Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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Choo On Wrong Side of Tracks

Monday, June 27, 2011

Adding insult to injury, Shin-Soo Choo broke his thumb. His fractured left thumb (and subsequent surgery) will keep him out at least six weeks, which is too bad. Just another thing not going right for Choo - he might be a good bounce-back pickup next year at this point. Travis Buck is up to play a little, in case the deep-leaguers are wondering.

But the doctor also had bad news for others. Alex Rodriguez won't miss time like Choo, but he admitted that he is playing through a sore right knee right now. Add that to his shoulder issue and you realize what it's like to get older. He'll end up with fine numbers, but he'll also miss time with aches and pains. We only know about the drama, but Jose Tabata was carted off the field after a quad injury Sunday. It looked bad enough to assume that he'll miss a good amount of time. The newly recalled Alex Presley might split time with Matt Diaz and Garrett Jones to make up for Tabata's lost time. Rafael Furcal won't move to second base, his coach says. He's also still out until early July, so Dee Gordon is deep-league relevant for now. Delmon Young is on the DL dealing with a sprained right ankle that had him carted off the field. Bad year getting worse.

Not all news from the doctor was bad news. David Wright was cleared for baseball activities recently, and over the weekend his GM and manager admitted he might be back as soon as the first game after the All-Star break. Denard Span has been concussion-free for two straight days of workouts and should be back soon. Good thing Jason Kubel is not quite bak from his foot injury, or Ben Revere's run would be over any day. Oh - Kubel should hit a rehab assignment this week most likely. Time to root for a trade if you own Revere. Brian Roberts made it through his first concussion-symptom-free day of workouts, which was a nice step forward. Martin Prado is making significant progress back from his staph infection and his team hopes he'll return before the All-Star break. Matt LaPorta will join his team this weekend and might even be activated then. Somebody is happy about that.

* Pitchers did not escape the doctor's wrath either. He's been talking about retiring, but let's just wait for the doctors to work on him. Roy Oswalt is at least out until August while he deals with the back. Still, the team would welcome him back at that point, so don't drop him. John Danks had been doing better recently (against weaker offenses), but now he's got a strained oblique and will hit the DL for the first time in his career. More news coming. Another lefty, Jonathan Sanchez is on the DL with left biceps tendinitis. He might be taking a team-sanctioned break to try and corral the walks. Aaron Harang's foot is going to keep him out until after the All-Star break. He'll return and be useful in about half of his starts. Jon Niese struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings while keeping the Rangers to two runs, continuing his run of surprising performances. He also left the start early for a rapid heartbeat issue. Most of the team expects it to be a non-issue.

* Some of the weekend's pitching gave hints about future performance, perhaps. Madison Bumgarner had the velocity and the swinging strikes but not the results. Sunday he fanned a career-high 11 batters in seven one-run innings over the Indians. He's worth owning in all leagues going forward. Chris Narveson is a borderline guy, but he struck out seven twins and gave up only two runs in 6 2/3 innings. He can strike guys out and has enough upside to be a great spot-start away from home, where his average ground-ball rate won't be as much of a factor. Cory Luebke doesn't have great minor league stats, but as a reliever he's shown that he can hang with big leaguers so far this season. He made his first start of the season against the Braves and kept the mediocre offense scoreless, striking out six. Luebke is a fringe starter in deep leagues until he proves he can keep the ball on the ground regularly and that some of the strikeout gains he's made are for real, but he's already worth a spot start in most leagues. Kyle McClellan was a mediocre reliever, and now, after allowing five runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays, maybe more will see how he's really a mediocre starter at best. Brad Penny gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings - against the Diamondbacks. He'll continue to be a decent spot-start. Alexi Ogando gave up three earned (six total) in three innings Saturday. It was the Mets and he's already hit a career-high in innings. Watch out.

Once in a while I get a question about why I didn't include an excellent start from a top-line pitcher over the weekend. For example, Clayton Kershaw and Jered Weaver teaming up for an excellent duel on Sunday. Kershaw pitched a shutout for the win with 11 strikeouts, and Weaver struck out four, walked one, and gave up one run in seven innings. Or Justin Verlander striking out 14 against one walk in eight shutout innings Saturday. Or Roy Halladay throwing a complete game against the A's. Or Ricky Romero throwing his second career shutout against the decimated Cards offense. Or even Trevor Cahill going seven-plus and giving up one run against the Phillies. But you know what? It's a little too much like 'excellent pitcher was excellent.' There's not a ton of fantasy knowledge to be gained from that sort of performance.

* And then, of course, were the fool's gold pitching performances of the weekend. Some looked good but weren't really good. Philip Humber has been doing 'pretty good.' He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and all was awesome. Then Danny Espinosa hit a two-run home run and he lost the game. He only struck out four and walked three, though, and that's another good reason to be suspicious. Dillon Gee got his eight win by holding the Rangers to three runs in six innings, but he only struck out one and gave up ten baserunners. Overall, he doesn't have enough strikeout stuff, is only marginally more likely to induce ground balls than your average starter, and has been getting lucky on batted balls. He's due for some regression. You might like the fact that J.A. Happ struck out eight Rays, even if he gave up five runs in five innings. Well, move on. He's got a mediocre strikeout rate, a bad walk rate, and is an extreme fly-ball pitcher in a home-run happy park. Yuck. Livan Hernandez struck out nine White Sox in 6 2/3 innings! He's still mediocre in all of his rates and is only ownable if league-average is useful. Andrew Miller struck out four, walked two, and held the Pirates to one earned in six innings. It was the Pirates, though, and his run of success has been short. Remain cynical.

Some looked bad but weren't bad. Derek Holland gave up seven runs and didn't strike out a batter against the Mets. Then again, only three were earned. He's still a four-pitch lefty with a legit fastball, so don't give up on him in deeper keeper leagues. Redrafts might be able to move on. Homer Bailey returned from the DL and gave up five runs in five innings, but struck out five (against two walks) and still has decent upside.

But some were bad and are bad. Ivan Nova gave up four runs in six innings to the Rockies, but it's not bad luck. He's deserved every bit of his mediocre ratios. His opponent, Juan Nicasio, also allowed four runs (in five innings), but he only walked one and has excellent control. If he can strike out a few more going forward (only two Sunday), he can overcome his poor ground-ball rate.

* How about some work with the wood? Joey Votto hit two home runs Saturday. Where you sleeping on him? Jimmy Rollins went four for four Sunday and is a top-twelve shortstop in any setting. Dan Uggla had two home runs since Friday. And two hitless days. Sounds about right. Jason Heyward doubled twice Saturday and is doing pretty good since his return from the DL. B.J. Upton homered three times in three days over the weekend and looks like he can be the modern Mike Cameron in many ways. Teammate Evan Longoria had been slumping, but he got rid of his batting gloves for the first time since his rookie year and racked up eight hits (three home runs) over the weekend. If you can buy low, it's still worth it even if the price went up a little. Eric Hosmer is an excellent prospect for the future. This year, he'll have his ups and downs. After a bad couple of weeks, he collected a couple of hits Sunday and will end up being a great bench play in mixed leagues, most likely. Geovany Soto is being dropped here and there, but his three-for-three with a home run Sunday should remind you why he will still end up being a top-twelve catcher over the rest of the year.

More marginal position players came through as well. Tsuyoshi Nishioka collected two hits Sunday and might just BABIP his way into a decent batting average and enough steals to be useful in many leagues. Jeff Keppinger has no power, but can put up a good batting average at multiple positions and has been getting playing time. He hit a home run Sunday. Ty Wigginton has power but won't ever put up a good batting average. How about going three-for-four with two solo home runs against the Yankees to solidify his playing time at third base, though? Conor Jackson had three hits Sunday and is playing every day, right? In the right league, that means something.

* You can't go through a weekend without checking in on the bullpens. Joakim Soria saved two games over the weekend, and struck out four in two innings. Yeah he's back. Jordan Walden blew his fifth save of the season and it was at least partially due to his iffy control. That's something he'll deal with his whole career, but he's been good enough that he's earned himself the leash to get through this. Mark Melancon hit his first speed bump as a closer, as he gave up five runs while getting four outs. It wasn't a great day but there's not much else in that pen. He should get a few more chances to blow games before he's out. Jonathan Broxton was supposed to be the next closer in Los Angeles after being the last closer there, but he was scratched from a rehab appearance in Triple-A and his status is up in the air right now. Javy Guerra for the short-term, it seems. Ryan Madson will attempt to throw Monday or Tuesday! Huzzah!

National League Quick Hits: Hanley Ramirez might be in the leadoff spot to stay, says his new manager … Tommy Hanson (shoulder) has been cleared to start Tuesday … Chase Headley (shoulder) returned to the lineup after missing two games … Jay Bruce just missed Sunday with some sort of flu-like illness … You have to have noticed that Miguel Montero (three hits Sunday) is worth owning in all leagues, I hope … Mike Fontenot (groin) begins his rehab Monday and might be interesting if his team continues to give him time at shortstop … Brandon Belt (hand) will take batting practice Monday … James McDonald didn't give up an earned run, and struck out five in six innings against the Red Sox; He might still blow up against the Nationals next time out, what do we know … Chris Volstad held the Mariners to two runs in 6 2/3 innings and has been using his ground-balling ways to be a spot-start for al title bit now … He's been out for a while, but Pedro Alvarez (quad) had another setback and is not going to be back before the All-Star break … Lucas Duda had four hits (three doubles) Saturday and might get some NL-only type of time while Ike Davis is out … Joe Saunders allowed one run in seven innings giants the Tigers, but if you're reading here you know he's not very useful in most leagues … The Giants are looking to acquire Yorvit Torrealba but need some help on next year's contract before they pull the trigger … The Brewers are once again considering calling up all-bat no-glove Mat Gamel for some interleague games … Marcus Thames (calf) will avoid the disabled list … Tony Gwynn Jr. won the game against the Angels with a walk-off single but doesn't have enough power or defense and consequently doesn't play enough to matter in most leagues … Kerry Wood (blister) is not close to returning.

American League Quick Hits: Jake Peavy struck out seven in four scoreless and won his first career relief appearance; He makes for a good waiver pickup, but not a trade acquisition because of his injury risk … Jeff Niemann only lasted three innings against the Astros and was only a marginal pitcher before he strained his shoulder since (and barely even a spot-starter since) … Justin Masterson gave up one unearned run and did what was expected of him against the Giants … On the other hand, Fausto Carmona had his rotation spot on the line and gave up three runs in six innings to the Giants; Meh, as usual … There's no way to decide when he'll be unlucky or lucky - Jeremy Guthrie had a mediocre start (four walks, six hits, four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings) and won this time … It wasn't the greatest start - five runs on five strikeouts in six innings - but Carl Pavano only walked one and and got more ground balls then fly balls … Phil Hughes (arm) hit 94 on the gun Friday but will need a few more starts … He's still going to avoid the DL, and Torii Hunter played catch, ran and took some dry swings Sunday so he's close to a return … Juan Pierre collected two hits Sunday and might just ugly his way into a useful season … Juan Rivera hit a three-run home run Saturday and is doing pretty much the same thing on the power side … He won't have a good batting average, but J.P. Arencibia homered in the Jays win Sunday and will continue to show good power … Carlos Guillen (knee) is going to begin a rehab assignment shortly … In related news, Rich Harden (shoulder) should be activated in the next week-plus, role TBD … Luke Hochevar allowed three runs and ten baserunners in 5 2/3 innings against the Cubs and is always a risky play in any format … Brian Matusz will remain in the rotation because his team needs to see what they've got, even if Saturday (six earned in four-plus against the Reds) wasn't good … Carlos Peguero got two hits Saturday against the Marlins, but his K/BB ratio suggests that he's not a good play in any league.

Eno Sarris is an editor and writer at FanGraphs.com. You can find his work gathered in one place at and enosarris.com. Follow his misadventures in writing on Twitter as well.
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