Bobby Colton

Week That Was

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Pre-Trade Deadline Hot and Not

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Mets can hit without Carlos Beltran and the Astros can pitch with their current staff, at least for this one week. Plus, Jimmy Rollins and Nick Blackburn fall from Hot to Not in just a one-week span. This week saw guys living up to their considerable potential (Justin Upton, Desmond Jennings) and those continuing to fail to meet lofty expectations (Kyle Blanks, Travis Snider). Lastly, a huge congratulations to Ervin Santana on just an absolutely remarkable week. Catch up on the entire hot/not landscape right here.

NL Batters

The Hot: Daniel Murphy, Mets, 1B/3B

Murphy is more than replacing Ike Davis' bat in the Mets' lineup. Murphy has been a sensation in fantasy leagues thanks to his positions flexibility and robust .320 average. Murphy has taken over as the Mets' three hitter with Carlos Beltran donning Giant orange now, meaning his arrow is pointing straight up. This week Murphy went 14/28 for a nice even .500 average to go along with 7 RBI, 7 runs and 5 doubles. Murphy even swiped a base this week. Murphy is a definite mixed league asset as we head down the stretch.

The Hotter: David Wright, Mets, 3B

Wright's first week off the DL was glorious for the Mets and his fantasy owners. Wright was hitting a paltry .226 when he finally succumbed to the back injury that had been plaguing him for nearly a month (which explained the .226 average). Now, fully healthy, Wright has gone on a tear, going 15/33 this week to raise his average to .268. He also added 2 homers, 9 runs, and 12 RBI. Wright is a guy who will strikeout a lot, but he is still a huge part of the Mets' order, and as long as the Mets' outfielders can provide a modicum of protection, Wright should be the man you drafted in the early rounds.

The Hottest: Justin Upton, Diamondbacks, OF

Upton had a week to remember, going 13/22 while drawing another 4 walks for a huge .630 OBP, tops in the NL by almost 60 points this week. As if that wasn't enough, Upton rocketed 4 homers, plated 13 runs, scored 8 more, had 10 extra base hits, and swiped 2 bases in 2 tries. Not yet 24, Justin Upton is starting to live up to the immense potential he possesses. While big bro BJ is the subject of trade rumors this week, Upton is doing nothing but hitting.

The Not: Jimmy Rollins, Phillies, SS

How the mighty have fallen. Two weeks ago Rollins hit .393. This week? .071. That is a ridiculous 222-point difference. Rollins is in a prime position to succeed thanks to that Phillie lineup behind him, but he is so erratic. He is so tough to bench in mixed leagues thanks to his considerable tools, but that doesn't mean he isn't a feast or famine player. Just hope he can find some middle ground between .393 and .071 the next couple of months.

The Not-ter: Kyle Blanks, Padres, OF/1B

Blanks was on the verge of being handed a golden opportunity with Ryan Ludwick seemingly out the door in San Diego. However, since coming up at the start of this week, Blanks is hitting just .100. What's even worse? In 20 at bats, Blanks struck out 11 times! Blanks was hitting very well in AAA, but if he squanders this opportunity, I'm not sure he'll get another one with the Padres.

The Not-test: Ryan Theriot, Cardinals, SS

Theriot hasn't been able to hit at all this week. He managed just a measly single in 22 at bats. What's even worse is that Daniel Descalso is starting to garner time at short, Tyler Greene is coming back from AAA and is a natural shortstop, and David Freese is healing up and will reclaim his starting role. Theriot is a name to avoid for the foreseeable future, at least until he can get his bat back on track.

AL Batters

The Hot: Nelson Cruz, Rangers, OF

Cruz was an RBI machine this week, knocking in an AL best 12 RBI to go along with his .448 average and 7 extra base. Cruz is a premiere hitter when he can stay healthy, but he seems to get hurt every season. Since he's already been on the DL once this year, maybe that means he's in the clear from here on out. In any case, Cruz is a guy that needs to be in all lineups whenever he's on the field because he is that big middle of the order bat every team needs.

The Hotter: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox, 2B

The diminutive second baseman led the AL in slugging percentage with a .867 mark. Pedroia posted an even .500 average in what amounted to a very balanced week, which included 2 homers, 3, steals, 4 RBI, and 9 runs. Pedroia is the best second baseman in the game, and he isn't going to slow down any time soon.

The Hottest: Desmond Jennings, Rays, OF

The Desmond Jennings Era has begun. The Rays' super prospect seems to be up for good, stealing time in center and left until BJ Upton is finally traded. Jennings has the tools to be a perennial All-Star, so if you haven't jumped on the hype train yet, its time to do so. The 24 year old hit .500 in his first 6 games of the year, including 5 multi-hit outings (the 6th game he went hitless), a homer, a triple, 7 RBI, 5 runs, and an AL best 4 steals. Jennings must be owned in all mixed leagues, but just realize his potential might be limited if Upton isn't traded.

The Not: Travis Snider, Blue Jays, OF

We have been waiting for Snider for years, and now after the Colby Rasmus steal, Snider may be out of time. Snider went just 4/24 this week while scoring just 2 runs and knocking in just 1. Oh, and he struck out 13 times in 24 at bats. With Rajai Davis, Eric Thames, Snider, Rasmus, and possibly Mark Teahan fighting for time in the outfield, Snider is a guy to avoid in fantasy leagues until he starts to make good on that considerable potential.

The Not-ter: Mark Reynolds, Orioles, 3B

Mark Reynolds just isn't a good hitter. Reynolds has great power, but he is not the .260 hitter and 24 base stealer we saw in 2009. He is much more the .217 hitter and 5 base stealer we are seeing this year. This week, Reynolds was even worse than .217, going 2/21 with no RBI and just 1 run. Honestly, the Orioles should just be playing Josh Bell at third. Reynolds should be nowhere near fantasy lineups.

The Not-test: Alex Rios, White Sox, OF

Rios has been so bad this year after a hitting .284 last season with 21 homers and 34 steals, that he has been benched in favor of Alejandro De Aza. Rios went 2/15 this week before Ozzie Guillen finally made the move. Rios is not worth keeping on your roster if he can't even beat out De Aza for a spot in the lineup. Rios is the Not-test for losing his job.

NL Pitchers

The Hot: Bud Norris, Astros, P

Norris had two very solid starts this week, but he failed in two regards. First, Norris fell victim to 4 unearned runs in the last two starts. Second, he lasted just 12.1 innings in the two starts, not exactly giving his team much length. Now to the good. Norris' first start was marred by the shoddy defense behind him. He ended up surrendering 4 runs, just 1 earned, and 8 hits in 6.1 innings pitched while allowing 2 long balls in his loss. His next time out against the Cardinals he was much better. He allowed just 2 runs, 1 earned, over 6 innings while allowing just 4 hits. Norris has had a solid season, but he is unlikely to win many games pitching for the Astros. He is a borderline mixed league asset.

The Hotter: Wandy Rodriguez, Astros, P

Rodriguez was brilliant in both of his starts, auditioning for contending teams. Rodriguez took the loss in his first start, allowing just a pair of solo homers in 7 innings of work. Rodriguez only allowed one other hit and one walk while striking out 7, but took the loss thanks to pitching for the Astros. His next start came against the Cardinals and he was just as good. So good, that he even won the game. Rodriguez allowed just 3 runs, 1 earned, in 7 innings. The Cardinals managed just 5 hits while Rodriguez fanned 6 hitters. If Rodriguez gets moved to a contender, he could be a great mixed league asset.

The Hottest: Cole Hamels, Phillies, P

Cole Hamels is really, really good. His first start came against the Padres, where he absolutely manhandled the weak hitting club. Hamels lasted 8 innings surrendering just 1run on 3 hits and striking out 10. In his second start of the weak against the Giants, Hamels took the loss on a rare night where the Phillies' bats didn't have it. He went 7.2 innings allowing just a pair of runs on 6 hits with 6 more strikeouts. Hamels is easily one of the top hurlers in the NL and could win the Cy Young this season. Hamels is a must start from here on out against anyone but the Mets. A whopping 29.5% of his earned runs allowed this season came in two starts against the Mets.

The Not: Derek Lowe, Braves, P

Lowe just could not give the Braves any distance this week. In both of his starts Lowe lasted just 5 innings, taking the loss in both. First, against Cincinnati, Lowe allowed 4 earned runs on 6 hits over his 5 innings. Lowe struck out just 1 while walking 2. His start against the Pirates wasn't any better. This time he allowed 3 earned on 8 hits and although he fanned 5, he still walked 3. That means he had a WHIP over 2.00 for that start. Lowe needs to be better if he's going to help fantasy teams or his Braves.

The Not-ter: Kevin Correia, Pirates, P

Correia was all too hittable this week. The Cardinals burned him, while the Braves couldn't. Correia lasted just 4.2 innings against St. Louis before being chased. Correia allowed 7 runs on 8 hits striking out just 2. The final numbers from Correia's second start didn't seem too bad on the surface. The righty lasted 6.1 innings and surrendered just 2 runs, and only 1 earned. Then, when you look closer, you see Correia allowed a whopping 9 hits. Correia got lucky he didn't get blown out against the Braves, and you shouldn't take that chance with him in mixed leagues.

The Not-test: Homer Bailey, Reds, P

Bailey was actually good against the Braves in his first start, allowing just 2 runs over 6 innings to earn the win. But against a Mets' lineup newly missing Carlos Beltran, Bailey got absolutely blown up for 9 earned runs on 12 hits over just 4 innings. Bailey's ERA rose from 3.67 to 4.68 in the outing. He had been good before the Mets' start, but he is still a questionable option in mixed leagues to say the least.

AL Pitchers

The Hot: Max Scherzer, Tigers, P

Scherzer was very solid in both of his starts this week. Against the Twins, Scherzer allowed just 1 earned run over 7 innings in which he allowed only 5 base runners. His next start wasn't as good, but it was still impressive. Scherzer was a tough luck loser against the White Sox, going 6 strong innings allowing just 2 earned. The bad were his 4 walks. He did still fan 8, but he needs to have better control down the stretch. Scherzer is a fine option in AL only leagues, but is not nearly good enough for mixed leagues.

The Hotter: Scott Baker, Twins, P

Baker came off the DL and was great in both starts. Baker's first outing of the week came against the Tigers. Baker hadn't made any rehab starts and was making his first start since the DL, so he wasn't going to last very long regardless. However, Baker made the most of his time, hurling 5 innings of shutout ball, allowing just 3 hits while walking only 1 and striking out 5. His next start against the Rangers, in Texas, was just as good. Baker scattered 8 hits over 7 innings, resulting in just 2 earned runs while he managed not to walk a single batter. Baker ended up the tough luck loser as the Twins managed just one run. Baker has had a great season, and with the Twins on a roll, Baker must be owned in mixed leagues.

The Hottest: Ervin Santana, Angels, P

Ervin Santana is on one heck of a roll. Since the beginning of June Santana has allowed more than 3 runs just once, a 4 run outing against the Royals. This week, Santana started with a gem against the Orioles. Santana allowed just 1 earned on 3 hits, walking just 1 and striking out only 1. What could Santana possibly have done for an encore? How about a no hitter? Santana actually surrendered an unearned run after walking just one batter. Santana also struck out a season high 10. Santana is red-hot and must be on all mixed league rosters.

The Not: Joel Pineiro, Angels, P

Trevor Cahill got some consideration for this spot thanks to his 10 run blowup against the Yankees. However, Cahill salvaged himself by hurling 7.1 innings of shutout ball against the Rays. Now, on to Pineiro. Joel wasn't awful in his first outing of the week, allowing 3 runs over 5.1 innings against the Orioles. What was awful was his 11 hits allowed in that outing. His next start against the Tigers was pretty bad. Pineiro lasted just 3.1 innings before being chased. He got pattered for 6 runs, 5 earned, on 7 hits. The most surprising? Pineiro did not strike out a single batter in his two starts. Oh, and it's worth mentioning he lasted just a third of an inning allowing 7 earned the start before. He should be nowhere near lineups for the time being.

The Not-ter: Nick Blackburn, Twins, P

As good as Blackburn was last week (1 earned in 13 innings), he was even worse this week. Blackburn lasted all of 2.2 innings as the Rangers trounced the Twins 20-6. Blackburn himself allowed 9 runs, 6 earned, on 11 hits. Blackburn should be ale to bounce back, but it is awful hard to use him again in mixed leagues.

The Not-test: James Shields, Rays, P

Last week it was Dan Haren, this week it's Shields playing the role of an All-Star blowing up. Shields just couldn't corral the A's, being torched for 10 earned over 4 innings. To put that in perspective, Shields had allowed just 9 earned in 4 starts this month before the blowup. There is no explanation for this start, and owners shouldn't hesitate to throw Shields right back out there.

And last but not least, Schultz says: "At the beginning of this season, like the last two before, expectations were as high as they could be for Dexter Fowler to emerge as a five category roto-superstar. While his power capabilities have been more rumor than fact, there has always been ample evidence that he could steal 60 bases if given the chance . . . and if he could get on base at least 60 times. The first half of 2011 has been as close to an unmitigated disaster as it could get for Fowler and his owners. In June things looked quite bleak: Fowler was relegated to the minors like an underperforming English Premier League team and Charles Blackmon seemed poised to make Fowler an afterthought. Perhaps Fowler's long, hard stare into the abyss is the best thing that could have happened. Since Blackmon's injury, Fowler's recall has gone swimmingly. With a batting average north of .350 and more steals in the last two weeks than in the first two months of the season, Fowler may yield great dividends to roto-owners that missed out on the Desmond Jennings sweepstakes.

Colby Rasmus, another young player who has constantly struggled to reach the expectations of roto-owners, finally received the reprieve that he had been reportedly been looking for since last season. The relationship between Rasmus and Cardinal's manager Tony LaRussa had grown toxic and despite flashes of brilliance, LaRussa and the Cardinals coaching staff seemed unable or unwilling to work with him in honing in skills. In all fairness to the Cardinals, it doesn't sound as if Rasmus was a Daniel LaRusso quality student. This week's trade to the Blue Jays will either be the catalyst towards reviving Rasmus' roto-value - for the last month, his sporadic success at the plate had threatened to turn him into a platoon player - or confirming his place on the underachieving and overrated All Stars. This one is going to take some time to develop, so patience is going to be required.

Final thoughts: If you are a sports fan, this weekend will be just great fun. NFL free agents signing by the minute, MLB trades flying in. Great stuff! Enjoy

Email :Bobby Colton

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