Matt Stroup

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Pass the Mike

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mat Gamel, 3B, MIL (Yahoo: 9 percent owned; ESPN: 3 percent)

He's missing a "t" in his name and isn't guaranteed anything beyond some Interleague at-bats in an upcoming weekend series against Minnesota, but given that Bill Hall has hit just .190 against righties (as opposed to .382 against lefties), crazier things have happened than Gamel working his way into a job as the left-handed half of a Milwaukee third base platoon.

Granted, platoon at-bats aren't enough to warrant consideration in a lot of mixed leagues, and I certainly wouldn't go dropping anyone productive for Gamel. However, owners in deeper leagues should at the very least keep a close watch to see if Gamel ends up sticking with the big league club. The 23-year-old was hitting .336 with eight homers and 31 RBI at Triple-A and has started out 2-for-6 with a homer and five RBI as a Brewer.

Manny Parra, SP, MIL (Yahoo: 29 percent owned; ESPN: 25 percent)

Welcome to the Wisconsin section of this week's column. I don't trust Parra much further than I can throw a discus (and my discus technique admittedly needs work), but there's no ignoring what he's done in his last four starts: a 3-0 record with a 3.00 ERA and 24 K's in 24 innings. Granted, he has also posted a 1.50 WHIP during that same span thanks in large part to 14 walks, and his 39/26 K/BB ratio for the season largely explains the discus-related trust issues I mentioned above.

All told, I'd advise treading carefully with Parra, but if you need K's and can absorb a little bit of a hit in WHIP, there's no doubt that there's some potential here.

Akinori Iwamura, 2B, TB (Yahoo: 24 percent owned; ESPN: 19 percent)

I wish I had a brilliant suggestion for a second base replacement for Rickie Weeks owners, but with Ian Stewart (Yahoo: 29 percent owned; ESPN: 9 percent) pulling a Mike Fontenot and going 2-for-20 since I touted him last week, Iwamura is looking like one of the best widely available options. He obviously can't replace Weeks' power (Iwamura has zero homers on the season after hitting just six in 627 at-bats last season), but he has already matched his stolen base total of eight from 2008, and SB opportunities should continue to be plentiful with the Rays running like raving lunatics thus far.

Cody Ross, OF, FLA (Yahoo: 7 percent owned; ESPN: 8 percent)

I'd only take a look in a deep mixed league at this point, but it's worth noting that Ross has gone 10-for-20 in his last six games with six doubles, two homers and nine RBI to raise his season OPS from 581 to 747 in just over a week. Hot streaks happen for everyone, but for Ross, a hot streak can be particularly scalding – last season, he hit 10 of his 22 homers in May.


Rich Hill, SP, BAL (Yahoo: 7 percent owned; ESPN: 2 percent)

Hill had a solid Baltimore debut on Saturday, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing seven hits, two walks and two earned runs with six K's in a win over Kansas City. Fantasy owners certainly shouldn't expect a return to 2007 (when Hill went 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 183/63 K/BB ratio in 195 innings), but he could still be a useful asset just two years removed from that career season.

Adam Kennedy, 2B, OAK (Yahoo: 1 percent owned; ESPN: 0 percent)

I'm nowhere close to convinced that he'll keep hitting, but Kennedy has gotten off to a strong start in Oakland with a .371 BA and .421 OBP with a homer and a steal in 35 at-bats, and with Mark Ellis out until late June or early July with a calf injury, he's likely to continue getting plenty of at-bats.


J.A. Happ, RP, PHI (Yahoo: 3 percent owned; ESPN: 1 percent)

With Chan Ho Park getting fricasseed to the tune of a 7.08 ERA and 1.69 WHIP this season, Happ is getting his chance to join the Philadelphia rotation. The 26-year-old lefty has a 2.49 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 17/9 K/BB ratio in 21 2/3 innings as a reliever in 2009 and had 151 K's in 135 innings at Triple-A last season, so he's certainly worth adding in NL-only leagues. However, I will not be throwing him into the lineup at Yankee Stadium on Saturday and I'd advise similar caution on your end.

Kris Medlen, SP, ATL (Yahoo: 1 percent owned; ESPN: 1 percent)

After wasting too many starts on Jo-Jo Reyes (who leaves the rotation with a 6.58 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 26 innings), the Braves have finally made the long overdue move to summon Medlen to join the rotation from Triple-A. He's no Tommy Hanson, but with a 5-0 record, 1.19 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 44/10 K/BB ration in 37 2/3 minor league innings this season, Medlen has been every bit as impressive as the Braves' top prospect in 2009.

Though he may get bumped from the rotation by the presumed return of Tom Glavine, Medlen is going to get a shot for now, and he certainly has enough upside to warrant a look in NL leagues.

Craig Counsell, 2B/3B/SS, MIL (Yahoo: 2 percent owned; ESPN: 2 percent)

With Rickie Weeks done for the year, Counsell is in line to get a shot at significant playing time at second base in Milwaukee. Though he's something of a sickly turtle from a fantasy perspective (he had a total of just four homers and seven steals in 530 at-bats the past two seasons), Counsell is hitting .324 with a .413 on-base percentage and can be a useful source of runs scored in NL leagues – he has 14 in his first 68 at-bats in 2009.

Matt Stroup covers basketball, baseball and football for You can find him on Twitter here .
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