Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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Yankee Trio Set For Break

Monday, July 11, 2011


The Yankees had a weekend for the ages. First, Derek Jeter did a thing. You may have heard about it. More significant for fantasy players was the fact that number three thousand was a home run. Jeter is showing the worst power of his career and is clearly in a decline. He may not get to double digits in home runs this year. Still, the state of the shortstop position means that a .280 batting average with near-double-digit power and closer to twenty steals is playable in most leagues.

Teammate Alex Rodriguez is also in decline and is also showing the worst power of his career. As he gets older, the type of news he got this weekend will become more familiar. A slightly torn meniscus means that he will have surgery Monday and miss four to six weeks. Though he still plays well at a tough position, once he gets healthy again, he'll make for a strong sell in keeper leagues this off-season. Eduardo Nunez will take over for him, but he offers little for fantasy owners. Kevin Youkilis, who had six hits over the weekend (one a home run), will replace him in the All-Star week.

Not all of the Yankee news was tinged with negativity. C.C. Sabathia struck out nine and outdueled James Shields (who pitched a complete game and is having his best season aided by a tiny bit of luck) for the complete game shut-out win Sunday. There's absolutely no sign of worry with the rotund pitcher, other than perhaps all the innings over his career. On the other hand, those innings speak to his ability to continue putting up innings, too. Strangely, Sabathia was named as Shields' replacement for the All-Star game because the Yankees' lefty started Sunday. Uh, yeah, so Alexi Ogando was named as Shields' replacement shortly after. With Ogando hitting an innings limit soon, he might not see much time in the game.

* The temptation to use the three-day All-Star break to get healthy is very strong. While the fans may enjoy the game, and it may 'count,' there isn't another league-wide break like this until the playoffs. So don't get too upset at David Price for pulling out of the game for a turf toe injury. His Rays team will need him before long, and David Robertson has been an excellent and deserves credit. David Wright won't be an All-Star but he'll be begin a rehab assignment right after the break.

Some of the back and forth is silly. Felix Hernandez can't play in the All-Star game because he started Sunday (when he allowed only two runs in seven innings against the Angels). So Jon Lester replaced him and then went on the DL for a strained lat. Now Ricky Romero is a replacement. His excellent ground ball rate and ever-improving control make him an excellent pitcher. A little batted ball luck has aided his numbers so far, but he's still an every-starter going forward. Matt Cain was supposed to be an All-Star, and threw six scoreless for a victory against the Mets, won't be one because he pitched Sunday. And his team might have planned it that way. Craig Kimbrel, who is awesome, replaces him. Cole Hamels held the Braves to one run in eight innings on Sunday, with six strikeouts, and is always excellent. Since he started Sunday, Kevin Correia will take his place. Yeah.

Even on the position player side, it can get silly. Ryan Braun will be back from his calf injury… on Thursday. That's good news. Carl Crawford didn't kneed the break, but he should be back within the week. Chipper Jones was an All-Star but needed knee surgery for a torn meniscus. He'll be out two-to-three the team says. Placido Polanco has been the 'healthy' option at third base all year, and now he's been replaced in the All-Star game. By Scott Rolen. The healthiest dude ever. He's not an All-Star, but Ike Davis ran, and he ran on flat ground without help. That's really good news. Or maybe it was Miguel Montero who officially replaced him. Montero is a fine mixed-league catcher but this is still a little silly. Or maybe it was Pablo Sandoval (one hit and an RBI Sunday night) who replaced Polanco. At least Andrew McCutchen is finally an All-Star. Obviously, he deserved it.

* How about some anti-All-Stars? Zach Duke allowed four runs in six innings against the Cardinals Sunday and that counts as okay work from him. He shouldn't be in any fantasy rotations. Ramon Ortiz gave up six runs in four innings against the Pirates and is also un-ownable. Jake Peavy gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings and has an ERA over five. Still, his K/BB ratio (42/13) is good, and he is at least a decent spot start. Delmon Young is back from the DL, but even at his best he's an empty average with no power or speed. Don't bother buying low. Ian Stewart has been nobody's All-Star, but he had his first multi-hit game of the season Sunday. He could still be a high-power low-average option in deeper leagues going forward.

* And in the middle we have the useful dudes that aren't All-Stars and aren't anti-All-Stars. Your David Freese types. Freese himself hit his first home run in two weeks since returning from the DL, but power is not his game, just that decent batting average. Ryan Roberts may not have a consistently excellent batting average like Freese, but he hit a home run Sunday too and he works on the infield in most leagues. Darwin Barney had two hits Sunday for his fourth-straight multi-hit game, but he's an empty batting average that could be over-valued by some in the fantasy game. Gordon Beckham had a couple hit Sunday and might be a second-half guy as his career numbers suggest. Still, his upside is limited and if it doesn't work out, you'll have paid too much. Derrek Lee hit a two-run home run on Sunday, and his third in five games means that he's playable in deep leagues again. Denard Span doesn't quite do anything at an elite level, but his concussion is clearing and he hopes to play in late July. His manager says he'd like to keep the useful speedster Ben Revere around after he returns anyway. Alex Gordon hit a three-run home run Saturday and looks like he can be useful in any league, especially as a third baseman.

Jordan Zimmermann isn't thought of as an ace, but he kept the Rockies scoreless in 6 1/3 innings while striking out six against one walk. Even if he only gets another 50 innings, he'll be worth owning in all leagues. Trevor Cahill improved his strikeout rate, but he's still not quite an ace. He only allowed two runs to the Rangers, but he also only struck out three. Randy Wolf isn't perfect, but he's a great spot-starter. He gave up two earned in seven innings against the Reds, so that was useful even if he only struck out two. Kevin Slowey used to be the K/BB ratio king. Now all of his injuries have kept him off most fantasy league rosters for now. He will make two more rehab stars for Triple-A, and if he's traded thereafter, he'll be interesting once again. Especially if he needs up in the National League.

* Luck and circumstances can turn a useful player into one that looks like an All-Star. Paul Maholm allowed only one run and struck out eight 'bored' Cubs against zero walks. That fit with his overall numbers on the year, but much of that work has been propped up by great batted ball luck. He'll likely put up an ERA around four going forward. Ted Lilly is Ted Lilly, but at home, and against the Padres, he can strike out seven and hold his opponents to one run in five innings. Every day on the road is a little different. Tim Stauffer, his opponent who gave up two earned in six innings and only struck out one, is still a better play. Matt Harrison held the Athletics scoreless Sunday, and even struck out seven. He doesn't have a groundball, strikeout or walk rate that is better than average though. Be very careful. Eric Thames had three hits (one a home run) Sunday, but his luck on batted balls is propping up his batting average. Own him for power in deeper leagues, and that's it. Wandy Rodriguez strikes some guys out and has an average ground-ball rate. After allowing five runs in 5 1/3 innings Sunday, though, he's shown himself as an ownable but not exciting mixed-league starter. Aaron Harang threw six no-hit innings on Saturday, but his home park is a big part of his value.

* Bullpendoggery. Brian Wilson got the save, but he also gave up two doubles and didn't look perfect. His WHIP and walk rate are almost a problem. We told you in Saves and Steals that Francisco Cordero was a risk because he didn't strike people out. Now he's blown three straight and Aroldis Chapman is looking unhittable. The Cuban is ownable again, even if he's unavailable right now because of ankle injury suffered Saturday. J.J. Putz should be back immediately after the break. Brad Lidge will make a rehab appearance in Double-A on Monday and could be back right fate the break. The Phillies might even need him to be the closer, but Ryan Madson's rehab for his hand might be done right after the break as well. Andrew Bailey blew his second save of the year by giving up a walkoff to Josh Hamilton, but he's safe. Jon Rauch wasn't suspended. Jason Contreras is now visiting specialists and probably won't factor in again in that bullpen. Jason Isringhausen, on the other hand, has said that he prefers not to be traded. If he stays in New York, he could easily be the next closer for the Mets, who are shopping Francisco Rodriguez.

National League Quick Hits: Saturday, Albert Pujols hit his first home run since returning from the DL … Andre Ethier hit a couple of solo home runs for his first multi-homer game of the year … Carlos Gonzalez will get an MRI on his wrist Monday after the joint bothered him Friday during the game … Ubaldo Jimenez finally had a dominant start (one run in eight innings with eight strikeouts and one walk), but he still doesn't have the velocity he used to have … Jhoulys Chacin only allowed one run (four strikeouts, one walk in seven innings) and despite some good luck he's been truly excellent … Francisco Rodriguez switched to Scott Boras and is obviously preparing for negotiations with his next team sometime soon … Mike Cameron hit a home run in his third start for the Marlins … Johan Santana (shoulder) is close to throwing to batters but he also got the same surgery as Chien-Ming WangDan Uggla hit a home run over the weekend, and that's three in his last six games … Ryan Dempster held the Pirates to three runs in five innings and argued with his manager but should be fine going forward anyway … Zack Cozart was called up and has six hits in his first four games, so that's interesting if you are looking for shortstop help in deeper leagues … Neil Walker hasn't been great, but three hits continued an eight-game hitting streak … Rubby De La Rosa gave up one hit over six shutout innings and struck out eight; He's interesting in most leagues … Pedro Alvarez was activated from the DL and then optioned to Triple-A, so he's not very useful in most leagues right won, even if he can manage good power and a bad batting average later this year … Nate Schierholtz is an everyday starter these days, and he went four for four to push the Giants to a victory … It's unclear if Justin Turner ends up with the larger or smaller part of second base when David Wright and Ike Davis return, but he collected four hits Sunday … Esmil Rogers (lat) allowed three runs in 3 1/3 innings, but it was a step towards a return … Mat Gamel was optioned back to Triple-A, where he had a .957 OPS.

American League Quick Hits: Dan Haren, who allowed two runs with eight strikeouts and two walks and came within one out of a complete game, is awesome, full stop … Michael Pineda has been excellent but gave up seven runs in five innings; He still struck out seven … Raul Ibanez might be useful again, as he hit a home run and collected six RBI … Then again, Domonic Brown had three hits and two RBI and Jony Mayberry doubled three times and drove in four, so the entire outfield got happy … Vladimir Guerrero got hit on the hand and left the game, but the rest should fix it because his X-rays were negative (Mark Reynolds. who also got hit in the hand in the same game, is also fine) … Jeremy Guthrie came on to pitch decent relief (one run, ten outs) on three days rest but should be fine to start in deeper leagues going forward … Brian Roberts (concussion) played long toss and tools flips Saturday … John Danks allowed two runs in three innings but looked okay on rehab and should be back in about ten days … Jeff Francis only allowed two runs against the Tigers, and struck out six, but he's a risk most times out … Brett Cecil held the Indians to one run but he doesn't have one above-average fundamental skill … Lonnie Chisenhall was hit in the face by a pitch but should be back after the break … Mariners' third base prospect Kyle Seager finally got a hit Sunday, his first in twelve at-bats … The Athletics' Chris Carter went hitless for the weekend and could end up in the minors again soon … Jason Kipnis homered off of Julio Teherean to win the All-Star Futures Game and that might mean something for the Cleveland infield at some point … Conor Jackson (ribs and back) took Sunday off after colliding with Elvis Andrus, but misses games all the time … Desmond Jennings will miss two weeks with a fractured right index finger, which is a shame … Brett Lawrie (hand) took batting practice and might be useful on the infield soon … The Red Sox farm director thinks that Kevin Millwood will get a shot this year with the big club … Zach Britton is back in the minor leagues for now … Ramon Castro is on the 15-day DL with a fractured right hand and now Tyler Flowers is up to play occasionally in his place … Trevor Plouffe spent time in Triple-A playing all over the infield and is now back on the Twins to do the same thing.


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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