Glenn Colton

Week That Was

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Harden(ed) By The Bay

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Rich Harden shows his stuff in Oakland and that's the lead story in the Week That Was.

Rich Harden: Rich Harden returned to the Oakland rotation and showed a flash of the superstar stuff we know he has. Harden pitched six innings of two-run ball, mowing down 6 in the win. Last year's atrocious season makes people forget that Harden has not reached his 30th birthday, pitched well in his first stint in Oakland and in the 08-09 seasons struck out 352 in 289 innings. The reality is simple. If Harden can stay healthy he could lead a fantasy team to victory. Of course, staying healthy has been the problem.
Those in dire need of K's should bid big. When he pitches, Harden his fun to own.

Hiroki Kuroda: Hiroki Kuroda looked strong in the battle of LA last night, tossing seven scoreless innings and allowing only three hits. Kuroda continues to be one of the most consistent and consistently undervalued pitchers in baseball -- real and fantasy. This year, he has gone through the first three months with an ERA under 3. Over the last three years before this, he posted a composite 3.59 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP. One thing you must consider however is that Kuroda is on a bad team and T in SMART stands for team. That means that he could end up being moved this month. It could be good news as he could end up with an offense that supports him. However, he could move out of the NL West with LA, SD and SF being great pitcher's parks to someplace like, gasp, the AL East. The fantasy bottom line -- Kuroda is solid but the trade rumors inject a serious element of uncertainty.

Mark Ellis: Mark Ellis paid immediate dividends for the Rockies last night, going 3-5 with a double, home run and three RBI. You have to think that Ellis's value has gone way up leaving the hitter wasteland in Oakland and landing in the launching pad that is Coors. Just remember, Ellis is always hurt, so temper your expectations. Only once since 2003 has Ellis registered 500 AB or more. Tough call here but if it was up to me, I would deal Ellis now. Brag about how he is now in Coors and point to his day one outing and sell high. My two cents. Sorry Mark.

Madison Bumgarner: Madison Bumgarner looked strong again last night, allowing just one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings while striking out 9. Thus far, Bumgarner has posted a 3.65 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 86/26 K/BB ratio. The WHIP is not great but the ERA and K/BB are solid. Advice -- now is the time to get Madison. He is top flight all the way. He pitches in a great park, gets to face the Dodgers and Padres often and has numbers that while strong, are depressed by one disastrous start. Buy while you still can.

J.J. Putz: In what should surprise only those that live under fantasy rocks, J.J. Putz has landed on the DL. He is 34 and has not pitched as a closer for a full season since 2007. Look for Putz to be out a while. In the beginning, David Hernandez is likely to be given the ball in the ninth. However, 22 BB in 37 innings is hardly the stuff of successful closers. To give you a sense of how far off that number is, think about the fact that Mariano Rivera walked that many in all of 2009 and 2010 put together. Ok great, so you are thinking tell us who to grab. Answer: Juan Guttierez. He is hardly a sure thing but he has had success as a closer in the past. Speculate.

Sean Burroughs: Sticking with the Diamondbacks, they called up Sean Burroughs from Triple-A. Don't be fooled. Yes, the Dbacks cut Melvin Mora. However, at 30, Burroughs is a long shot to get serious PT in AZ. Ryan Roberts is the 3B and Willie Bloomquist is also around. Yes, my buddy and LABR/Tout/FSTA partner Rick Wolf has a soft spot for Burroughs. But, he knows it is just that, a soft spot. Burroughs has been absent from the big leagues for 6 years for a reason. Pass.

Adrian Gonzalez: According to reports, Adrian Gonzalez could make another start in right field Saturday. Crazy. Ok, I admit it, this isn't much of a fantasy sports entry but rather a rant. After Tito Francona lost Jacoby Ellsbury for the year last year when he was playing out of position and ran into Adrian Beltre, why would he take the same risk with Gonzalez. Yes, Big Papi is having a great year, but this is just too big of a risk. If you own Adrian, close your eyes and hope all ends up ok.

Aramis Ramirez: Aramis Ramirez is hot. Just plain hot. AmRam went 2-3 with a tater yesterday afternoon -- his 6th in his last 8 games. If you have the chance, go grab the cubs 3B. Yes, he gets nicked a lot, but rarely misses huge chunks of time. Last year, Ramirez hit 25 HR in under 500 AB, with most of them coming in the second half. He is the real deal at a fairly weak 3B position. Go git 'em. (Note, he has a no trade clause he insists he will not waive. Thus, he should be hitting in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field all year.)

Antonio Bastardo: Antonio Bastardo notched his 4th save protecting a one run lead against the Jays. With Ryan Madson in the DL (along with Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras), Bastardo is a good bet to get more saves. However, he is left-handed and no sure thing. Bastardo is a worthy pickup but I would speculate on Michael Stutes as well. He should get at least a couple of saves (and a vulture win or two) before the Phils big guns return or they make a deal for a more established bullpen arm.

Rick Ankiel: In news that really should not matter unless your team is just bad, the Nationals activated Rick Ankiel from the DL. Move along. There is nothing to see hear. Not only was Ankiel hitting a paltry .204, he has been that bad the last two years as well (.231 and .232). Add in the fact that the Nats cannot hit and will be out of the race soon (if not already) and you have just no reason to read more about Ankiel. Don't be fooled.

And last but not least, Schultz Says: "Followers of the AL Central have long known that the Minnesota Twins are a notoriously tough team to put out of their misery. For the last few seasons, the Rasputins of the Midwest refuse to go gently into that good night, customarily persevering to take the Central title before retreating into their shell like a scared turtle once they find themselves in the Bronx. As I've said here before in this little part of TWTW column, knowing your history is quite beneficial to your potential roto-success. With the arrival of July and the Dustin Ackleys and Lonnie Chisenhalls of the year having already been called up, you are either banking on Shelby Miller or Desmond Jennings to save your season or need to engage in some shrewd prognostication. Since the latter is the cheapest in the roto-sense of the word, it is time to turn your attention to Target Field.

The first half of the 2010 season was nothing short of a medical disaster for the Twins. Even then, they still aren't completely out of the woods as Justin Morneau just underwent surgery to address a herniated disc in his neck. However, the Twins seem to have righted this ship and its time for cautious optimism to affect your roto-decisions. Most prominently, the return of Joe Mauer, a two time batting champion and 2009 AL MVP, has revived Minnesota's lineup. While the malady that sidelined him for the first half of the season still seems a bit cryptic, he is healthy now. After spending his first few games getting his timing back, the Mauer of old seems to have returned. It's too early to tell whether the power stroke that eluded him last year will return but you can do worse than to play a catcher who has the potential to hit .350 and drive in scores of runs. If there was ever a chance to get him on your roster, it is now, while his current owner is frustrated and willing to shift the risk onto someone else.

On the DL with a broken leg before we could all figure out how to properly spell his name, Tsuyoshi Nishioka has also made his return felt. A speedster in Japan, the Twins haven't given him the green light to run with abandon just yet. However, he is starting to develop the stroke that earned him the Nippon Professional Baseball hitting title last season. Ignore his current .206 batting average, there is a ton of untapped potential to be found here. Given the general level of competence in most roto-leagues, there's a very good chance Nishioka is slipping under everyone's radar. Pounce if you can.

You might also be wise to stash Joe Nathan away somewhere and see what happens over the next few weeks. The Twins have implicitly conceded that they brought Nathan back from Tommy John surgery too soon by shelving him for most of May and June. Since his return, he's been the Joe Nathan of old. With Matt Capps failing to inspire unqualified confidence as a closer, Nathan could be restored to his once and future role quite soon.

Happy 4th of July!"

Response: Great stuff this week. Yeah, I know, it is more fun to make fun of Schultz, but it is not warranted this week. Plus, it is the 4th of July weekend and I am in a good mood. This is by far my favorite holiday and one that should be enjoyed and revered by all Americans. 235 years ago some very, very smart people set a course for freedom and prosperity we all enjoy. Yes there are issues in America, yes there are and will be hard times. However, all we have can be attributed to those brave patriots who took a stand on that July 4th so long ago. Enjoy the holiday and all things uniquely American, including of course, the national pastime.

Glenn Colton is co-host of Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM Tuesdays 8-11pm ET and a long-time fantasy sports player, author of numerous print and electronic media fantasy sports articles, and a participant in expert leagues, including baseball's LABR league and football's FTSA experts league. Colton and Rick Wolf have won the AL LABR Championship three times and football's FTSA experts league four times. Colton joined Wolf in the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Hall of Fame in June of 2013. He can be found on Twitter .

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