June 2008 Archives

Fantasy baseball: Player rankings

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Here are the top thirty fantasy baseball players overall based on stats and overall performance this season only. Promise, potential, soothsaying and reputation do not play a factor into them because they didn't earn you points yesterday and they won't earn you points today.

Here goes:

Three Up

Kevin Slowey- Minnesota Twins
Vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Win: CG, 3 H, 0 R, 8 K

As detailed here, these Twins shouldn’t be this good. Even without Torri Hunter, Johan Santana, and Francisco Liriano, the Twins keep finding ways to win.

John Lackey- Anaheim Angels
Vs. LA Dodgers
Win: 8.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 9 K

Three hits allowed!? Jered Weaver is not impressed.

Edwin Encarnacion- Cincinnati Reds
Vs. Cleveland Indians
2-for-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB

Good things happen when you don’t bunt.

One down

Carlos Guillen- Detroit Tigers
Vs. Colorado Rockies
0-for-4, 2 K

Games like this one are the reason Jim Leyland still smokes.

Because the Cubs and Sox are about to get underway- and because it's Friday, and no would could possibly try hard at work on Friday- here are a few quick fantasy baseball links.

- Albert Pujols is a monster. He went 4-for-4 in his return from the DL last night.

- As we mentioned earlier, this Matt Garza kid is a keeper. Good thing he's out of the AL Central.

- Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley might be this year's top fantasy duo.

- Dan Uggla's dad is going to be pretty happy next month.

The best

Hitters

Evan Longoria- Tampa Bay Rayz
Vs. Florida Marlins
3-for-5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R

Of all the Longoria’s not married to Tony Parker, Evan might just be my favorite.

Justin Morneau- Minnesota Twins
Vs. San Diego Giants
3-for-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB

Why does every great Minnesota athlete end up in Boston? First David Ortiz, then Randy Moss and KG. Morneau and OJ Mayo will fit right in three years from now.

Aubrey Huff- Baltimore Orioles
Vs. Chicago Cubs
4-for-5, 3 R, 2 RBI

As for as Cub killers go, Huff ranks somewhere between Mike Caruso and Jeff Blauser. And yes, I know, Blauser was a Cub. He was just that bad.

Pitchers

Matt Garza- Tampa Bay Rayz
Vs. Florida Marlins
Win: CG, 1 H, 1 R, 10 K

I think those Rayz did pretty well for themselves in their big offseason trade: Garza allowed the same number of hits in this game as Delmon Young has homers this season. Plus, you don’t have to worry about Garza maliciously throwing his bat at an umpire. That’s a plus too, I suppose.

Rich Harden- Oakland A’s
Vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Win: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 11 K

I have a friend from school that is from Philadelphia and though we’ve never argued about whose hometown is superior, if we did, all I would need to say is this: Chicago has Lollapalooza, Phili has Wing Bowl. Case closed.


Jesse Litsch- Toronto Blue Jays
Vs. Cincinnati Reds
Win: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 6 K

I’d add something funny here, but I don’t know who the hell Jesse Litsch is. Though some 29-year old third baseman named Joe Inglett leads the Blue Jays in OPS, so I guess that’s kind of funny.

Tuesday’s bums

Jay Bruce- Cincinnati Reds
Vs. Toronto Blue Jays
0-for-3, 2 K

I assure you I know who Jay Bruce is, and if this Jesse Litsch character can make Jay Bruce look this bad, maybe he’s someone we should keep an eye on.

Edison Volquez- Cincinnati Reds
Vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Loss: 4.1, 5 ER, 0 K, 3 BB

Yeah, it was a rough day at the ole’ ballpark for the Reds last night. Also: Dusty Baker is their manager. Coincidence?

As I mentioned earlier in today's best and worst post, Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Ryan Howard is doing things nobody in the game of baseball has ever seen.

And that, my friends, is a very, very bad thing.

Welcome to the Fantasy Factor where Matt and Ricky literally cannot stop thinking about two little words that will change Chicago forever:

DERRICK ROSE

And now on to the best and worst of fantasy baseball from Wednesday night's action:

Eric Stults - Los Angeles Dodgers (SP)
9 IP, 4 H, 3 K
vs. White Sox

Yikes. From now on, I almost have to suggest starting any pitcher that has a heartbeat against this White Sox offense the day after they win a game. I've never seen a team that can go so cold so quickly and Stults caught these guys at the right time. Stults kept feeding White Sox pitches they could make contact with and they obliged by popping up nearly every time.

Mark Buehrle - White Sox (SP)

After watching Buehrle pitch an absolute gem last night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, I figued I'd take a look at his stats on ESPN.com and try to see how he's improved upon them with four solid outings in the month of June.

But the number that caught my eye was Buehrle is owned in only 31.2 percent of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues.

At first, outrage ensued, but shortly after I understood exactly why.

The Good

Hitters

Alex Rios- Toronto Blue Jays
Vs. Cincinnati Reds
4-for-6, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R

The real reason the big Tim Lincecum-Alex Rios trade never went through this offseason? Height. Lincecum is 5-8, Rios is 6-5. In a related story, if John Paxson settles his little predicament by going with the taller guy, I’m giving up.

Kenji Johjima- Seattle Mariners (C)
Vs. New York Mets
3-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R

The managers in this game were Jerry Manuel and Jim Riggleman. No joke required.

Lance Berkman- Houston Astrots (1B)
Vs. Texas Rangers
2-for-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB

From wikipedia:

Berkman is a ballroom dancing enthusiast and was an alternate to Clyde Drexler in the 2007 season of Dancing With the Stars.

Bill Parcells disapproves.

Playing against the Mets, Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez was making his first plate appearance ever against Johan Santana, one of the most feared pitchers in baseball. Bases juiced, Hernandez takes the first pitch and drives it opposite field over the right field fence for the first grand slam hit by a pitcher since 2006.

Question of the day


If you had to do it all over again, who would you have selected first overall in your fantasy baseball draft?


Would it be Lance Berkman?

Despite looking like the guy on the labels of Brawny paper towels, Berkman is dominating in every offensive statistical category and may be a candidate for the NL MVP award at season's end.

Troy Tulowitzki- Colorado Rockies (SS)

Was it divine intervention? We know the Rockies are into that sort of thing. How else can fantasy owners- and to a much lesser extent (obviously), the Colorado Rockies- explain a miraculously quick from one of baseball’s best young shortstops? Tulowitzki’s strained quad was supposed to sideline him until the All-Star break, but he returned Friday to take his rightful spot in the meaty part of Colorado’s order. He was struggling before the injury, but there is no reason to believe he won’t return to form. Tulo hit a double on Saturday and Sunday, which is a good sign for his power numbers. After hitting 24 homers and OPS’ing .838 as a rookie last season, Tulowitzki’s average is just .162 and he has hit only one home run. Still, he’s one of the top shortstops in the National League, and should provide a big boost to any fantasy team.

Monday was the day of the pitcher and viewers were treated to some dominating performances in some big time game situations.

Ben Sheets - Milwaukee Brewers (SP)
@ Atlanta
9 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 7 K

Sheets has spent more time on the disabled list than on the field in recent years, making it extremely difficult to count on him for an entire fantasy season. But when healthy, Sheets is as good as anyone and can carry a team like the Brewers, not to mention your squad.

CC Sabathia has been a little better lately, but fantasy owners might be worried by Brandon Webb’s admission that his contract situation affected his performance on the field. Sabathia’s contract runs out after this season and teams are already lining up to get him. If he’s traded to a club with a high-powered offense- like, you know, the Cubs- Sabathia could be ready to go on a fantasy tear in the second half. Still, I’m not buying this business that the Indians are out of the AL Central, or that they won’t meet Sabathia’s contract demands.

- If you are in a keeper league, no doubt you’ve been keeping an eye on Rayz hurler David Price. The former number one overall pick just got promoted to Double A, he should start off next season in the rotation.

- Zoner Sports looks at Christian Guzman, baseball’s most unlikely league leader.

- Good news for Albert Pujols owners: your best player is coming back. He could come off the DL on Thursday.

- I know Cowley mentioned this in the paper a few days ago as well, but seriously guys, K-Fuk over Jermaine Dye on the All-City team is just wrong. Allegiances be damned. Dye has been on fire the last few weeks, and SI advises that he should be a must start until further notice.

Not that this has anything to do with fantasy baseball but…

- Blog war! Deadspin’s Will Leitch doesn’t agree with The Big Lead’s assertion in an LA Times article that sports blogs should appeal to a wider audience.

Fantasy baseball: Pickups of the week

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After a great weekend of baseball, it's time to get your mind back into fantasy mode and start sifting through the waiver wire for that extra arm or bat for your lineup.

We're here to help, so here are the guys you might want to take a look at when you're spending your time at work on fantasy baseball instead of work itself.


Joel Piniero - St. Louis Cardinals (SP)
3.86 ERA, 2-3, 34 K, 1.24 WHIP

He didn't pick up the victory against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, but Piniero certainly did enough to give the Cards' a chance. Somehow Tony LaRussa is making all the right moves and Piniero is just the latest example. On a team that has consistently defied the odds at every turn, Piniero could be an extremely solid fifth starter for your rotation and should be available in the majority of your leagues.

Sidney Ponson - New York Yankees (SP)
3.88 ERA, 4-1, 25 K, 1.56 WHIP

Chances are you probably can't even pick Ponson up in your league because he's still in the minors after signing a contract with the Yankees last week. Manager Joe Girardi sounds like he will be making a call to the big right-hander due to the injuries that have seemed to pop up almost daily amongst his pitching staff.

Ponson was pitching well for the Texas Rangers, but was booted after a string of questionable behavior. Everyone knows he's got the stuff to be a quality starter for any team, now it's just a matter of keeping it together. As soon as you hear the news that Ponson is getting the call up to the big-show, snag him immediately. With that powerful Yankees offense providing run support, Ponson could possibly give you a very nice second half of service.

Aubrey Huff - Baltimore Orioles (DH/1B)
.271 AVG, 14 HR, 42 RBI, .342 OBP, .500 SLG

It's not too often that I reccomend picking up players from the Orioles outside of second baseman Brian Roberts. But in the case of Aubrey Huff I'll make an exception. If you're in a very deep league, Huff may already be putting up respectable power numbers for one of your foes. But if he's not, I'd take a long hard look at a guy that has been consistently hitting for power and driving in runs this season.

In April he had five homeruns, May he had four and so far in June he's hit five more. Huff is just going about his business while remaining a very valuable fantasy threat and could do wonders if you're in need of a replacement DH or first baseman.

Eric Hinske - Tampa Bay Rays (RF)
.258 AVG, 12 HR, 39 RBI, .339 OBP, .510 SLG

The 2002 Rookie of the Year has seemingly found a home in Tamp Bay and you fantasy baseball players out there should take notice. Up until his oh-fer performance yesterday against the Houston Astros, Hinske was on a seven game hitting streak in which he drove in eight runs and swiped a pair of bases.

It's imperative to have good outfielders in fantasy baseball and if you got stuck on the short end of the stick in this particular area it's time you start making some moves here. Take a flyer on Hinske and stop waiting for guys like Minnesota Twins outfielder Delmon Young to produce. Talent doesn't do anything for you in fantasy baseball, production does. Time to take notice.

Hong-Chih Kuo - Los Angeles Dodgers (RP)
1.76 ERA, 3-1, 55 K, 1.00 WHIP, 46 IP

It's tough to find good bullpen help these days. Everyone knows who the good ones are and once they're gone it basically becomes a crap shoot.

But now the guy you need to know about is Hong-Chih Kuo.

In the past 28 innings Kuo has pitched, he's given up a miniscule three earned runs while posting a eye-popping 0.96 ERA. If it wasn't for a terrible outing against the Reds back in late April (3.2 IP, 5 ER), Kuo would have a grand total of four earned runs and an ERA of 0.84 for the season.

Better yet, he's owned in 16-percent of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues and I can almost guarantee he'd be available in yours.

Sunday’s best, only featuring first basemen…

Hitters

Mark Teixeira- Atlanta Braves (1B)
Vs. Seattle Mariners
3-for-4, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R

Teixeira and Chipper Jones may be the NL’s best 3-4 hitting duo. Three home runs will help Tex keep pace with Mr. .400.

Prince Fielder- Milwaukee Brewers (1B)
Vs. Baltimore Orioles
3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R

Isn’t being a vegetarian supposed to make you not fat?

Kevin Youkilis- Boston Red Sox (1B)
Vs. St. Louis Cardinals
2-for-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB

He does more than just draw walks, ladies.

Pitchers

Andy Pettitte- New York Yankees
Vs. Cincinnati Reds
Win: 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 K

Please read this. Dusty Baker is so incompetent it’s hilarious.

Ryan Dempster- Chicago Cubs
Vs. Chicago White Sox
Win: 8 IP, 1 ER, 4 K

So maybe Dumpster won’t rear his ugly head before this season is over?

Tim Hudson- Atlanta Braves
Vs. Seattle Mariners
Win: 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 K

It’s kind of interesting that Hudson is the only pitcher of the A’s Big Three to leave Oakland and find success. Billy Beane knows what he’s doing out there.

The worst of Sunday

Chris Young- Arizona Diamondbacks (CF)
Vs. Minnesota Twins
0-for-4, 2 K

Javier Vazquez- Chicago White Sox
Vs. Chicago Cubs
Loss: 6 IP, 4 ER, 4 K, 5 BB

Hey these two guys were traded for each other! Cool.

Truthfully, I should be writing this with all of baseball in mind so that you can set your fantasy rosters as best as possible.

That being said, this is no ordinary weekend.

The Cubs and Sox series, the Crosstown Showdown, the matchup that settles all arguments and evokes more trash talking than any set of days in the year is upon us and I for one cannot wait.

So instead of looking at all of baseball, we're going to focus on the fantasy matchups that will be going on in this weekend's Cubs vs. Sox series.

I'm sure you may have one or two of them on your squad.

Because there is really nothing going on today in real baseball today, right?

Thursday's best...

Hitters

Mark Teahen- Kansas City Royals (1B, LF, 3B)
Vs. St. Louis Cardinals
3-for-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R

I doubt the Cardinals-Royals series gets as intense as Cubs-Sox. And I think we all know who the real winner is: the team Nelly roots for.

Wait, Nelly hasn’t been cool for like six years? You can’t expect me to know this stuff. Look at how pale I am.

Also: Olsen enjoys Wu-Tang Clan. Worth noting.

Carl Crawford- Tampa Bay Rayz (LF)
Vs. Chicago Cubs
3-for-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R

Yeah, sure, the Rayz just pounded the Cubs for a three game sweep. But who is more lovable?

Jermaine Dye- Chicago White Sox (RF)
Vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
3-for-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R

After each Dye homer, Nick Swisher did the worm.

By the way, has anyone ever seen Swish and Scotty 2 Hottie in the same place? Didn’t think so…

Pitchers

Joba Chamberlain- New York Yankees
Vs. San Diego Padres
Win: 5.2 IP, 1 ER, 9 K

The best athlete ever from Tatooine? Possibly. Somehow, Jeter still has a higher metaclorian count.

Zack Greinke- Kansas City Royals
Vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Win: 7 IP, 1 ER, 7 K

If the Royals really wanted to up the ante for this in-state series, why not wager Joe Posnanski? If KC loses, then Joe P goes to the Post-Dispatch. This makes sense to me.

Dave Bush- Milwaukee Brewers
Vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Win: 8 IP, 1 ER, 2 K

Not bad Bush, but try doing it against someone better than the Blue Jays, a team whose best hitter is Rod Barajas. Good thing that team couldn’t use Adam Dunn or anything.

...Thursday's worst

Hitter

Jason Giambi
Vs. San Diego Padres
0-for-3, 3 K

Giambi is just a clown. I didn't even have a joke here.

Pitcher

AJ Burnett- Toronto Blue Jays
Vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Loss: 5 IP, 8 ER, 5 K, 4 BB

Question to Jim Hendry: do you really want this guy? Seriously?

In Chase Utley and Carlos Quentin, we’ve seen guys with tremendous starts begin to cool off. That doesn’t mean you should ship those guys away though. Baseball is an impossibly long season, no player goes through 162 games without encountering a minor slump. That’s where Utley and Quentin sit right now.

But there are a lot of big name players who have gotten off to slow starts that you may be able to acquire for a reasonable price in a trade.

The Good Stuff


Position Players

J.D. Drew - Boston Red Sox (OF)
4-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R

It's looks like everyone in Bean Town is going to owe this man a serious apology. And don't think we forgot about you fantasy baseball owners either. Stop thinking that Drew is going to tank like he has been known to do, he looks comfortable now and is going to be counted upon heavily with David Ortiz out of the lineup.

- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick takes a look at some of baseball’s best utility men. Guys that can play multiple positions are extremely valuable in fantasy. It’s the reason I’ve kept Nick Swisher on my bench all season. Still, I’m not sure Darin Erstad helps anyone, unless you get points in your fantasy league for grinding. If so, that is awesome, and please invite me to play next year.

- If you’re in a fantasy league with a bunch of guys that stopped paying attention to baseball five years ago, now would be a great time to deal Richie Sexton to one of them.

- Daisuke Matsuzaka may be the hyped foreign baseball player of all-time, and so far, he’s lived up to the billing. Dice-K was pretty good last season in helping the Red Sox win their second World Series in four seasons. This year, however, he was unhittable before going down on May 27 with a rotator cuff sprain in his pitching arm. Now he's back, and he is expected to pitch on Saturday.

Dice-K has a lot of value in fantasy for two reasons: a) he strikes guys out, b) he pitches for a good team, so he accumulates a lot of wins. While his walk numbers were up before getting hurt, Dice-K still has an unblemished record (8-0) and boasts a 2.5 ERA .

With a slew of injuries around the majors the last two weeks, it’s great to be able to pull Matsuzaka off the DL.

- Lost in all the Clayton Kershaw mania has been the performance of Chad Billingsley, another young Dodgers starter with a cool name. While no one tops Clayton Kershaw in the name department (besides for maybe Lance Broadway), Billingsley has actually been more reliable so far. He picked up a win last night, only allowing one earned run and striking out nine. Since the NL West is so mediocre, Billingsley should be able to continue pitching well. If you need pitching help, try to swing a trade for him.

- Just like the White Sox' Carlos Quentin, Chase Utley now finds himself in a bit of a slump. While some fantasy owners may consider peddling off Quentin if the price is right, hang onto Utley at all costs. He’s already matched his home run total from last year, 22, in 59 fewer games.

Detroit Tigers at San Francisco Giants

Not to beat a dead horse, but in case you haven't noticed, Giants pitcher Barry Zito has gone from perennial Cy Young award winner to epic bust since signing a ridiculous $126 million contract in 2006.

The point of this is not to suggest a start for Zito, rather, it's to point out that the Tigers have to be licking their chops as they prepare to face him tonight in San Fran. This Tigers offense has finally come around is starting to perform like the sluggers fantasy owners expected them to be and Zito will only help out your cause.

The good

Hitters

Ryan Braun- Milwaukee Brewers
Vs. Toronto Blue Jays
3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R

Maybe Braun can convince his manger to give blogs a chance. Come on man, we’re not so bad!

Joe Crede- Chicago White Sox (3B)
Vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
2-for-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

Really, I could have chosen just about anyone from the Sox for this spot. I guess that’s what happens when you play the Pirates.

Ryan Sweeney- Oakland A’s (CF)
Vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
3-for-4, 4 R, 1 SB, 2 BB

Last night was so great that even ex-Sox got in on the fun! I heard Ron Karkovice even hit two grand slams in his 60-and over softball league. If Officer Karko raced Paul Konerko right now (strained oblique and all) but Konerko had to run backwards and ten yards farther, would anyone pick Kark? I’ve still never seen a slower athlete.

Pitchers

Andy Pettitte- New York Yankees
Vs. San Diego Padres
Win: 7 IP, 0 ER, 9 K, 1 BB

Alex Rodriguez said he would love for his daughters to marry someone like Pettitte. I’d be more concerned about keeping them away from Jeter.

Justin Duchscherer- Oakland A’s
Vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Win: 8 IP, 1 ER, 6 K, 0 BB

I’ll know I’m finally mature when I can type Duchscherer without laughing.

John Lackey
Vs. New York Mets
Win: 7.2 IP, 1 ER, 7 K, 1 BB

Um, the Mets new manager is Jerry Manuel. That’s got to be the baseball managerial equivalent of pulling Grossman in favor of Orton, right?

...and the guys that didn't get it done.

Hitter

Ryan Howard- Philadelphia Phillies (1B)
Vs. Boston Red Sox
0-for-4, 4 K

I believe the answer to yesterday’s Billy Beane question is “yes”.

Pitcher

Brandon Webb
Vs. Oakland A's
Loss: 3.1 IP, 7 ER, 3 K, 5 BB

Sometimes it’s good that no one reads this thing expect Barnes, Dubs, and Tone. See people, this is why I do the morning post. But hey, he nailed it on Johan

Tuesday's Fantasy Baseball Links

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Injury Watch

Wang gone

The New York Times is reporting that Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang will miss at least 10 weeks with a sprained Lisfranc ligament and a torn tendon in his right foot. If you've got time and a DL spot hang on to him. Otherwise, give him the boot.

And in other news...

Hollerin' Hank

The New York Daily News says Hank Steinbrenner wants you to know that the National League is too rough and is stuck in the Dark Ages or something to that effect. Being ridiculously insane must be in the Steinbrenner genes.


Penny may come back Friday

According to the L.A. Times, Brad Penny looks to be on schedule to make his start Friday but it's not a guarantee. He needs to be healthy for those of you who used a high pick on him in your draft. Hopefully he actually gets some run support, but I sincerely doubt it.

Sheff back on duty

Get ready D-Town, the Detroit Free Press is reporting the one and only Gary Sheffield is going to be ready for active duty very soon. Former teammates and coaches are already anticipating how he's going to go behind their backs and lie about them this time.

Dice-K makes first rehab start

The fine folks over at MLB.com were there for Daisuke Matsuzaka's first ever rehab stint and here's what they had to report: he looked good and bought the team steak and shrimp for dinner.


Pickup of the day

Marcus Thames - Detroit Tigers (LF)
.257 AVG, 12 HR, 28 RBI, .328 OBP, .611 SLG

The stat line above may appear average, but you have to look at it for what it is.

Thames has hit five of his twelve home runs in the past four games alone and is on an absolute tear. Manager Jim Leyland has committed to giving him the starting job in left and the Tigers are reaping the benefits in a very big way.

He's probably available in your league right now, unless some overzealous opponent picked him up sooner. But it's worth a look if you're stuck without an outfielder while the Pirates' Xavier Nady is hurt and could end up on the DL.

Two years ago he hit 26 homeruns and drove in 60 RBI. The talent is there, all Thames needed was the chance to prove it again.

Four of the best pitchers in baseball will be on the mound tonight and for many of you this translates into one of the most important days of the week.

It can either grant you an early cushion or a deep hole to dig out of.

Here's a look at how we think they might fare tonight in their starts:

Johan Santana (NYM) at LA Angels

It'll be interesting to see how the Mets react after Willie Randolph's unceremonious firing last night. Santana needs to come up big here to get this team back on track against a tough Angels squad. At times he's been brilliant, but I have to say I am not impressed with Santana during his stay with New York so far. Being a White Sox fan, I know what this man is capable of and I haven't seen the same pitcher that was so dominant playing in the AL Central.

Santana is 1-2 with a 5.16 ERA lifetime in Anaheim and I expect that trend will continue tonight. Too much going on right now for this team to pull it together in time to pick up a win against the Angels.

Brandon Webb (ARI) vs. Oakland Athletics

There isn't another pitcher out there that I'd want leading my fantasy baseball rotation than Brandon Webb. He leads the league in wins (11), has a minuscule WHIP of 1.00 and is an absolute workhorse. He's thrown two complete games and has lasted at least six innings 12 of his 14 starts this season.

He may fly under the radar in terms of national recognition by the media, but in the fantasy world this guy has got his own shoe, clothing and hair care line. Seriously, I'd feel confident starting this guy against any team you could dream up and he should never, EVER be out of your starting lineup. Especially against a weak A's lineup that he should absolutely manhandle.

Felix Hernandez (SEA) vs. Florida Marlins

The beauty of fantasy baseball is that the actual team a player is on doesn't have to be good in order for you to make a killing on his production. We'll use 'Prince' Felix Hernandez here (and yes, I know it's supposed to be King Felix but on the Mariners he'll never be king of anything) as an example of this.

Owners need to understand that he's not going to win as many games as he should due to the fact his team is garbage. But Hernandez compensates for this by producing above average numbers in other areas. He's in the top 15 in strikeouts (82) and has a very respectable 2.81 ERA in 14 starts this season.

I'll almost guarantee Felix loses this game against the Marlins tonight, but with a stat line that includes seven strikeouts and a couple earned runs, that's a quality start you can't afford to miss out on.

Tim Hudson (ATL) at Texas Rangers

Hudson is one of those guys that you really just don't get excited about. He kind of defines that 'ho-hum' mentality where you know he's a decent pitcher, but he doesn't do anything that makes him stand out. On a Braves team that seems to place a different pitcher on the disabled list on a daily basis, Hudson has remained relatively consistent with a 7-4 record, 2.76 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.

This Rangers offense scares the living daylights out of me right now and I'm uncomfortable starting any 'ho-hum' pitcher against them even though as a team the Rangers are 'ho-hum' themselves (35-36).

You could start him, and you probably have to, but there's a chance he could be heading for the showers a little earlier than usual with a bloated ERA and not much else to show for it. Owner beware.

The best fantasy baseball performances from Monday that you missed while you were waiting for your Bonnaro stage to be finished...

Hitters

Carlos Beltran- New York Mets (CF)
Vs. Los Angeles Angels
2-for-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 SB

According to Beltran, manager Willie Randolph is under so much scrutiny that he has become a distraction to the team. Also a distraction to the team: Moises Alou’s pregame urination habits.

Jimmy Rollins- Philadelphia Philles (SS)
Vs. Boston Red Sox
3-for-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

Do you think Dizzy Dean also had a sweet rap song on his official website after he won the NL MVP in 1934? Let’s hope so.

Ryan Howard- Philadelphia Phillies (1B)
Vs. Boston Red Sox
3-for-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R

Is Ryan Howard the man to finally make Billy Beane’s head explode? He holds the record for most strikeouts in a season (199!) and most walks in a nine-inning game (5).

Pitchers

Cole Hamels- Philadelphia Phillies
Vs. Boston Red Sox
Win: 7 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, 2 BB

Via the always reliable Cole Hamels Facts:

Cole has never had a date because everyone strikesout with him.

Rich Garces is convinced that's his problem too.

Andrew Miller- Florida Marlins
Vs. Seattle Mariners
Win: 7 IP, 1 ER, 2 K, 2 BB

Not only does he have filthy curveball, but Andrew Miller also was the governor of my favorite state, North Dakota, from 1909-1914. Somewhere, Cole Hamels is jealous.

Jair Jurrjens- Atlanta Braves
Vs. Colorado Rockies
Win: 7.2 IP, 0 ER, 7 K, 2 BB

Is it possible Jurrjens Surgeons is the worst named fan club of all-time? Probably, but only because I never went through with my grand idea to start The Shingo Squad in high school. Seriously, that frisbee pitch was nasty.

Now for the worst performances of Monday, sponsored by rhetorical questions...

Hitter

Manny Ramirez- Boston Red Sox (RF)
Vs. Philadelphia Phillies
0-for-4, K

Quickly: how bad must David Ortiz be defensively at first base for Manny not to be the DH on that team?

Pitcher

Carlos Silva- Seattle Mariners
Vs. Florida Marlins
Loss: 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 K, 1 BB

At 3-8, can Silva challenge Mike Maroth's level of futility?

Yadier Molina - St. Louis Cardinals C

Molina was carried away on a stretcher after being plowed into by Philadelphia Phillies baserunner Eric Bruntlett on Sunday. He may be the only Molina out of the 57 others in the league that actually has any fantasy value. Molina probably just had his clock cleaned and could be back soon.

Chien-Ming Wang - New York Yankees P

The most consistent member of the Yankees rotation was knocked out of Sunday's game against the Houston Astros with an unidentified foot injury. However, according to this New York Times article:

He did not speak to reporters, but he told others that he felt a pop in his foot while rounding third base, a strong sign of ligament damage that could sideline him for months, if not the rest of the season.

We'll monitor this situation closely but you should start to make room on the DL for Wang because this isn't looking good. But if you don't have the option to put him on the DL, wait and see how long he'll be out before cutting him.


Xavier Nady - Pittsburgh Pirates OF

A bum shoulder has Nady heading home to Pittsburgh to get an MRI in hopes of determining what kind of damage was done when he crashed into the outfield wall Saturday chasing a foul ball. Losing Nady could have a very large impact on anyone's fantasy team seeing as how he's currently in the midst of his best season as a pro. It doesn't sound like it's going to be a long term injury but when it comes to shoulder injuries one can never be too careful.

Just ask Mark Prior (cheap shot, I know, but come on you would have too).

Paul Konerko - Chicago White Sox 1B

We kind of touched on this earlier, but Paul Konerko was a late scratch from Sunday's game against the Colorado Rockies after straining an oblique muscle during batting practice. If this was the Paul Konerko from two years ago I would be taking this hit a little harder, but he's been playing so badly it's kind of a nice break. Fantasy owners have struggled through this guy's substandard play the past two years and despite occasional glimpses of the player he once was, Paulie 'Walnuts' just isn't the same.

Hate to say it, but it might be time to part ways with Mr. Konerko.


New York blues

Typically it's not necessary to talk about the managers of teams because it doesn't really matter to fantasy baseball. But in the case of New York Mets manager Willie Randolph, we're going to make an exception because what's going on in the Big Apple is affecting fantasy baseball.

With updates coming hourly about Randolph's job status, and the daily questions his players have to endure about the topic, this Mets team is drowning in controversy despite having a roster most general managers would drool over. If the players can't focus on the game and actually have a little fun while playing it, their production is going to dip and thus hurt your fantasy team. Guys like Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes are all performing below expectations and it can partly be attributed to this Randolph situation.

Fire him or keep him. Just make a decision so these guys can start producing the way they're capable of.

Burnett to the Cubs?

After throwing a gem against the Cubs this weekend, A.J. Burnett decided it was time to let the media know he wouldn't be upset at the idea of leaving Toronto:

"As of right now, I'm a Blue Jay, and I'm going to pitch to the best of my ability as long as I'm part of this club,'' Burnett said. ''But if something were to happen and I'd have the opportunity to go to a place (like Chicago) where baseball is breakfast, lunch and dinner, that would be awesome.

"Right now, my focus is with this club, but if something like that were to happen, I'd accept it with open arms.''

So, my fantasy friends, the question is would Burnett would be better or worse in Chicago?

David DeJesus – Kansas City Royals
vs Arizona Diamondbacks
3-5, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R


DeJesus added to the frustrations of those who drafted Diamondbacks pitcher Micah Owings. The first grand slam of DeJesus' career came in this game, and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle against a pitcher many expected to break out in a big way this season.

The Royals slugger has been stepping up his fantasy production in June (3 HR, 11 RBI, 10 R, .345 AVG) and may not be a bad play if you're in need of an outfielder.

Yup, he's good

A-Rod’s stats over the weekend:
4-7, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 6 R, 3 BB

Say what you want, but since coming off the disabled list, A-Rod has been on a tear. He's the greatest player in baseball and without question the greatest player for fantasy baseball purposes. You don't need our advice when determining whether or not A-Rod should be in your lineup because regardless of the competition and regardless of the situation, he is always a must start.

White Sox Sluggers

Time to drop Paul Konerko and Jim Thome, or at least realistically look at using someone else until they prove that what they’re in is only a slump, and not the end of their careers. Konerko is rumored to be heading to the disabled list with a strained oblique that he suffered during batting practice Sunday, and Thome is barely hitting over .200 on the season. They'll both probably rebound a little bit at some point during the season, but these 'slumps' have lasted since the beginning of last year. If you can get something for either, I applaud you and encourage you to do so. But if there's a decent replacement on the waiver wire, it's time to go fishing for your new replacement.

Fine, let’s talk about Carlos Quentin

I'll let Sun-Times writer Toni Ginnetti sum up exactly how bad it's gotten for the young star on the Sox:

Left fielder Carlos Quentin has a good chance to represent the White Sox in the All-Star Game, thanks to his 16 home runs (third in the American League) and 54 RBI (second in the AL).

But he has been without a homer in his last 33 at-bats and has only one hit in his last 14 at-bats (.071). That was part of the reason manager Ozzie Guillen gave Quentin the day off Sunday. Quentin had played in all but two games this season.

There was no way Quentin was going to keep up with the torrid pace he set at the beginning of the season. While it does seem slumps on the South Side tend to last longer than anywhere else, I'm not sure it's a very good idea to give up on a kid who has the potential to be the new star of this team. Granted, you could probably get great value for him in a trade and if the right deal comes along I'd be tempted to pull the trigger myself. But there's alot of baseball left and Carlos Quentin will bounce back eventually. It's just a question of when.

Best of Sunday

C.C. Sabathia - Cleveland Indians
vs. San Diego Padres
8 IP, 3 ER, 10 K, 1 BB

The big boy is starting to regain that Cy Young form he displayed last year, and the very form that's going to be delivering big time money in the offseason when he becomes a free agent. Sabathia is about as dominant as any pitcher in baseball and is a must start every time it's his turn to take the bump.

Josh Beckett - Boston Red Sox
vs. Cincinnati Reds
7 IP, 0 ER, 6 K, 2 BB

Last week I tell you to start him and he lays an egg. We ignore him and he throws a gem. Thus is the beauty of fantasy baseball.

Joe Saunders - L.A. Angels
vs. Atlanta Braves
7.1 IP, 0 ER, 3 K, 0 BB

Saunders picked up his tenth win of the season and is quickly becoming the ace of an Angels pitching staff that is already considered one of baseball's best. Keep plugging this guy into your starting lineup and if you don't have him, wouldn't be a bad idea to swing a deal to get him. He's for real.

Worst of Sunday

Roy Oswalt - Houston Astros
vs. the New York Yankees
5.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 R, 8 H, 4 BB

The little guy that throws gas just doesn't seem to have it so far this year. We've all seen what he's capable over the years but games like this one are hard to ignore. Putting up season highs in walks and pitches (118), Oswalt isn't getting done for the Astros or fantasy players. At this point he's only a situational starter depending on what team he's facing and not a must start like he had always been before.

Friday's Fantasy Baseball Links

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Down and out

Cleveland Indians catcher Victor Martinez heads to the DL and truthfully, it couldn't have come any sooner. He's really slumped since breaking out in a big way last year, but then again, you could basically say that for the entire Indians team. I don't know if anyone has disappointed this much since


Alou-ha!

So, as much as I'd like to make a third grade pee joke out of this I have chosen to refrain from doing so. Mets outfielder Moises Alou is on his way back to the DL and has only appeared in a grand total of 15 games this season. Alou is one of those guys that when in the lineup, always seemed to find a way to get on base. He's about as pure of a hitter as you'll find with the only caveat being that he can't hit when he's popping pain pills at home rehabbing his calf injury. Truthfully, I wouldn't waste a roster spot on Alou and I'd suggest looking at his replacement Fernando Tatis (never thought I'd be writing that).


Johnny G

As far as guys that I would definitely have in the lineup this evening, Angel pitcher Jon Garland would be near or at the top of my list. He's facing a Braves team that is reeling from a rash of injuries, including the loss of John Smoltz and an achy Chipper Jones. Watching him pitch for the Sox for so long, Garland is going to have a very nice chance of going seven innings deep and should pick up the win.

Yankee savior?

Joba Chamberlain takes the bump for the Yankees tonight against the Houston Astros and all of New York is hoping he can make it past the fourth inning. Granted, Chamberlain has been on a very strict pitch count as mandated by the trainer and manager Joe Girardi. But for this team to have any chance of catching up to the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the AL East, Chamberlain is going to have to step his game up.

But the fantasy implications could be huge if Chamberlain turns this thing around. A guy bringing 100 mph heat translates into a high strikeout number and could swing any fantasy matchup on any given day. Regardless of how average he's looked in his first couple starts, keep throwing Jaba out there because he's got the stuff of an ace.


Last Chance

When the Cubs take on the Blue Jays tonight, Sean Gallagher will be under Looney Lou's microscope and should be under yours as well. At times he's looked like a valid fifth starter, but then there are times when you're looking to the minors for his replacement. With the Jays offense not hitting full stride tonight, and with the knowledge that this team seems to be finding new ways to win every game, I like Gallagher in this start.

Thursday's studs...

Hitters

Darin Erstad- Houston Astros (CF)
Vs. Milwaukee Brewers
3-for-5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R

In high school, Erstad was dominant in baseball, hockey, football, and track. I found that kind of amazing until I realized he’s from North Dakota. I'm sure all 13 people that live there are had pretty good high school athletic careers. What else can you really do in North Dakota? To find out, I went on the state’s official tourism site. Here’s the first thing I saw:

You ask: "What is there to do in North Dakota?" And we answer: "What ISN'T there to do?" The options are as diverse as the imagination.

I imagine that place sucks.

Kevin Youkilis- Boston Red Sox (1B)
Vs. Baltimore
2-for-2, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB

Did you know Youkilis had a small role in the 1994 romantic comedy Milk Money? Yeah, neither did I. But look, there he is! Even at a young age, the guy knew how to walk.

Adrian Gonzalez- San Diego Padres (1B)
Vs. LA Dodgers
2-for-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB

For a number one overall draft pick, Gonzalez was kind of a late bloomer. Before becoming a fantasy stud and one of the NL’s top power hitters, Gonzalez was traded twice. Hey, at least he’s better than all these guys.

Pitchers

Ben Sheets- Milwaukee Brewers
Vs. Houston Astros
Win: 7 IP, 3 ER, 9 K, 2 BB

I’m confused. Shouldn’t Ben Sheets have sustained a season ending injury about two weeks ago?

Johan Santana- New York Mets
Vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
ND: 7 IP, 0 ER, 10 K, 3 BB

I’ve got to be honest, I enjoy watching Santana strikeout Conor Jackson a lot more than Paul Konerko.

Jake Peavy- San Diego Padres
Vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Win: 6 IP, 4 K, 0 BB

Of all the awesome things Peavy has done as a pitcher in the majors, I’m not sure anything tops that time he celebrated a successful hunting trip at KAM’S.

...and duds

Hitter

Adam Dunn- Cincinnati Reds (LF)
Vs. St. Louis Cardinals
0-for-4, 3 K

Adam Dunn does three things: hit homers, walk, and strikeout. Yesterday, he forgot to do the two good ones. That being said, has anyone in the history of baseball ever been more productive while hitting under .230? Bill James must love this guy.

Pitcher

Livan Hernandez- Minnesota Twins
Vs. Cleveland Indians
Loss: 3 IP, 7 ER, 1 K

I gently refer to that type of pitching line as ‘Todd Ritchie-ian’.

Thursday Links: Sutcliffe strikes again

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This old, creepy Cub

In case you haven't seen it yet, Rick Sutcliffe was pretty enamored with ESPN hottie Erin Andrews last night at the Cubs game. He's just the gift that keeps on giving.

Here we go again

Part of me feels bad for Milton Bradley, but then again, part of me doesn't at all. He's always had the game to be a productive major leaguer and this year he's proven that. He picked up co-player of the week honors last week, hitting .478, five homeruns, nine RBI and scored nine times. In fact, he's leading the American League in batting average (.333), slugging percentage (.629) and OBP (.454).

Yet, he lets outside factors influence him and last night went nuts after hearing Kansas City Royals announcer Ryan Lefebvre using not so glowing terms about him as he was comparing Rangers stud Josh Hamilton to Bradley.

As unfortunate as it sounds, it was only a matter of time before Bradley lost it again. What would we have to do to get a reality show featuring him and Ron Artest on the same team?

National crisis

As if the Washington Nationals didn't have any other problems, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is now in danger of missing the remainder of the season with a bum left shoulder. The initial prognosis is that he'll be out a minimum four weeks, however, if things don't get better Zimmerman will have to undergo season ending shoulder surgery. You've basically got two options with him at this point. Face facts and realize that he probably isn't coming back and pick up a replacement. Or, you put him on the DL and hope for the best from a guy that hit 24 home runs and had 91 RBI a year ago. Tough call, but shoulder injuries are tough to battle back from midseason.

On track

The good news just keeps coming for the walking wounded of the Colorado Rockies club. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was down in Single-A for a rehab start and according to the Rocky Mountain News, he looked pretty sharp.

"I hit the ball hard and I got a double-play ball," said Tulowitzki, who sent five balls out of Recreation Park during a pregame batting-practice session that seemed to get better with every turn he took in the cage. "I'm happy with where I'm at."

Tulowitzki is a big part of what went right for the Rockies last year and they'd love to have him back for the second half of this season. In fantasy terms, playing in Colorado certainly helps with putting up fantasy friendly numbers so his return should be a nice sign of relief for those of you who waited this injury out.

Bringing fat back

Just before Bartolo Colon put his 'Fat and Former Cy Young Award winner with shoulder problems for cheap' ad on Craigslist, the Boston Red Sox took a chance and signed him.

And it's paid off HUGE! (pun intended thank you)

Against the Orioles last night he had seven strikeouts in six innings of work and had nice command with his two-seam fastball. When healthy, Colon can hang with anyone and could be a major find for fantasy players everywhere.

You calling me Uggla?

I knew Dan Uggla was good, but geez, this good?

On the clutchability factor we've formulated here at The Fantasy Factor, Uggla is weighing in somewhere at a 9 out of 10. I can't wait to watch him and Hanley Ramirez tear it up for the Marlins for years and years to come.

Which, in Marlins years, means just up until the point where they actually have to pay them some money.

Old man river

But Uggla may have a rough go of it tonight squaring off against king fisherman Jamie Moyer, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com

In eight career starts against the Marlins, the 45-year-old soft-throwing lefty has eight wins while compiling a 3.51 ERA in just over 51 1/3 innings. In his only previous start against the Marlins this season, Moyer allowed five runs in seven innings. But somehow, he found a way to come out with the victory on June 1.

Give it up

The guy who thinks he caught Ken Griffey Jr.'s 600th homerun ball is now suing the guy who has possession of the ball.

What is he possibly going to gain from filing this lawsuit if, like he said in this SI.com article, 'he hopes it winds up in the Cincinnati slugger's possession?'

Finding fantasy gold in the garbage

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These days it doesn't seem like anyone can stay healthy for an extended period of time. Big bats and big stars like Cubs OF Alfonso Soriano and Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols went down with serious injuries in the past few days alone and fantasy GM's everywhere are screaming in frustration.

Look, things like this happen all the time and actually brings more credibility to the authenticity of fantasy baseball. Real life general managers have to compensate for the loss of injured or under performing players in the same manner that you and I do. We scan the waiver wires in desperation trying to find that diamond in the rough or if your expectations are tempered, a gamer that can give you solid production until your superstar comes off the DL.

So in that regard, here are a couple of position players and pitchers that could help you out in a pinch and are probably available on the waiver wire. Happy hunting.


Position Players

Maicer Izturis - Los Angeles Angels
Pos: SS, 3B, 2B
Avg. 266, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 29 R, 8 SB
Owned in 52% of ESPN leagues

The beauty of a guy like Izturis is that he plays multiple infield positions, giving you a gap filler for the days your studs aren't playing. He's on a 11-game hitting streak, and even though he wasn't a starter at the beginning of the season, skipper Mike Scioscia always seems to find a way to get him into the lineup. Izturis numbers aren't exactly jaw-dropping, but just like Scioscia, you need a grinder to get you through an entire season and Izturis is that kind of guy.

Alexei Ramirez - Chicago White Sox
Pos: 2B
Avg. .293, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 4 R, 3 SB
Owned in 43.1% of ESPN leagues

You might think I'm a homer for putting one Cubs player and now a Sox player in this post, but I feel it's completely valid. Typically first place teams have players that are performing better than most, and therefore, deserve fantasy consideration by you.

The 'Cuban Missile', as manager Ozzie Guillen calls him, has been turning heads all over this city and it's time he did the same nationally. I'd like to offer some insight into the mechanics of his swing, but let's just call it what it is: Ramirez can just flat out hit. And surprisingly, he can hit for power despite the fact he probably doesn't break 100 pounds when he steps onto the scale. The Oz loves him, and so should you.

Micah Hoffpauir - Chicago Cubs
Pos: OF
Avg. .421, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 4 R, 1 SB

Monitor this situation closely as Hoffpauir seems to be the leading candidate to replace Soriano in the Cubs lineup despite the fact rookie Eric Patterson is getting the start in left today. He's only made 19 plate appearances, but he looked comfortable facing big league pitching and finds himself in a great situation. There's not going to be much pressure on him to produce due to the potent offense on the North Side which is a huge advantage. Plus, the Cubs have proven over time that playing without Soriano isn't really as bad as you would suspect. In fact, some were suggesting they play better without him. If you're desperate for an outfielder and willing to take a gamble, snag Hoffpauir before that die hard Cubs fan in your league has a chance.

Pitchers

Jonathan Sanchez - San Francisco Giants
Pos: SP
3.70 ERA, 5-0, 75 K, 1.38 WHIP, 75.1 IP
Owned in 65% of ESPN leagues

The big lefty has harnessed his early control problems and has bounced back to become a standout on a poor Giants pitching staff. Over his last five starts, Sanchez has given up a total of eight earned runs in 33 innings of work while sporting a minuscule 2.18 ERA. Giants manager Bruce Bochy likes what he has seen so far, according to the San Francisco Chronicle:

"I think more than anything it's his focus," manager Bruce Bochy said after Sanchez pitched seven shutout innings Saturday. "He's maintaining it no matter what happens with men on base. He's not losing it. He's not getting distracted. That was his biggest problem early. As a starter, you need that the whole game. Something has clicked the last few times out."

This guy would be a nice addition to anyone's staff, especially if it's your fifth or sixth pitcher.

Garrett Olson - Baltimore Orioles
Pos: SP
3.86 ERA, 5-2, 32 K, 1.42 WHIP, 44.1 IP
Owned in 6.7% of ESPN leagues

Olson had a tough outing last night, giving up five runs in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox. But throw out that start and one a month ago against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium and he's been pretty solid. Not to sound redundant, but the fantasy world echoes the real world and starting pitching is a tough commodity to come by. He's a rookie that's been pretty decent for a team playing well above expectations. If you're desperate, you could do worse.

Heath Bell - San Diego Padres
Pos: RP
2.15 ERA, 12 Holds, 28 K, 1.04 WHIP, 37.2 IP
Owned in 35.4% of ESPN leagues

With a rocky start to the year, Bell has settled down and become a solid member of the Padres bullpen. Two days ago Bell struggled against the Dodgers, but until that point he had his number called in four games last week and did not allow a hit. Relief pitchers are always a risky proposition and that's why they have become such a rare and valued commodity when a team can land one.

Wednesday’s studs…

Position players

Carlos Lee- Houston Astros (LF)
Vs. Milwaukee Brewers
3-for-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI

If Bud Selig really wanted to make people like him, he’d pass a rule that stated any player born in Panama had to come out to the Van Halen song. That would totally make everyone forget about the 2002 All-Star Game.

Carlos Beltran- New York Mets (CF)
Vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
2-for-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB

Not only did Beltran’s two-run homer in the bottom of the 13th inning lift the Mets to a much needed victory, it also secured his place as a Wednesday fantasy hero. Willie Randolph lives to get mercilessly criticized another day.

Kosuke Fukudome- Chicago Cubs (RF)
Vs. Atlanta Braves
1-for-2, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB

Ok, how funny is that the Cubs never told K-Fuk about that little 100-year World Series drought thing? Could this be the same reason Bernard Berrian signed with the Vikings? Maybe they never told him that Tarvaris Jackson is the quarterback.

Pitchers

Cole Hamels- Philadelphia Phillies (SP)
Vs. Florida Marlins
ND: 8 IP, 2 ER, 13 K, 1 BB

My all-time favorite athlete website is clearly this one, but Cole Hamels Facts may come in second. And everything on there is totally true. After all, they are facts. Duh.

The chief export of Cole Hamels is K's.

In a related story, the chief export of Shawn Kemp is children.

Ryan Dumpster- Chicago Cubs (SP)
Vs. Atlanta Braves
Win: 9 IP, 2 ER, 11 K, 0 BB

If Cubs fans would have known that Ryan Dempster would be their best pitcher midway through June, I don’t think they would have been very happy. But here he is, striking out everyone and leading the Cubbies in wins. Obviously, the only downside to his fantastic start is that I can no longer refer to him as ‘Dumpster’, which was probably the most perfect sports nickname of all-time.

Justin Verlander- Detroit Tigers (SP)
Vs. Chicago White Sox
Win: 9 IP, 1 ER, 3 K, 0 BB

Maybe Ozzie needs to start yelling at people again.

…as for the bums

Position Player

Mark Teixeira- Atlanta Braves (1B)
Vs. Chicago Cubs
0-for-4, 2 K

Don’t mess with Dumpster.

Pitcher

Darrell Rasner- New York Yankees
Vs. Oakland Athletics
Loss: 3.2 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 4 K

Maybe Giambi should just mass produce his little good luck charm.

- First David Ortiz, now Albert Pujols. It has been a tough couple of weeks if you own a slugging first baseman. How is a fantasy team to survive? Maybe A’s super-prospect Daric Barton can help out. He’s surging now after a terrible May.

- Rafael Furcal was tearing it up before he went down on May 6 with a back strain. Also: he’ll be a free agent this year. Funny how those things work out. Furcal says he doesn’t want to rush back until he’s fully healthy (why mess up a .366 batting average, right?), so don’t expect him to return before the All-Star Game.

- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick takes a look at some players who aren’t hitting for power like they should be. It is kind of crazy that Victor Martinez still has no homers. If it’s any wonder why my fantasy team is struggling, I drafted three guys on this list. You’re killing me, Cano.

- SI’s Tom Verducci goes out on a limb and says Chipper Jones won’t hit .400. Gee, thanks Tom. Hitting .400 is kind of hard. I think we all knew that. Still, if anyone is going to do it, Chipper Jones has a great shot. He’s been one of the more underrated hitters of his generation. Just take a look at his career stats: not many guys can OPS over 1.000 two years in a row at his age. And those on-base percentages. As for as hitters who started in the mid 90s (correction: who were in their prime in the mid-90s?), I may only take Griffey, Bonds, and A-Rod over Jones.

- Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports the Dodgers, currently 3.5 games back in the underwhelming NL West, could deal the young and awesome Matt Kemp for a veteran power bat at the trade deadline. I can’t imagine Dodgers fans would be pleased with a Kemp for Jason Bay swap, but they are still too busy mocking Paul Peirce to pay attention.

- Finally…is it ever too early to start talking fantasy football? I say no. We’ll kick up the football coverage in about a month, but the fine people at RotoArcade already have their eyes on a sleeper running back, and, wouldn’t you know, it’s the Bears very own Matt Forte. Forte’s worth should be determined by whether or not the Bears bring in a veteran free agent to split carries with him. In today’s paper, Brad Biggs takes a look at who is available. Kevin Jones wouldn’t be bad, I suppose. But if it’s just Peterson and Wolfe, Forte could be a third round pick, and probably the second rookie selected after the Raiders’ Darren McFadden.

Fighting fantasy baseball mediocrity

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Before I even start, let me just say that I know exactly how you feel.

For three months last year my friends ripped on me with the tenacity and vocabulary of an angry Ozzie Guillen.

And I deserved every second of it.

A little cocky heading into the 2007 campaign, I spent the entire month leading up until our fantasy baseball draft in the kind of trash-talking zone that would make Woody Harrelson in ‘White Man Can’t Jump’ jealous.

After the first week I was in second to last place and by this time last year I had managed to climb my way back into second to last place. Yeah, you read that right. It was hideous and the league did not let me forget about it.

So, like I said, I know how you feel.

You’re stuck somewhere in the middle of the pack in your fantasy baseball league and can’t figure out why. Day in and day out you set your lineup only to come back the next day to find your squad in exactly the same position as the day before.

Frustrating isn’t it?

There’s a multitude of reasons that can explain why this is happening to you. Sure, you could just be in the middle of a rough patch right now.

But then again, there’s a very good possibility your team just isn’t that good.

I know that’s the hardest realization for an owner to come to. But sometimes we as fantasy GM’s have a hard time taking an objective look at our rosters and making the decisions that need to be made, but those we don’t necessarily want to make.

There’s a lot of baseball left to play so don’t fret because there’s plenty of time to make up that ground between you and first place. So with that in mind, here are a couple of tips to help you break out of your fantasy slump.

Don’t be afraid to make a trade

There is a plethora of underachieving superstars out there right now that you could probably snag for a very reasonable price. The first name that comes to mind to me is Detroit Tigers first/third baseman Miguel Cabrera.

In previous years, you’d have every reason to question my fantasy acumen with that statement. However, ‘Miggy’ hasn’t been himself this year and may be had for the right price. Package together a couple of players on your team that are playing slightly above average and give it a shot.

I’m not saying it’s going to work, but sometimes you simply have to think outside of the box to get your team rolling. Trades can bring new life into areas of your team that weren’t doing anything productive for you in the first place. So roll the dice and take a chance. The worst thing that could happen is they say no.

Take a step back

Like I said before, you need to look at your team objectively and understand its deficiencies. Figure out what it is you need more than anything and figure out the best way to go and get it. If your big bats are striking out too much, make an effort to pick up a replacement that either plays the same or another position that hits more for average.

It may sound simple enough, but understand that complacency can doom you to fantasy mediocrity.

(Write that down.)

When you watch a game, make sure you watch the game

Huh?

Yeah, excuse the obligatory clever header there. What I’m trying to say is that you obviously got in to fantasy baseball because you enjoy the sport in some capacity or another. There’s probably an even better chance you might watch a few contests on T.V.

So from now on, make sure to pay attention to the other team’s players while you’re watching. Too many times I’ve found myself focusing more on what Disney character White Sox slugger Jim Thome looks like (Buzz Lightyear by the way) than who’s up to bat or who’s throwing to him.

You might develop a hunch about a guy that could pay off somewhere down the road. Pick him up, stash him on your bench and give it a couple weeks to see if your hunch was right.

If not, suck it up, drop him and pick up another one. It’s never a bad idea to have an extra roster slot for a ‘hunch’ guy.

Tuesday's studs...

Position players

Ryan Ludwick- St. Louis Cardinals (RF/LF)
Vs. Cincinnati Reds
4-for-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R

What’s going on with the Cardinals? I don’t know if it’s more surprising that St. Louis is 12 games over .500 or that they haven’t had anyone arrested for a DUI yet this season. Just when you think you know somebody, right? Well I heard Cedric Benson’s got some time on his hands now. Did you know he used to be a pretty good baseball player!? True story.

Hanley Ramirez- Florida Marlins (SS)
Vs. Philadelphia Phillies
2-for-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB

Hanley Ramirez is awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome. Yeah, five awesome’s. He’s that good. Quickly: Was the Josh Beckett for Hanley Ramirez swap possibly the most fair trade in the history of baseball? The Red Sox won a World Series because of the excellence of JB, while the Marlins got the best young shortstop of my lifetime.

Lance Berkman- Houston Astros (1B)
Vs. Milwaukee Brewers
3-for-4. 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 3B, 1 R

I realized Berkman was mashing this season at a record rate, but how does the dude they call Fat Elvis already have 10 steals? That’s a career high and we’re not even half way through June.

Pitchers

Dustin McGowan- Toronto Blue Jays (SP)
Vs. Seattle Mariners
Win: 9 IP, 1 ER, 7 K, 2 BB

Seriously, how do you expect me to write jokes about Dustin McGowan? I'm just not that funny. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

CC Sabathia- Cleveland Indians (SP)
Vs. Minnesota Twins
Win: 9 IP, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB

Ah, good ole’ CC Sabathia. It’s easy to make fun of him: he’s fat, you see. Last time Sabathia saw 90210, it was on the scale.

Roy Oswalt- Houston Astros (SP)
Vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Win: 7 IP, 1 ER, 10 K, 0 BB

From his wikipedia page:

Oswalt is known as a victorious pitcher at home.

Good to know.

As for Tuesday's bums...

Position Player

Edgar Renteria- Detroit Tigers (SS)
Vs. Chicago White Sox
0-for-4, 2K

Um, swinging and missing isn’t the best way to show Orlando Cabrera who the superior Venezuelan shortstop is, bro.

Pitcher

Jose Contreras- Chicago White Sox (SP)
Vs. Detroit Tigers
Loss: 6 IP, 6 ER, 1 K, 1 BB

For Sox fans, lets just hope that was only a one game slip up. At least their other Cuban guy is doing well…

Wounded Bird

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list today. He sprained his right middle finger in a start against the Houston Astros on Saturday and left the game shortly thereafter. They haven't said how many starts Wainwright expects to miss, but regardless this is a big loss in the fantasy realm. Joel Piniero will be coming off the disabled list himself this week, so he may be a short term solution if you find yourself in a tight spot.

Sharing is Caring

It looks like Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez and Brandon Inge will be sharing the catching duties for the Detroit Tigers from now on. According to the Detroit Free Press, Manager Jim Leyland said they will alternate days behind the plate regardless of who the team is playing. Pudge has had his fair of struggles at the plate this season, hitting only one homerun with a modest 21 RBI. Inge has five homers and 22 RBI in 30 less plate appearances than Pudge.

Bottom Line: With the two of them splitting time, it's going to be tough for you to count on them for consistent fantasy production. It may be wise to go find yourself another catcher or make sure you have both Inge and Pudge on your roster to create one funky looking catcher (and a complete waste of a roster spot).

Rocky Mountain High

Matt Holliday makes his triumphant return to the Colorado Rockies lineup tonight after missing the past 15 days on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. And wouldn't you know it, the San Francisco Giants and Pat Misch (0-2, 5.79 ERA) are in town to welcome him back. Scariest part about that statement is I'd rate Holliday's comeback even higher if it were Barry Zito on the bump tonight. Yikes.

Chipping the Pine

The Braves are in Chicago to play the first place Cubs and will be doing so without slugger Chipper Jones. A slight tear in his quadriceps has left him unable to run and therefore, unable to play. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones might be able to play later this week, so for now just play it cool. The guy was absolutely on fire up until this latest setback, and sits with a ridiculous .402 average on the season.

Time to Step Up

After losing DH David Ortiz for the next couple of months, the Boston Red Sox are in desperate need for the Josh Beckett from a year ago. The same holds true for those of you who drafted Beckett to be the ace of your rotation only to see him post an unimpressive 6-4 record with a trip to the DL in April. Tonight is going to be a true test for Beckett, going against an impressive Baltimore Orioles club when his team needs him most. Start him with confidence because Beckett thrives in these situations and seems to be better when the pressure is on.

Funniest Headline of the Day: Clemens: First 'roids, now Viagra?

600

Didn't get a chance to say this earlier, but congratulations to Ken Griffey Jr. for becoming the sixth person in history to hit 600 home runs in his career. I worshiped Junior throughout my misguided youth and to this day I am convinced if it wasn't for injuries, I'd be writing about him hitting his 700th home run. Without a doubt, Junior has the smoothest swing in baseball and is a sure fire Hall-of-Famer.

Cuban Cubs?

Even as a Sox fan, I have to admit, it would be pretty cool to have Mark Cuban become owner of the Chicago Cubs.

Since this is the first day of our new fantasy sports blog, we need to get something out of the way: Jay Bruce. Now that we’ve mentioned him, this is all starting to feel official.

If you aren’t one of the lucky few that owns the Reds’ young slugger on your fantasy baseball team, you may want to take a look at acquiring Vernon Wells, who recently came off the disabled list for the Blue Jays. Wells is probably owned in most leagues, but could be a good trade target if you need help in center field.

Let’s make one thing clear: this isn’t the same Vernon Wells we saw last year. You know, the guy that looked like the position player counterpart of Barry Zito, after flaming out in the first season of a new seven-year, $126 million contract. With all the hate he received last year, you may have thought fantasy owners were talking about David Wells, not Vernon. But this wasn’t an obvious case of too many helpings of cheesecake: Wells seems to become a significantly worse player overnight for no apparent reason.

A stellar 2006 season made Wells arguably fantasy baseball’s premier center fielder. That year, he smacked 32 homers, stole a career-high 17 bases, and drove in 106 runs, all while hitting above .300. That type of production made Wells a second round pick in most drafts.

Then his OPS dropped nearly .200 points the next season, to a Corey Patterson like .706. He may have been fantasy baseball’s biggest bust.

Maybe it was the pressure of playing with such a big contract. Whatever the problem was, it seemed to disappear before Wells got hurt on May 9. On June 7, Wells came off the DL with a bang: in his first two games back, he went 5-for-7 with two runs, two RBI, and a homer.

Wells went hitless last night against the Mariners, but has some favorable series approaching with the Blue Jays drawing the NL Central in interleague play. Besides the Cubbies, no team in that division should scare anyone.

Here are the players who stood out amongst the rest during Monday night's action around the league:

Position Players

Evan Longoria - Tampa Bay Rays (3B)
vs. L.A. Angels
3-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R

Some scoffed at the nine year deal given to rookie Evan Longoria only two weeks after being called up from Triple-A. But when Longoria goes off like this it's hard to argue with the Rays' logic. The 22-year-old phenom looks to be everything as advertised and is going to be a fantasy powerhouse from this point going forward.

Nick Swisher - Chicago White Sox (OF, 1B)
vs. Minnesota Twins
2-2, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB

The switch-hitting Swisher (try saying that five times fast) extended his hitting streak to seven games and completed a rare feat by homering from both sides of the plate against the Twins. After suffering through a miserable stretch that lasted the entire month of May, 'Dirty 30' looks to be back on track and may be there for the taking on your league's waiver wire. Might be worth a look.

Paul Bako - Cincinnati Reds (C)
vs. Florida Marlins
2-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB

You've got a better chance of marrying Megan Fox than Reds catcher Paul Bako has to put up these kinds of numbers anytime soon. In his 13 years of MLB service, Bako has only hit more than two home runs in an entire season six times. That should give you an idea as to how much of a fluke occurrence this really is. So sit back, relax and get ready to make fun of the guy in your league that stayed up until 3 a.m. to grab Bako off the waiver wire.

Pitchers

Mike Mussina - New York Yankees (SP)
vs. Kansas City Royals
8 IP, 2 ER, 3 K, 0 BB, ND

'Moose' is the only consistent option the Yankees have on their staff and despite giving his team eight strong innings, he still couldn't get the win. He's put together a very quiet 9-4 record so far this season on a Yankees team that's struggling to play .500 baseball.

Matt Cain - San Francisco Giants (SP)
vs. the Washington Nationals
6.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 K, 1 BB, W

The big right-hander looked filthy against the Nationals, racking up six strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work while giving up only one earned run. Stats like these are even more impressive when you realize the Giants are comprised of players who qualify for the senior citizen discount at Denny's.

Jarrod Washburn – Seattle Mariners (SP)
vs. Toronto Blue Jays
6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 K, 3 BB, W

As the Mariners continue their journey down to the cellar of MLB, Jarrod Washburn found a way to slow the descent Monday with a solid outing against the Toronto Blue Jays. Unfortunately it's nothing to get excited over in fantasy terms because teams are still hitting a whopping .360 against Washburn in his last seven starts with a 6.75 ERA to boot in that same time span. Stay away, stay far away.


And now for the under achievers from Monday:

Position Players

Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers (1B, 3B)
vs. the Cleveland Indians
0-4, K, 4 LOB

A game like this sums up the season for Cabrera and the lowly Tigers. He's owned in 100 percent of the ESPN fantasy baseball leagues and many of those GM's are regretting using that high first round draft pick on him. Look on the bright side though, at least you're not on the hook for the $153.3 million the Tigers gave him at the start of the season.

Pitchers

Dontrelle Willis – Detroit Tigers (SP)
vs. the Cleveland Indians
1.1 IP, 3 hits, 8 ER, 5 BB, 2 HR

If you haven't already, it's about time to throw in the towel on Dontrelle Willis. The man with the most awkward delivery since Hideo Nomo was hurling for the Los Angeles Dodgers has been a complete bust this season. He had a tough time just getting the ball over the plate tonight and when he did, the Indians jumped all over him to the tune of eight runs and a pair of round-trippers. Don't be surprised if you see Willis heading back to the DL in the very near future.


Good morning and welcome to the debut of The Fantasy Factor, your daily resource for fantasy information.

This little introductory post is intended to give you an idea of what to expect from our corner of the blog-o-sphere.

Ricky O'Donnell and Matthew Olsen are going to be giving you fresh content throughout the day intended to help you navigate the fantasy sports landscape. We'll take a look at last night's games and give you a rundown of the top performers and those who disappointed.

Around midday be on the lookout for a longer article that aims to take a look at trends throughout fantasy sports so that you can stay on top of the game. Topics will include players to keep an eye on, injury updates, minor league call-ups, player rankings and most importantly, our FANTASY MAILBAG.

Once a week we'll sort through YOUR emails and answer any and every fantasy sports related question you could possibly come up with. Want to know if you should make that trade, who to start in a pinch or who to start in general? Shoot us an email and we'll be happy to help out.

But along the way we're going to have some fun too because in all honesty, thinking about stats for too long makes our heads hurt.

So thanks for stopping by and make sure to check back throughout the day for updates!

About the bloggers

Matt Wood is a web editor for suntimes.com and editor of CenterstageChicago.com. He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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