Ricky O'Donnell: July 2008 Archives

The Browns were the surprise of the NFL last year. Forever clumped with the Clippers, Royals, Pirates, and Arizona Cardinals as a perennial loser, all that changed when Derek Anderson led Cleveland to a 10-6 record. They did it with a blitzkrieg offense, which means they have a lot of desirable players for fantasy teams. Braylon Edwards will be the first Brown taken in fantasy leagues, but Anderson and tight end Kellen Winslow won't be far behind.

A post in which we advise you to pick up a member of the- gulp- Kansas City Royals.

The Ravens have long been known for their tenacious defense, which means one thing: they don't have a lot of valuable fantasy players. Running back Willis McGahee, a second round pick in most leagues, is the Ravens' most desirable player, but the pickings are slim after that. The Baltimore team defense, however, will again be one of the first defensive crews selected.

The offense could take a jump in coming years now that John Harbaugh has replaced Brian Billick as head coach. Much will depend on the development of Joe Flacco, the rookie signal caller that could be thrown into the fire right away.

While the White Sox were taking two of three from the Tigers over the weekend, they also managed to have a big impact on fantasy teams.

While some bloggers think the Eagles are set up for failure this season, their track record under Andy Reid would prove otherwise. Always a staple in the race for the NFC East crown, Philadelphia has only not finished above .500 three times in Reid's nine seasons as head coach. One of those times was last year, when the Eagles closed out their season with three straight wins, but it wasn't enough to get them into the playoffs at only 8-8.

As always, the Eagles will be led by quarterback Donavon McNabb, who has gone from a young, exciting, elusive signal caller to a savvy veteran seemingly overnight. While the Mt. Carmel product is the face of the franchise, running back Brian Westbrook is the team's most coveted fantasy player. He will be a top five selection in most leagues.

With the first half behind us, here are some AL players to keep in a eye on in the second half.

While hyping up the post-Tommy John surgery return of Marlins starter Josh Johnson today, Yahoo's Brandon Funston also points out that another Tommy John victim, Twins starter Francisco Liriano, is owned in 40% of Yahoo leagues.

After dealing with the murder of their best player and, to a lesser extent, a season ending injury to their starting quarterback, the Washington Redskins went on one of the most inspirational runs in recent NFL history. The Redskins blew the first game after Sean Taylor's death because of a gaffe by head coach Joe Gibbs, but they rallied to win their final four games, secure a winning 9-7 record, and making the playoffs.

In fantasy terms, the Redskins are not one of the NFL's most attractive teams. Quarterback Jason Campbell is young and still unknown, and though Clinton Portis was extremely productive last year, he has a history of disappointing fantasy owners. If nothing else, Chris Cooley may be the only player in your league who is a blogger.

No one has ever accused Dallas of being the most, um, conservative franchise in the NFL. They take flyers defenders with checkered pasts, own the sport's most outrageous personality, and have a quarterback who gets more attention from US Weekly than Sports Illustrated. Still, it's a team that returns nearly everyone from last year's 13-3 NFC East division champs, and has valuable fantasy players throughout the roster.

Three up

Jermaine Dye- Chicago White Sox (RF)
Vs. Texas Rangers
4-for-5, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, BB

When the Sox’ offense is clicking on all cylinders- as it was yesterday- few teams can match their explosiveness. Dye may not be an All-Star but he has been as important as any Sox player this first half. Is there an AL team with a more potent 3-4 combo than Dye and Carlos Quentin? As long as the pitching can keep it up, the Sox will be a contender down the stretch.

AJ Burnett- Toronto Blue Jays
Vs. New York Yankees
Win: 8 1/3 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 8 K

Toronto has outscored their opponents by more runs (23) than Anaheim has (21) this season, but have ten fewer wins. Such are the perils of playing in the AL East with those mighty Rays.

Chad Billingsley- Los Angeles Dodgers
Vs. Florida Marlins
Win: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 13 K

Who is the worse free agent signing (and fantasy player!) in the NL West: Andruw Jones or Barry Zito. No wonder no team in that division is over .500 at the All-Star break.

One down

Josh Willingham- Florida Marlins (LF)
Vs. LA Dodgers
0-for-4, 3 K

Willingham has been as dependable as always since returning from a lengthy DL stint three weeks ago, yesterday just wasn’t his day. Before that, his last five games, Willingham tallied five hits and three walks.

Dave Bush- Brewers
Vs. Colorado
Win: 8IP 4 H, 0 R, 13 K

CC Sabathia is supposed is to be the ace, but Bush has been lights out lately.

Howie Kendrick- Angels
@ Tex
3-for-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R

The Angels are the best team in the AL West,and Kendrick is a big reason why.

Justin Morneau- Minnesota Twins
Vs. Tigers
5-for-5, HR, RBI, 2 R, BB

Morneau has been on a tear lately. The Twins are as dangerous as any team in the AL Central.

Three up

Carlos Zambrano- Chicago Cubs
Vs. Cincinnati Reds
Win: 8 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 5 K

Zambrano’s second straight strong start since his return from the disabled list will appease fantasy owners as much as Lou Piniella. Really, Zambrano is one of the premier starting pitchers in baseball, and fantasy players know what they’re getting from him every time he takes the mound. You can tell Carlos I said all these nice things about him, but just read that last sentence aloud instead of sending him a link. We know surfing the web has given him trouble in the past.

Garrett Atkins- Colorado Rockies
@ Milwaukee Brewers
3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

Anytime a Rockies hitter rakes on the road, fantasy owners just consider it a bonus. No matter where he’s playing, Atkins has been one of the NL’s top third basemen for three consecutive years now. Though he’s owned in 100% of ESPN fantasy leagues, you may want to look at trading for him. In nine June games, Atkins has 17 hits and 12 RBI.

Carlos Quentin- Chicago White Sox
@ Kansas City Royals
2-for-3, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, BB

Though nothing as remarkable as a two-run sac fly happened last night, Quentin was the Sox’ only offensive force for most of the game. He’s been a fantasy All-Star this year and is certainly in contention for waiver wire pickup of the year.

One down

Paul Konerko- White Sox
@ Kansas City Royals
0-for-4, 4 K

Yeah, it doesn’t get much worse than that. Unfortunately for the Sox, the former World Series hero seems to be losing more than his hair.

Three up

Justin Duchscherer- Oakland A’s (SP)
Vs. Seattle Mariners
Win: CG, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 K

Get your bags packed Justin. Since Duchscherer is leading the AL in ERA right now, I’m sure Oakland GM Billy Beane could get a king’s ransom in return for the 30-year old. A’s fans hope that if Duchscherer is traded, Oakland can get more in return than Sean Gallagher and a few spare parts. Seriously, how do the Cubbies get Harden without giving up Josh Vitters, Tyler Colvin, or Felix Pie? If Harden is healthy, the Cubs made a great move.

Andy Pettitte- New York Yankees (SP)
Vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Win: 8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 5 K

It’s pretty remarkable that Pettitte was able to put all the preseason steroid talk behind him and turn in a very solid first half. With an ERA under 4 and a nearly 3-1 strikeout to walk ratio, Pettitte has been as reliable as any AL pitcher so far. Still, the Yankees are going to need a lot more from everyone else to catch the Rays and Red Sox.

Miguel Cabrera- Detroit Tigers (1B)
Vs. Cleveland Indians
4-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

It’s about time Cabrera turned in a performance like this. Though his .291/.356/.495 line is good, the Tigers were expecting more from the man they gave $153 million to. With the Tigers pitching looking wobbly, it’ll be up to Cabrera and the rest of the Tigers offense to live up to expectations and start raking for Detroit to catch the White Sox and Twins.

One down

Jermaine Dye- White Sox (RF)
Vs. Kansas City Royals
0-for-6, 2 K

As we’ve pointed out on here endlessly, Dye has been scorching hot lately. Is this a sign that he’s cooling down or just a one-game aberration? We’ll see.

Lots more throughout the Olsen-O'Donnell blogosphere today:

Check out TUP for reaction on the Rich Harden trade and a breakdown of last night's Sox victory.

Go to TTCS to see why we are excited for the NFL to return.

Three Up

Torii Hunter- Los Angeles Angels (CF)
Vs. Texas Rangers
3-for-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

As a Sox fan- yeah, this blog is written by two Sox fans, get over it- I really feel like the stars are aligning this season. Take away Hunter, Johan Santana, and CC Sabathia, and the AL Central isn’t as scary as it once was. Of course, the Sox will likely have to tussle with Hunter’s Angels to get anywhere meaningful, and LA looks like a juggernaut right now. Hunter has just been ok offensively so far, and the Angels already have a 6.5 game division lead. If he gets hot, watch out.

Hiroki Kuroda- Los Angeles Dodgers (SP)
Vs. Atlanta Braves
Win: CG, 1 H, 0 ER, 6 K

The Dodgers may have been the real loser in the Sabathia trade. The NL West lacks one real good team, and acquiring the big lefty could have turned the Dodgers into that. Still, if Kuroda, a 33-year old who’s having a fine season, keeps pitching like this, Sabathia would be an afterthought. Kuroda took a perfect game into the eighth inning.

Ricky Nolasco- Florida Marlins (SP)
Vs. San Diego Padres
Win: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 7 K

I’m not sure if normal people do this, but I automatically root for anyone named Ricky in sports. While Rick Nash is probably the top Richard around right now, Nolasco is making a strong push towards the top. Don’t be so surprised by yesterday’s performance either: Olsen told you the ex-Cub farmhand was someone to keep an eye on a week ago.

One down

Adrian Gonzalez- San Diego Padres (1B)
Vs. Florida Marlins
0-for-4, K

Adrian Gonzalez really is one of baseball’s most underrated forces, so don’t expect many stat lines like last night. Oh well, I guess everyone occasionally has an off-day. Except for Olsen.

Three up

Grady Sizemore- Cleveland Indians (CF)
Vs. Chicago White Sox
3-for-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R, BB, SB

Something tells me Mark Chmura would enjoy Grady Sizemore’s fan club a little more than Grady Sizemore does.

Dustin Pedroia- Boston Red Sox (2B)
Vs. Tampa Bay Rayz
4-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R

I doubt Pedroia is doing much dancing after that sweep.

Jay Bruce- Cincinnati Reds (CF)
Vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
2-for-3, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, BB

“Tenth! Tenth? Olsen ranked ME tenth!? What the….”

One down

Jeff Francoeur- Atlanta Braves
Vs. Philadelphia Phillies
0-for-4, 3 K

Finally, a man Philli fans won’t boo and shower with batteries.

Three up

Matt Cain- San Francisco Giants
Vs. Chicago Cubs
Win: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 10 K

Cain was brilliant last night, and had to be because, as always, he received little run support. Cain's real problem? He isn’t pitching in 1996. Throw together a lineup of Rich Aurilia, Ray Durham, Omar Vizquel, and Dave Roberts then and you’ve got a juggernaut.

Matt Cain: A man clearly ahead of his time.

Aaron Cook- Colorado Rockies
Vs. San Diego Padres
Win: CG, 5 H, 0 ER, 4 K

In the all-time Cook Rankings, Aaron finds himself somewhere below Beano and above Dane. Seriously, I could listen to Beano Cook talk all day.

John Danks- Chicago White Sox
Vs. Cleveland Indians
ND: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 8 K

Let’s run down all the wonderful things White Sox fans must love about John Danks.

1. He’s quietly become the ace of the Sox’ staff.
2. The man he was traded for, Brandon McCarthy, hasn’t done anything in Texas and is currently on the 60-day DL.
3. Proclaimed Wrigley Field is a "(bleep)hole" that wreaks of urine.

Because of all this- before the age of 23, I may add- I propose the nickname ‘John Tanks’. Now if only he could play quarterback…

One down

Randy Johnson- Arizona Diamondbacks
Vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Loss: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 6 K

The Big Unit is unquestionably the coolest pitcher of his generation. Even when he gets rocked, like last night when he couldn’t get out of the fourth, he still strikes out six guys.

- Saves have always been a tad overrated in fantasy baseball, but it’s hard to ignore the pace Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez is on. The Bobby Thigpen Watch is officially on, writes ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, and if Rodriguez can close out 58 games, a small part of Matt’s childhood will die.

- Speaking of closers, Chad Cordero, one of baseball’s best the last three seasons, is done for the year with a shoulder injury. Jon Rauch will continue to get the save chances in his absence.

- SI’s Tom Verducci hands out some midseason awards, and he has Carlos Quentin taking home the AL MVP.

- Juan Pierre to the DL. Now may be a good time to take a look at Andre Ethier.


Three up

Roy Halladay- Toronto Blue Jays
Vs. Seattle Mariners
Win: CG, 4 H, 0 ER, 6 K

Apparently Halladay is better at pitching than money management.

Jhonny Peralta- Cleveland Indians
Vs. Chicago White Sox
5-for-5, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R

Jhonny? Really? Was that a mistake or did his parents do that on purpose?

Mark DeRosa
Vs. San Francisco Giants
3-for-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, BB

Yeah, but since he did it against Barry Zito, it shouldn’t really count.

One down

Milton Bradley- Texas Rangers
Vs. New York Yankees
0-for-4, 4 K

Thanks for killing my fantasy team last night Milt! I thought I was in for a monster day after that Swisher grand slam, but nope.

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 a archive of recent entries written by Ricky O'Donnell in July 2008.

Ricky O'Donnell: June 2008 is the previous archive.

Ricky O'Donnell: August 2008 is the next archive.

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