Eno Sarris

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Grady's (Other) Shady Knee

Monday, July 18, 2011



Grady Sizemore is headed back to Cleveland for tests on his right knee. It's not the knee he had microfracture surgery on, but it is the same knee that caused him to miss time earlier this season. If he's healthy -- and they're calling him day-to-day right now -- he should be able to cut his strikeout rate and improve his batting average some. Still, we know the .270 career hitter is not a batting average boon, his speed is gone, and his power is modest. He's a deep league play at this point, and borderline in mixed leagues unless you have five outfielders.

The weekend also gave us more health-related news surrounding big names in fantasy baseball. Jose Bautista sprained his ankle late last week and missed the weekend. He's targeting Tuesday though. Carlos Gonzalez came back from his wrist injury and even stole a base on Saturday. Phew. David Wright had two hits in his third rehab game and should be activated on Friday. Jose Reyes felt fine after running the bases and is likely to be back Tuesday, a big boon to the Mets lineup. Finally. Carl Crawford was cleared to return today and as long as he's healthy it's all systems go. There was a chance that Ryan Braun would be headed the other way because of his calf, but then he pinch-hit Sunday. His manager already said he'd be back in the lineup Monday but then took it back. Sigh. Jon Lester has a timetable and that timetable says he'll be back in the rotation Tuesday, July 26th. Scott Baker was put on the DL with a mild flexor muscle strain in his pitching elbow. They're waiting for him to give the go-ahead to return. Vladimir Guerrero hit the 15-day DL with that small fracture in his hand. He might make for a mid-August trade when he's healthy. Carlos Guillen came back from the 60-day DL. He even managed 38 at-bats on his rehab stint.

* Trade rumors are important. Heath Bell or Mike Adams are likely to join the Rangers bullpen. One would definitely pitch in front of Neftali Feliz, one might not. Of course, the Padres probably prefer to package Bell, whose contract expires at the end of this year. You might have heard. The Rangers are also reportedly looking at Tyler Clippard and Andrew Bailey, so keep Brian Fuentes on your fingertips. The Ranger are also looking at Jeremy Guthrie, which would be a bad move for an already shaky starter in most formats. Acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez would cost the Yankees Jesus Montero, Ivan Nova, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, or so the rumor goes. That seems like a lot, even if the Rockies include Ty Wigginton. Not likely. The there's Ryan Ludwick, who will surely move. The Red Sox are interested and that would be a nice fit for him. The Phillies might be in on Melky Cabrera, which doesn't figure to end well. The Pirates like Josh Willingham, which makes sense in a good way. John Mozeliak wants you to know that he's not trading Colby Rasmus for the ninth time. Edwin Jackson is enjoying some attention, perhaps especially after his complete game shutout Saturday, and if the Cardinals pick him up he's immediately more interesting. J.J. Hardy signed a three-year contract extension at about $8 million a year and won't be traded any time soon. The Marlins say they aren't trading Anibal Sanchez or Ricky Nolasco. Notice they didn't say Leo Nunez. The Rockies are getting scouted but maybe only for Ryan Spilborghs and Rafael Betancourt, which is not super interesting.

* Not every start tells us a ton about the starter, but some starts reaffirmed our beliefs over the weekend. Matt Cain held the Padres to one run in six innings, which might have been predictable, but the nine strikeouts were a little surprise. His swinging strike rate is up this year, supporting his improvement in that category. Dueling him was Mat Latos, who gave up three in seven with five strikeouts. He's succeeding despite a slight reduction in velocity. Zack Greinke gave up three unearned runs, struck out eight and walked two in six innings Saturday. He's going to rattle off a nice stretch of games really soon. Chris Carpenter threw eight innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts. He's an every-starter everywhere. Cory Luebke held the Giants to two runs in seven innings, but it was the Giants, and his velocity is down a mile or two per hour since he's moved to the rotation. That's how it goes. He can be useful, but he won't be as good as he was in the pen. Kevin Correia gave up three runs in six innings with four strikeouts and one walk. He'll do that, a lot, but he's ownable in anything deeper than a ten-teamer. Wandy Rodriguez gave up four earned to the Pirates Sunday, but he struck out 11. That's good news because his swinging strike rate has been down this year. He's rosterable in most formats, but isn't looking like a frontline starter in any format going forward. Jair Jurrjens was due for some regression, and he got it Sunday.

Deep league version! Sort of. Phil Hughes has much of his old velocity back and looked good against the Blue Jays, striking out five and walking two while giving up two runs in six innings. He's somewhere between a deep leaguer, and a shallow-league spot-start. If this new walk rate holds -- and he walked three in 7 1/3 innings Sunday -- Homer Bailey will be a pitcher to pick up in most formats. He held the Cardinals to one run and struck out four to best Jaime Garcia's team if not the pitcher himself (one run, six strikeouts, no walks in seven innings). He allowed six runs on ten baserunners in five innings against the Nationals. It may not seem very exciting, but Felipe Paulino can keep doing this. He allowed four runs against the Royals, but he's ownable because he also struck out eight and walked only one in those seven innings. Brad Penny is harder to own because though he gets ground balls, those don't show up in fantasy box scores directly. And he's completely lost the strikeout stuff. He allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings to lower his ERA.

Some starts are mirages. Well, Philip Humber's earlier starts were a mirage, and his starts lately more likely to represent his true talent going forward. He gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings Sunday against the Tigers, and though he struck out eight, he doesn't have that kind of stuff. He's best used as a spot-starter in most formats. Kyle Kendrick beat Mike Pelfrey and held the Mets to one run in seven innings, but neither pitcher is really fantasy-worthy. Kendrick walked three and struck out none. Pelfrey struck out two and walked one, but got eleven ground balls to six fly balls. Eh, he's still not consistent enough to be fantasy relevant. Gio Gonzalez should be owned in all leagues by now, and has great strikeout ability paired with inconsistent control, but when he held the Angels scoreless in seven innings with eight strikeouts and only two walks, he did it against the Angels. That offense is worse than it looks right now. Matt Harrison struck out four in 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Mariners, but it was also the Mariners. He just doesn't do enough of anything to get excited about.

* Plus, let's ponder about pens! Carlos Marmol has been temporarily removed from his closer role, and replaced by Sean Marshall for now. Though Marshall is a good pitcher, Marmol is Marmolian. Don't drop him yet. He's working on some mechanical issues right now. We've been banging the drum for Joe Nathan to get his job back, and he did this weekend. Matt Capps is droppable. Now, let's move on to the only other name we've been promoting for as long: Koji Uehara. Kevin Gregg has a four-game suspension looming and just blew a save Sunday night. Sure, Mike Gonzalez got the save but that was only because Uehara had thrown another perfect inning in setup that same night. If it takes all season to happen, does it even count as happening in fantasy baseball? John Axford has gotten two straight saves with Francisco Rodriguez setting up both of them. That bullpen hierarchy is set for now. Brian Wilson got the save on Sunday… after walking the bases loaded. His walk rate could become a problem this year. Ryan Madson came back from the DL, did fine in his first outing and struggled in his second. He was replaced by Antonio Bastardo, who also gave up a run. Brad Lidge wants to be back July 22nd. The Phillies are rumored to be in on some closers on the trade market. You'll want to rank it Madson, Lidge, other reliever, Bastardo most likely. Joel Hanrahan blew a save. He's still awesome. Mark Melancon blew a save. He's not an elite reliever by peripherals, but his team needs him in that closer role because they don't have many other good relievers. David Hernandez earned a save but J.J. Putz should be back from his elbow soon enough.

* A few offensive performances deserve more than a sentence. Albert Pujols hit his 20th home run. Did you think he was having a bad year? Hanley Ramirez had a home run and a stolen base Sunday and six hits over the weekend -- he's smoking hot. Aramis Ramirez had two doubles Sunday and a home run Saturday to continue his scorching month. Mitch Moreland was dropped to ninth in the order to Sunday to get him to relax. He hit a home run, but he's more about showing a decent batting average and a good walk rate. The move in the order might actually help him on one of those counts. Teammate Ian Kinsler hit two home runs Saturday. Off Felix Hernandez. Then he was hit in the helmet on Sunday by Blake Beavan (who did decently, striking out three, walking two and giving up three earned in 6 2/3 innings). He says he is fine, and that he could see straight and knew what was going on. Jemile Weeks got two hits and even though he's all batting average and speed -- which can be a volatile mix without patience -- he's ownable in most leagues. Just don't depend on him to do this all year. Matt Joyce fouled a ball of his knee, grimaced, stepped back in and hit a home run Saturday. Then he missed Sunday's game and is day-to-day going forward. Zack Cozart hit his first major league home run Sunday and looks like he can be a mixed league play in the middle infield even if his long-term upside is perhaps muted. It's not like the Reds have another shortstop worth playing right now.

* Catchers catching up include Matt Wieters and Carlos Santana. A little bad luck on batted balls held Santana's batting average down and if he pairs a better average with that power he'll be a top three catcher this year. He had two hits and his 15th home run Sunday. Matt Wieters has been better than you think, as long as you compare his numbers to other catchers. He hit his tenth home run Sunday. Victor Martinez collected his 51st and 52nd RBI of the season on Sunday. By being in the lineup and having a sweet stroke and approach at the plate, he's still worth his price even if there's not a ton of power coming in the second half necessarily. Wilson Ramos collected three hits over the weekend and is playable but not hugely exciting in all formats. He'll play even more with Ivan Rodriguez shut down from swinging on rehab recently.

National League Quick Hits: Mike Stanton hit two home runs Saturday and he's giving exactly what was expected of him on draft day, which makes him a bargain … Shaun Marcum left Sunday's game with a strained neck but says he'll be fine … Dan Hudson threw a complete game and drove in three at the plate and we're fawning and saying we've been saying he's been great all year … Jeff Keppinger had three hits and a home run against the Pirates and can keep giving you an empty batting average at a tough position if he keeps playing every day … Carlos Beltran (flu) missed a couple games … Freddie Freeman singled home the winning run and there's no way he can't keep doing what he's doing, even if there's also no reason to necessarily think he'll improve … Danny Espinosa is a top-ten second baseman despite his batting average, and he hit a home run and collected two other hits Sunday … Chase Headley (calf) missed two games but an MRI showed nothing … Chipper Jones (knee) took 20 swings and hopes to be ready by July 25th … Javier Vazquez continued his march towards usability in all leagues by striking out 11 Cubs in seven innings … Tom Gorzelanny was injured in a collision at the plate but it's pretty much just a twisted ankle … Jose Tabata (quad) was held out of the High-A lineup for the third straight day and his rehab is not going swimmingly … Brandon Allen hit his first home run Saturday and is a great deep league power play, mixed league relevant if he can truly cut the strikeouts down … Jason Bourgeois (quad) is moving up to Triple-A to extend his rehab … The Astros manager says Chris Johnson, not Matt Downs, will get most of the playing time at third base going forward … Chris Volstad's velocity is a little up, but the results have been worse -- he gave up four runs in just three innings against the Cubs … Randy Wells allowed his four runs in six innings but is no more ownable … Alex Presley had three hits and a stolen base Sunday but doesn't really have a ton of power or speed once that batting average returns to earth … Ryan Doumit will begin a rehab assignment this week … The Padres put Jason Bartlett (who had two steals Saturday) on the paternity leave list and recalled Everth Cabrera to replace him … Aaron Cook walked three, struck out one, and gave up three runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Brewers and isn't ownable in most leagues … Nick Punto (elbow) could have season-ending elbow surgery soon … Josh Wilson is playing more in front of Yuniesky Betancourt, which just means that Jamey Carroll or Rafael Furcal is on the way.

American League Quick Hits: Erik Bedard (knee) threw a successful bullpen Sunday ... Adam Dunn doubled and scored a run, which counts as big news for him these days … Denard Span (concussion) and Jason Kubel (foot) are going to get as many as 45 at-bats on their upcoming rehab stints before rejoining the Twins … Clay Buchholz (back) still has no timetable … Max Scherzer gave up two runs in eight innings with six strikeouts but remains maddeningly inconsistent … John Danks will return Thursday, though it's not official yet … David Ortiz thinks a decision about his suspension appeal is coming soon … Travis Snider stayed hot, collecting two hits Sunday and four for the weekend, but his strikeout rate still means batting average won't be his strength … The Royals are not thinking of demoting Mike Moustakas, they promise … Jed Lowrie should start a rehab assignment this week … Scott Sizemore hit a walkoff RBI single Saturday night and is playing well enough in Oakland to fill a lot of deep league lineup holes … Juan Pierre had four hits with two stolen bases Saturday and needs to do just enough to keep his starting job for you deep league owners … Vernon Wells stole a base Saturday … Rafael Soriano (elbow) successfully bullpenned again and has been cleared to go out on assignment … Mike Carp is back in Seattle, with Carlos Pegeruo headed the other way to work on making more contact; Even if Carp may be a one-year wonder he's worth a pickup in some leagues … Brian Duensing is average enough across the board that he's at least a spot start in most leagues, and he allowed three runs in 6 1/3 with two strikeouts and one walk Sunday … Tigers prospect Jacob Turner is both close to the bigs and unlikely to come up this season according to his GM … Shortstop prospect Grant Green was moved to center field by the Athletics … Wade Davis (forearm) will have a bullpen Monday and if it goes well, he might not need a rehab stint … Jim Johnson is going to enter the rotation, but remember that everyone's stuff plays better in the pen before you rush to get him … Joel Pineiro gave up eight runs while getting one out, and isn't ownable going forward because he's lost his ground-ball rate even … Alex Cobb will start Monday's game for the Rays, but it's against the Yankees … Josh Bell is up in Baltimore but hasn't solved his plate discipline problems … Anthony Swarzak will pitch game one of the series against the Indians but doesn't get the whiffs to be a good option right now … Fernando Rodney will need one more rehab appearance before returning … Charlie Furbush might be up again Wednesday to start.


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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