by Moonlight Graham

Beware the Young Studs

So, you’re beginning to prepare for your Fantasy Baseball Draft and the annual dilemma of when to start assembling your pitching staff rears its ugly head. “Can I really let Tim Lincecum get past my early, second round pick?”  “If Johan Santana falls to the fourth round, is he worth the risk?” And, finally, “When do I look to grab one of the young guns that could put my staff over the top?”  Well, to answer the first two, Lincecum would be a tough pass at that point in any Fantasy Baseball Draft and Johan is a steal if he drops to the fourth round.  As for the third question, there’s a little more to consider than potential. Continue reading »

by Moonlight Graham

Pitchers and Hitters

Despite the fact that the Red Sox took a beating last week in the Bronx, Josh fieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyhBeckett, Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester all turned in solid performances on the hill…   Baltimore’s Aubrey Huff has cleared waivers and can now be dealt… Despite posting stellar numbers in Seattle, Jarrod Washburn has been brutal in two starts since being traded to Detroit.  Some guys seem to thrive on mediocre teams… Angels’ OF Vlad Guerrero is 10 for 28 with 4 HR since returning from the DL… Since the All Star break, Twins’ starters have an ERA of 5.97, severely limiting Joe Nathan’s save opportunities… Ichiro Suzuki is 30 hits shy of becoming the first Major Leaguer with 200 hits in 9 consecutive seasons… Milwaukee’s Manny Parra is 4-0, 1.10 since returning from the minors… The Phillies have moved Jamie Moyer into the bullpen to clear a spot in the rotation for Pedro Martinez.  Hard to imagine Moyer will have any Fantasy Baseball value as a reliever… San Diego rookie Mat Latos has 4 wins in his first 5 starts… Nyjer Morgan is hitting .362 since coming to Washington from Pittsburgh… Troy Tulowitzki, fresh off a 7 RBI game that featured a cycle, is now batting cleanup for the Rockies… Is there any MLB player that gets less respect than Adam Dunn?  On his way to his fifth straight 40 HR season, Dunn almost had to beg for a contract last winter before signing with the Nationals… Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera are all nursing minor injuries.  Don’t be surprised if Yankee manager Joe Girardi takes advantage of their six game lead and gives each an occasional day off… The Brewers’ sent the struggling J.J. Hardy to the minors and presented Fantasy Baseball owners with an opportunity for some quick, cheap SB by handing the SS job to rookie Alcides Escobar, who had 42 SB when called up… Boston’s Kevin Youkilis will not appeal the five game suspension for his ridiculous overreaction to being plunked Monday night by Rick Porcello… Porcello was also handed a 5 game ban but will only miss one turn in the Tigers’ rotation… 30 of Rays’ 1B Carlos Pena’s 85 H have been HR.

Buy Low

In Detroit, Magglio Ordonez has turned in three straight solid performances vs. RHP and may be on the verge of getting his full time job back.  He’s not the Magglio we all know and love but, he could help you down the stretch… Seattle’s Franklin Gutierrez has been moved up to the second spot in the order and should see a bump in R…

Sell High

Kenji Johjima is losing playing time to Rob Johnson and hasn’t made consecutive starts in a month… Not only did Tampa Bay drop B.J. Upton to ninth in the batting order, he’s pissing and moaning about it; not a good sign… Roy Oswalt was cuffed around in his first start off the DL and may be more valuable to you in a trade…

Grab Bag

Kyle Davies makes his second consecutive appearance in the Grab Bag after a strong outing vs. Minnesota.  He’s worth a shot, especially in AL only leagues… Royals’ 1B Billy Butler has 36 doubles and is a FA in most mixed leagues.  Don’t forget his September power surge last year… Denard Span was 9-14 vs. Detroit last weekend and seems to have jumped ahead of Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez in the crowded Minnesota outfield… If you’re looking for W in your AL only league, Seattle’s Ryan Rowland-Smith might be a nice pickup based on his two solid outings since coming off the DL… Trent Oeltjen has started his MLB career with a .500 BA over his first 6 games and will be a regular in the D’Backs’ OF with Chris Young gone… Don’t look now but Barry Zito is 3-0 2.19 over his last 4 starts…

Drop Zone

Can’t believe there will be much playing time left for Scott Podsednik in Chicago now that Alex Rios is on board.  There may only be pinch running and an occasional start… Jose Contreras is 0-4 6.75 over his last five and doesn’t even warrant a spot on a deep, AL only roster. Dump him before Ozzie Guillen does… Tampa plans to use a platoon behind the plate, giving Gregg Zaun most of the AB and rendering Dioner Navarro worthless… Patience has finally run out in Arizona for OF Chris Young who was dispatched to the minors this week…

Sick Bay

Carlos Delgado has experienced a setback in his rehab and will probably not return this season… Justin Duchscherrer returns to Oakland’s rotation this weekend after being out all year with elbow and back issues… Cubs’ 3B Aramis Ramirez is experiencing soreness in the shoulder he dislocated in May… Chad Billingsley missed a start for the Dodgers with a strained hamstring but should avoid the DL…

I blame Joe Torre. Ever since he took five American League shortstops to the 2002 All Star game in order to accommodate his own, Derek Jeter, managers fieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyhon both sides have deemed it their right to favor their players over the rest of the league. This year, however, Joe Maddon and Charlie Manuel took it to a new level. Maddon managed to squeeze his entire infield on to the AL team, naming 1B Carlos Pena as a replacement for 2B Dustin Pedroia and ignoring Ian Kinsler. Manuel not only nominated an undeserving Shane Victorino for the fan voting that would determine the NL’s last player but then named him as the starting CF when Carlos Beltran bowed out. The problem with this baseball nepotism is that, now, the All Star game determines home field advantage in the playoffs. By allowing the league managers to act like Little League fathers, MLB is compromising the integrity of the process while potentially putting one of the League Champions at a disadvantage heading into the Fall Classic… With Geovany Soto on the DL, Jake Fox becomes the Cubs’ backup catcher … The Marlins will continue to alternate Leo Nunez and Dan Meyer to close games while Matt Lindstrom is on the DL… Milwaukee skipper Ken Macha was thrilled with Manny Parra’s first outing since returning from the minors, especially his confidence… While David Ortiz has been heating up, he has only managed 1 HR on the road… ChiSox starter Clayton Richard has a 10.80 ERA over list last 5 starts and will be given one post-break chance to stay in the rotation… The Royals will welcome 3B Alex Gordon and SS Yuniesky Betancourt back from rehab assignments as early as Friday… The Mariners unexpectedly shipped Brandon Morrow to the minors and may bring him back the next time they need a fifth starter on July 25th.

* * * * *

As Fantasy owners prepare for the second half, let’s take a look at some of the players who’ll contribute to that championship run and some others who’ll serve as roadblocks.

CATCHER- Colorado’s Chris Iannetta has struggled through an injury plagued first half, as have many who participated in the WBC. However, his power numbers are all ahead of last year’s breakout pace. Roll the dice that he’ll stay healthy. Houston’s Pudge Rodriguez has reverted to the disastrous form that got him waived in Detroit. Swinging at everything, he has just 11 BB in 245 AB while his BA has dipped to .245. It’ll get worse the rest of the way.

FIRST BASE- Adam LaRoche of the Pirates is simply and inexplicably a late season stat machine. He’s averaged 24 HR and 88 RBI over the last three seasons with the bulk of those numbers coming after the break. That’s 12 HR and 50 RBI probably sitting on your waiver wire. After a hot start, Adrian Gonzalez has faded as pitchers refuse to throw him anything in the strike zone. Now he’s pressing, as evidenced by his .250 BA. If the Padres can’t protect him, he’s worth moving in your Fantasy League.

SECOND BASE- Inserted into the third spot in Seattle’s order, look for a big second half from this 25 year old Jose Lopez who’s on pace for career highs in HR and RBI. Don’t expect the Angels to be too patient with Howie Kendrick. With no pop, his BA was his only asset and that’s now hovering around the .240 level.

THIRD BASE- For the same reason telling you to stay away from Adrian Gonzalez, you should take a look at Kevin Kouzmanoff. The Padres’ third sacker has benefited from batting ahead of Gonzalez and fashioned a hot streak that has raised his RBI total to 47. While San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval has had a wonderful season to this point, he’s likely to hit a wall around the 400 AB mark in his first full season; especially with that body. He’d bring a lot in a trade right now. (Disregard these remarks if he’s eligible @ C in your league.)

SHORTSTOP- J.J. Hardy has one great half for the Brewers every year. After his putrid performance to this point, the bet here is that he finishes strong. He’s had three multi hit games in his last seven. Does anyone really think that the Astros’ Miguel Tejada, at his unconfirmed, advanced age, can continue at this clip for the rest of the year? I don’t. Move him now.

OUTFIELD- B.J. Upton spent most of the first two months working his way back from wrist surgery. He hit .324 in June and will probably top 60 SB. Don’t forget his power surge in last year’s post season, either. In Washington, the Nats have finally sorted their OF situation and Josh Willingham has taken full advantage. He’s on a tear right now and has a .419 OBP. Michael Cuddyer is healthy again in Minnesota and looks very much like the guy with 109 RBI in 2006. The Indians’ Grady Sizemore will need elbow surgery in the off season. With his BA sagging and the Tribe in the AL Central cellar, it’s possible they’ll pull the plug on his season at some point. Adam Jones is another young sensation who’s a good bet to hit the wall at some point in the second half. He’s been terrific so far for the Orioles and would bring a boatload of help in a trade. Chris Young teased the D’Backs a few years ago with his 32 HR 27 SB debut season. They’re almost completely out of patience with his .196 BA, however, and you should be, too.

STARTING PITCHER- Look for John Lackey to reclaim his dominant style after the break as he’s been slowly but surely rounding into form over his last few starts for the Angels A few weeks ago we warned that Aaron Harang could be in trouble after Dusty baker brought him back following a one hour rain delay. A similar gaffe by the Reds’ manager last year sent Harang spiraling downward. Since that column, Harang has posted a 7.00 ERA.

RELIEF PITCHER- One of the top relievers in the game last year, Joakim Soria is still relatively unknown outside of Kansas City. He’s fresh off the DL and fling under the radar. Grab him. Kevin Gregg lost the closer’s job twice while he was with the Marlins and hasn’t exactly lit things on ire for the Cubs. Don’t get caught with him on your roster when the meltdown comes.

Sick Bay- Geovany Soto could miss up to a month with a strained oblique… Jonathan Broxton pulled out of the All Star game because of an injured toe and could be out through the weekend… Matt Cain, another no show in St. Louis because of a bruised forearm, should be able to make his first start after the break… Royals’ starter Gil Meche has been bothered by back problems all year and was removed from his last start in the 4th inning… Kevin Slowey may not be ready to return from a sprained wrist when he’s eligible to come off the DL… If Justin Duchscherrer does return to the A’s this season, it’ll be as a reliever.

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