Bobby Colton

Week That Was

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Hot and Not in the Dog Days

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The landscape for the playoffs has been set after the trade deadline passed on July 31st. Unsurprisingly, none of the guys on the move grace the Hot column, as they will surely need some time to adjust (have you seen Carlos Beltran's early struggles?). Second basemen really dominated the Hot/Not scene this week, with 2 hot and 3 not across both leagues. Meanwhile, familiar faces populate the NL Not category, and injuries help to explain why the AL Nots are, well, Nots. Read on to see if your players are Hot or Not.

NL Batters

The Hot: Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks, 3B

Ryan Roberts has quietly posted a very solid season in the desert. He's posted a .259 average, .351 OBP with 15 homers and 14 steals. This week, Roberts was an on-base machine. In addition to going 9/18, he also drew 8 walks. That's an incredible .654 OBP for the week. If that wasn't enough, he clocked 2 homers, knocked in 5 runs, and scored 7 of his own. Roberts is a great play in NL only leagues and should be utilized as such. If he keeps this up, he will force himself onto mixed league assets.

The Hotter: Dan Uggla, Braves, 2B

Uggla has put on a show since July, raising his average from .176 to a still pitiful .215. His 25 game hit streak was long overdue, and owners were especially grateful this week. Dan Uggla showed his massive power, hitting 5 homers in 6 games with 11 RBI and 6 runs scored. He hit .375 this week, and if only he learned how to take a walk, he would be so much more valuable. He is still only really an option in NL only leagues.

The Hottest: Matt Holliday, Cardinals, OF

Matt Holliday has been one of the best players in baseball all season. This week was no exception. Holliday hit .348, plus he drew 8 walks. But wait, there's more! Holliday homered 3 times, knocked in 7 runs, and scored 10 himself. And, he stole his first base of the season. Holliday is a must start in all leagues for the foreseeable future.

The Not: Orlando Hudson, Padres, 2B

Hudson is just not a reliable fantasy option at this point in his career. Hudson is hitting just .235 this season, but this week was much, much worse. Hudson managed just 3 hits in 21 trips, one of which a homerun. He mustered just two runs and two RBI. Hudson is nothing but a low level option in NL only leagues.

The Not-ter: Danny Espinosa, Nationals, 2B

It was Ian Desmond who was subject of trade rumors last week, but it was Danny Espinosa who couldn't muster a hit this season. Espinosa hit .103 (3/29) this week, with one run and zero RBI. Espinosa also struck out in 9 of his 30 plate appearances. Hitting .223, Espinosa is in Hudson territory. At least he has his whole career in front of him.

The Not-test: Carlos Lee, Astros, OF/1B

No Hunter Pence, no Michael Bourn, no Brett Wallace, no Chris Johnson, no Jeff Keppinger, and even no Jason Castro. The Astros rely on Carlos Lee as providing some sort of production in the middle of a batting order that features just two players who were in the Opening Day lineup (Humberto Quintero). Lee rewarded the Astros with an 0/20 week. The not-quite-bright side is that Lee walked for just the 31st and 32nd times this week. Lee is not a mixed league option, especially considering who he has as protection.

AL Batters

The Hot: Robinson Cano, Yankees, 2B

Mike Napoli earned some consideration here (.435 avg, 4 hr, 8 rbi, 6 r), but ultimately it was Robinson Cano who earns the honors. Cano hit .464 this week, smacked 6 extra base hits (2 homers), scored 9 runs, and got an AL high 12 RBI. There isn't much to say about Cano. The facts remain the same: Cano is baseball's best second baseman and he is a must start in all leagues at all times.

The Hotter: Hideki Matsui, A's, DH

Hideki Matsui has reached base in 18 straight, raising his average from .224 to .265. This week Matsui impressed by posting a ridiculous .571 average. Unfortunately, he posted just 2 RBI and 4 runs. Matsui is still not usable in most mixed leagues thanks to his relative lack of power, complete lack of speed, and erratic production at the dish. If Matsui can keep up this hot streak, then we can talk about using him more freely.

The Hottest: Alex Gordon, Royals, OF

It was about time Alex Gordon got his career on track. The converted left fielder has been fantastic all season, hitting a very solid .311 with 14 homers and 9 steals. This week Gordon hit .520, hit 2 homers, and scored 10 times. He also knocked in 4 out of the leadoff spot. Gordon should be in all lineups after coming on strong this year.

The Not: David Ortiz, Red Sox, DH

Boy, were there a lot of choices in the AL this week. Jonny Damon, Evan Longoria, J.J. Hardy, Bobby Abreu, Adam Lind, and Carl Crawford all garnered some consideration. Big Papi went just 3/25 and only managed two runs and two RBI. Chalk it up to a bad week for Ortiz, as the All-Star DH will bounce right back. He needs to be in all lineups.

The Not-ter: Ian Kinsler, Rangers, 2B

Kinsler is having a tough, tough season. Kinsler's previous career low batting average was .253. He hasn't had a .250 average since May 16th (he hasn't eclipsed last year's .286 since April 5th). This week was as bad as it gets for Kinsler. The second baseman hit .095 this week with 1 RBI and ZERO RUNS SCORED. We can only hope he finds his old self next season.

The Not-test: Eric Thames, Blue Jays, OF

Thames has been great this year for fantasy owners and the Jays. Until this week. Thames went 0/19 and has struck out 8 times in his last 12 at bats and 6 times in his last 8. Thames is still a valuable player in AL only leagues, but a week like this one shows why a contending mixed league team can't rely on a guy like Thames.

NL Pitchers

The Hot: Tim Stauffer, Padres, P

Stauffer strung together two very solid starts this week. Stauffer got to face the Rockies at spacious Petco rather than Coors Field, and he made the most of it. Stauffer went seven strong, surrendering just 3 runs and showing pinpoint control, walking just 1. For his follow-up performance, Stauffer hurled 6.1 innings of shutout ball, allowing just 7 guys to reach base. Stauffer has a sub-3.00 ERA and should be in all lineups.

The Hotter: Johnny Cueto, Reds, P

Cueto has quietly had one of the best seasons of any pitcher in baseball. To qualify for the ERA lead a pitcher must have thrown 111 innings, but Cueto has only thrown 109.1 innings this season. For arguments sake, we'll pretend he qualifies. His 1.72 ERA would be the best in baseball, better than Jered Weaver (1.88), better than Justin Verlander (2.24) and better than Roy Halladay (2.55). Now, one might argue that his last start is why he is so high on the list. However, even before he stifled the Giants for 9 innings of three-hit ball. Well then, what if I told you that prior to that last start his ERA was still 1.88, the same mark as Jered Weaver has. Cueto is flying under the radar in Cincinnati thanks to his early season injury, but if he is in any way available, buy now.

The Hottest: Cliff Lee, Phillies, P

News Flash: Phillies pitching is really good. How can a pitcher of Cliff Lee's capacity possibly rebound from a disaster start against the Padres in which he went just 4 innings of 5 run ball? You throw 7.2 innings of 4 run ball against the Pirates. Now, is that a masterful performance? No, even with his 11 strikeouts. Well then, how do you like a 7-hit shutout of the Giants? Lee is an elite pitcher, even if he is the 3rd starter on his team.

The Not: Derek Lowe, Braves, P

Lowe didn't have it for a second week in a row. When you're a fantasy owner and you see that your pitcher has a team like the Nationals on tap, you are banking on a W. Lowe got absolutely embarrassed. He lasted just 4 innings and served up 10 hits, resulting in 8 runs (7 earned). Since June 8th, Lowe's ERA has risen 113 points. You should not have Lowe in your lineups. Get him out before the Braves punt him from the rotation themselves.

The Not-ter: Kevin Correia, Pirates, P

As bad as Lowe has been the last two weeks, Correia has been worse. Since July 3rd, Correia's ERA has risen 97 points. This week was pretty much as bad as it gets for the Pirates' hurler. Correia lasted just two innings, getting thumped for 8 runs on 10 hits, including 4 homers. Since July, Correia has been good every other game and brutal the other day. For those gamblers out there, he's due for a good one on against the Padres on Sunday. I am not a gambler.

The Not-test: Rodrigo Lopez, Cubs, P

Lopez was really bad on July 30th against the Cardinals. In just 4.1 innings, Lopez served up 8 hits, allowing 6 runs and walking one more than he struck out (3:2). The silver lining is that the Cardinals are a good hitting team. But what was Lopez's excuse against the Pirates? On August 4th Lopez again got smacked, allowing 6 more runs on 7 hits over 4 innings, walking 2 without striking out anyone. Lopez shouldn't even be in the Cubs' rotation, let alone yours.

AL Pitchers

The Hot: Justin Verlander, Tigers, P

Verlander went 8 innings of 1 hit ball, striking out 9 against the Angels. There's nothing more to say about Verlander. He is a top 3 pitcher in the AL at a minimum.

The Hotter: Ivan Nova, Yankees, P

Ivan Nova was so good this week that he forced the Yankees to go with a 6-man rotation. In his first start of the week against the Orioles, Nova twirled 7 innings of 2 run ball, allowing just 6 hits while fanning 6. He was even better against the White Sox. Nova hurled 7.2 innings of one run ball, allowing just 6 hits again, but striking out a whopping 10 batters. Nova is a must start in AL only leagues, but is still risky in mixed leagues.

The Hottest: Dan Haren, Angels, P

Dan Haren is red hot. In his last three starts, he has thrown 24.2 innings of 3 run ball. This week, he started with complete game against Detroit allowing just one run. He followed it up with 8 more innings of one run ball against Minnesota. Haren is a phenomenal pitcher and must be started in all leagues.

The Not: Trevor Cahill, A's, P

Cahill narrowly avoided this spot last week. No such luck this week. Cahill got smashed by the Seattle Mariners. That puts in perspective how bad Cahill's start was. He lasted just 4 innings and was tattooed for 12 hits and 7 runs. Cahill's been somewhat erratic all year, but he still has a respectable 3.91 ERA on the season. He's still worth your while in deeper mixed leagues.

The Not-ter: Carlos Villanueva, Blue Jays, P

Turns out injury is to blame for this disaster week. Villanueva is now on the DL with a right (pitching) forearm strain. This week's start against the Rays rose his ERA by 64 points. The converted reliever lasted only 2.2 innings, giving up 8 runs on 9 hits. A third of those hits were homers. Villanueva is going to be sidelined for a few weeks at the minimum, so make your roster moves accordingly.

The Not-test: Zach Britton, Orioles, P

Britton's poor week has to do with injury as well, as the rookie right-hander heads to the DL with a shoulder strain. Britton did not have a good time facing the Yankees this week. He lasted only a third of an inning, allowing 9 runs (6 earned) on 7 hits. Britton's next start was better, but it really would have been impossible for it to be worse. He lasted a full 5.1 innings against he Royals and got knocked around for 12 hits and 6 runs (4 earned). Britton's injury should keep him out a few weeks at the minimum, but he shouldn't be in fantasy lineups for the rest of this year anyway.

And, no Week That Was would be complete without what Schultz says: "Anyone who manages to get a job as a general manager of a Major League Baseball has a pretty good handle on what they are doing. If they don't, they are either assigned the guardianship of the Chicago Cubs' roster or grew up named Omar Minaya. While some like Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein are quite good at lavishing the money of others on Japanese imports and poker enthusiasts, others have to build their roster through shrewd trades and old-fashioned foresight. Unlike roto-ball, most GMs are quite adept at valuing their own talent and stories like the Jose Bautista fleecing aren't as common as the headlines would have you think. (For as horrible as that trade looks now, if it was a roto-trade, it would have passed the most vigilant trading review system). Red Sox fans may have enjoyed their time with Victor Martinez but they are not happy watching Justin Masterson blossom in Cleveland. Without question, the Mariners would like to have the two no-names they gave the Tribe for Eduardo Perez and Ben Broussard back. (For those who don't know: Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo).

It's always a good idea to pay attention to the minor leaguers that get traded in exchange for big ticket items. The Rangers rode their trade of Mark Teixeira to the Braves into the 2010 World Series with Elvis Andrus and Neftali Feliz playing key roles and Matt Harrison contributing this year. The most prospectful prospect traded this summer was Indians pitcher Drew Pomeranz, who went to Colorado with fellow first round draft pick Alex White in the Ubaldo Jiminez trade (not quite the most awe-inspiring first start there Ubaldo - although Pure Rage should have served you better). Factoring in the Colorado air, those two should be on your radar in 2013. Jarred Cosart and his "curveball of death" should give Astros fans something to cheer about in a couple years and, should you remember that he was a key piece to the Hunter Pence deal, may give you a steal to cheer about right about that time. The Mariners aren't wasting time cashing in on their trade of Eric Bedard: outfielder Trayvon Robinson, who had been ravaging AAA pitching, is already manning left field and notched his first major league hit Friday night.

Roto-baseball serves those with long memories. Remember that the Brandon Allens and Robbie Erlins of today were once the Jeff Bagwells and Jon Smoltz of another decade."

Final thoughts: Great work by both Bobby and Schultz!

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