After the Break, Some Fly, Others Flop

by Moonlight Graham

Moonlight regular, Joe Mreczko, posed a question about pitchers that might be able to help his Fantasy Baseball team over the second half of the season.  It’s actually a two-sided question, as any Fantasy Baseball owner should be just as worried about the hurlers to avoid as the ones to target.  So, in order to help Joe work his way past all of the Phillie cheese steaks in his league, here’s a special, Moonlight, second half preview from sixty feet six inches.

Grab Bag

Any list of post All Star Break Studs has to begin with Johan Santana as the Mets’ ace is 64-19 over his career in the second half.  Don’t be fooled by his mundane 8-5 record, either. He’s suffered eight no decisions in which he’s allowed just nine runs.  Use his struggles to your advantage by grabbing him from J-Roller frustrated to this point.

Detroit’s Max Scherzer must have been given a magic elixir upon being sent to the minors a little more than a month ago as he suddenly discovered the velocity that had been missing through the early part of the season.  Since his return, Scherzer is 4-3 while averaging 7 K per start.  His numbers still appear unimpressive because of the slow start so, he may come cheap.

Javier Vasquez has spent half a season seeking the approval of ignorant Yankee fans convinced he didn’t belong in the rotation.  He’s the #2 starter now, (as predicted here in February), but may still be undervalued.  Go out and grab him. Continue reading »

The Marlins’ decision to send Ricky Nolasco to the minors earlier in the year is fieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyhpaying tremendous dividends right now as Nolasco is leading Florida’s charge to the top of the NL East. Sunday, Nolasco continued his hot streak with 12 K over 8 shutout IP… I’ve been asked more than a few times if Tigers’ 3B Brandon Inge is a Sell High candidate. At the hot corner, he might be, but his eligibility behind the plate makes him a keeper…Chicago’s Jermaine Dye, already with 20 HR and 51 RBI, is not only one of the more consistent performers in the game, he’s also one of the most underrated in most fantasy baseball rankings… While the Rockies try to convince themselves and others that Garrett Atkins will turn things around in the second half, the fact that the third baseman’s numbers have not improved a bit while Colorado has become the NL’s hottest team is enough to make me stay away… Mike MacDougal, 5 for 5 in S opportunities since becoming Washington’s closer, is this week’s example of why you should never reach for closers in your fantasy baseball draft… Baltimore’s Matt Wieters 3 H, 1 HR performance on Sunday raised his BA to .277 during a hot streak that started on Father’s Day when I got my Wieters t-shirt from my kids… Derrek Lee and David Ortiz have spent the month of June proving that players with hand or wrist injuries need warm weather more than anything in order to return to form… Seattle’s Brandon Morrow has strung together three solid performances as he readjusts to the starting rotation… Be careful if you have Alex Rios on your fantasy baseball team. You might be inclined to try and time Rios’ hot streaks, especially now that he’s been dropped to seventh in Toronto’s order. Don’t… In St. Louis, Colby Rasmus has 10 HR and 32 RBI in limited playing time. Keep an eye on him, though, as he’s still struggling to gain Tony LaRussa’s confidence and may lose AB when Mark DeRosa returns to the lineup… Tigers’ rookie hurler Rick Porcello, after a sensational start, may be hitting a wall, as indicated by two straight tough outings. Don’t give up on him… Vladimir Guerrero returned to the Angels’ outfield this weekend after serving exclusively as the team’s DH to this point… Dan Haren has issued just 15 BB in 17 starts… In his last 43 plate appearances, Lance Berkman has reached base 25 times… Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have combined for 134 RBI to this point and the anemic Brewers have needed every one of them… Only Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, Ralph Kiner, and Harmon Killebrew hit 300 HR in less AB than Adam Dunn, who reached the plateau this weekend…

Buy Low- With his A’s in the basement and the trade deadline approaching, look for Billy Beane to move Matt Holliday soon. A move out of Oakland’s spacious ballpark could be just what he needs… Might be your last chance for David Ortiz, as his 8 HR in June indicate his hand is all the way back…

Sell High- Now that the Padres have traded Scott Hairston, no one is left to protect Adrian Gonzalez, who had 21 BB while Hairston was on the DL… 3B Aramis Ramirez is expected to return to the Cubs’ lineup today, signaling the likely end of regular playing time for Jake Fox… Alfonso Soriano is on this list instead of the Drop Zone only because he has a recognizable name. He’s carrying a .226 BA and has been dropped to sixth in the Cubs’ order…

Grab Bag- Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera has been performing capably in the leadoff spot with a .304 BA… Ben Francisco, after posting a .141 June BA, hit .409 over the Indians’ nine game homestand… Tony Gwynn is the Padres’ only true CF and should remain in the leadoff spot for awhile… Pittsburgh’s Virgil Vasquez has turned in a quality start in each of his two starts since being called up from AAA…

Drop Zone- Just because the Yankees are obsessed with force feeding Joba Chamberlain into their starting rotation doesn’t mean you should. He can’t get out of the fifth inning… Josh Fields is out of a job as the White Sox have given Gordon Beckham the 3B spot…

Sick Bay- Kansas City’s Mike Aviles is through for the season after Tommy John surgery…Randy Johnson left his last start with a left shoulder strain…

Farm Fresh- Milwaukee’s Manny Parra, who struggled mightily early in the season, is 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA in four AAA starts since being sent down.

by Moonlight Graham

The HK Fantasy Baseball League

Did he really do that?

Last Sunday morning, having received an absolute gem from Johan Santana the day before, Skippy Shakes owner Bob Carr looked at the HK Fantasy standings and found himself one point ahead of the Mean Street Posse and a point and a half ahead of Ricciardi Brothers Inc. Having waged a two month assault on the top spot from as far back as twenty seven points, Carr had finally grabbed the lead with just one day to go. Unfortunately, he couldn’t leave well enough alone and almost managed himself out of a title.

One of the deals that catapulted his Shakes squad in the last two months was the acquisition of C.C. Sabathia. As the Brewers’ ace carried his squad toward the playoffs, he also carried Carr; allowing the Shakes to make huge gains in the pitching categories. So, with C.C. on the bump for Milwaukee’s finale, Carr was sitting pretty. Santana had given him the slightest of leads in ERA and WHIP. Leads that were crucial to holding on to the top spot. So, what did Carr do? He reserved Sabathia rather than risk a bad outing. The plan was to stay right where he was and allow the others to fall back. Sadly, he paid no mind to the results of his last grand plan to protect his ERA; the ill fated benching of Hideo Nomo on the day he threw a no-no at Coor’s Field. Lightning couldn’t strike twice in the same place, could it?

As Sabathia was holding the Cubbies to just four hits and one run during his complete game, Carr watched in horror as Jerry Manuel summoned Luis Ayala from the bullpen for the Mets. True to form, Ayala grooved one for Dan Uggla, pushing Carr’s ERA just below Ricciardi Bros. and creating a three way tie. That Tim Lincecum and Ubaldo Jimenez had strong outings for RBI only served to drop the Shakes further down in the category. Carr was distraught.

Resigning himself to being the perpetrator of the biggest bonehead move in league history, he flipped through the channels to see if there were any games still going on. That’s when he stumbled across the ninth inning of the Mariners- A’s game and found the now beautiful J.J.Putz standing on the mound protecting a one run lead. Forgetting for the moment that he had cursed Putz’s incompetence for two months, he now begged his fellow redhead for just three outs. You see, Carr was also tied in the saves category and could gain a critical half point if Putz could only close out the A’s. He did and Carr had his league title by the slimmest of margins. He still pulled the biggest gaffe in fantasy league history but at least it didn’t cost him a Yoo-Hoo shower.

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Next week, we’ll start to look back at the 2008 season with Fantasy Awards and readers’ tales of their successes and failures, booms and busts and plans going forward. Enjoy the playoffs as we turn our focus back to the world where the only numbers that count are the ones on the scoreboard. Incidentally, I like a Rays- Cubs World Series so, you might want to put a little money down on any of the other six teams.

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