Tony Gwynn, Jr.: Tony Gwynn Jr.
is doing his best impression of his Hall of Fame old man. Last night, Jr. went yard for the second time in three days. While the overall numbers are not eye-popping, the last week has been huge for Jr. In that span, he has 9 hits, 2 jacks and 4 SB – production that will make any roto-owner proud. The bottom line here is that the power if illusory, the speed real, the Dodgers offense weak and Gwynn's opportunity to play full time tenuous. Advice: Move him while you still can. There will be no reason to play Gwynn over youngsters such as Jerry Sands
once the rosters expand September 1.Rich Harden
: Rich Harden
looked like the ace of old Friday night, shutting out the Jays over seven while striking out 11. Can he stay healthy over the long haul? No. Can he be the elixir for your staff that can make all the difference in the last six weeks? You bet. In four August starts, he has blown down 30 hitters, for an average of well over 11K/9inn. The only caveat to this is that his next start is against the scalding hot New York Yankees who will be even more powerful with the return of ARod. Advice: See if you can grab Harden after he leaves Yankee Stadium. Oh, and if he clears waivers, he may even end up on a contender!Raul Ibanez
: Raul Ibanez
continued his deep freeze Friday, going 0-4 against the Nats. Indeed, this month, Ibanez is so far under the Mendoza line, he needs the Hubble telescope to see it. Do not be fooled by the huge stats he posted (34 HR, 93 RBI) in his last hurrah of 2009. Ibanez has struck out more than 3x for every walk this year, is at just .236 over the full year and as noted above, is just not hitting in the dog days. Given that he is a liability in the field, it may not be long before he cedes ground to another junior, John Mayberry
, and/or Domonic Brown
. Sell if it is still possible.Phil Hughes
: Phil Hughes
continued his improbable comeback from an atrocious beginning of 2011 by giving up just two hits and one run over 7 2/3. Has Hughes turned into a decent major league starter for the rest of 2011? Yes. Is he a target for you to chase in the roto-pennant race? No. Even in last night's gem, Hughes struck out only two and was rarely above 91 on the gun. The only good news about his lack of velocity from a roto standpoint is that at 91, he is really not that valuable in the pen. Thus, if you need wins, Hughes could help. If you need K's or strong ratios, I wouldn't give up much for Phil.B.J. Upton
: B.J. Upton
showed flashes of his great, but often wasted, gifts last night, getting two hits and stealing two bases in his team's win over King Felix. As noted below, if you are winning your league, Upton is just too stressful to own. However, if you need to make a move up the mountain, he could be the energy boost you need. Remember, this is the guy who hit 7 post season dingers despite nursing a significant injury. Jason Kipnis
: In tough news for the Tribe, rookie 2B Jason Kipnis
will be out three weeks with a strained hammy. Before the injury, Kipnis was hitting .279 with 6 dingers in just 68 AB. If you are in a keeper league, do just that, keep. However, if you are making a run this year, Kipnis is not likely to help. Even if he returns in mid-September, it will be asking a lot for him to regain his hot stick in time to help. Oh, if you think there is help on the tribe bench, forget it. Neither Luis Valbuena
nor Jason Donald
provides more than targets for roto-writers to pillory. However, in deference to Cleveland's native son and Week That Was anchorman, I will restrain myself. Hank Conger
: The Angles have called up C Hank Conger
and 19 year old OF Mike Trout
in an attempt to jump start a lagging offense. Conger will never remind anyone of Benito Santiago
behind the plate. However, he can hit. Yes, he was not much with the stick in limited action in the show earlier this year. However, he has always hit in the minors when getting regular time and should provide a jolt from the weak roto C position if he gets regular at bats. If you are currently playing Josh Bard
, Jose Molina
or other such good receivers/bad hitters, Conger could really help. Speculate. .
And now, as promised I will take a look at the LABR-AL pennant race. Of course, this is my favorite expert league as we get to travel to Phoenix in March, escape the cold, watch pre-season baseball, and best of all, get the privilege of playing against the best of the best for bragging rights. So, the question arises, can Rick Wolf and I bring Rotoworld a 4th LABR-AL title? Well, the answer is a definite maybe. Bad news: we spent the first half of the year locked in the cellar. Good news: we have worked hard to scratch, claw and climb our way out and have moved all the way up to 4th with six weeks to go. Bad news: Chris Liss's Rotowire team is on fire and has opened up a 13 point lead over us. Can we win? The answer is still maybe. How is that possible you ask? Well, the key is not how many points separate us from first place, but rather the spread in each of the categories. On offense, 10 HR gives us 3 points, 15 RBI gives us another 3 points, and 8 SB another 3 points. So conservatively, we could easily make back 9 points on offense. Not too shabby. Conversely, the Liss Rotowire squad has serious downward mo (and yes, this column is designed to hex him!). .0003 in batting average could cost him one point, 14 RBI could cost another 3 points, and 3 SB could cost another 3 points. Thus, just on offense the potential swing is 16 points.
On the pitching side, we have 7 starters and 7 wins is worth 3 points, 26 K is two points and an improvement in WHIP of less than .01 is another two points. On the Rotowire side of the ledger, 2 wins could cost him a point, 2 saves could cost a point, 10 K another two points and .01 in WHIP another point. So conservatively, on the pitching side, there is another 12 points in play. Thus, 28 points could easily swing without crazy swings such at the Frank Catalanatto 9 RBI in the last weekend that cost us a title (yes, Jason Grey, I am still sore about that!).
Now, specifically, what has to happen for us to win? First, Liss, who really is a great roto player, needs to cool off. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do to manage our team to make that happen other than send him emails with coded jinxes inserted and write columns like this that hex him (the fun part is he really hates that!). Second, we need to get healthy. Big Papi needs to play the last 5 weeks like Big Papi (who has been a huge bargain for us .300 and 24 jacks for 13 bucks) and Marco Scutaro
needs to continue to produce counting numbers from the scarce MI. However, most importantly, on the offensive side of the ball, we need B.J. Upton
to earn the 29 we invested by going on one of those HR/SB streaks his athletic gifts allow.
On the pitching side, we need to simply get good starts that result in wins and strikeouts. Josh Beckett
has been spectacular and that should continue. If John Danks
, Gavin Floyd
, Fausto Carmona
, Matt Harrison
and Bartolo Colon
continue to pitch well, we have hope. Of course, the latter three are far more risky but what are you going to do? Harrison and Colon could get wins on those offensive teams just by going 5 innings.
Bottom line, we would love to cut the lead to 5 or less by September 15 and make it a nail-biter. Stay tuned. Oh, and please don't tell Liss we think he is a great roto player – we will never hear the end of it!
And now back to player evaluation and strategy with this from the baron of the bottom of the page -- Schultz says: "Anyone who made the seemingly safe investment in talent from the defending world champion San Francisco Giants has to be scratching their heads and wondering where everything went wrong. The champs had one of the best starting rotations on the west coast, returned the majority of the squad that took out the Phillies
and Rangers and benefited from playing in the NL West. Rather than providing the
ingredients for roto-success, the Giants are struggling to score runs and it's a prudent move to start anyone pitching against them. This puts them in the same category as the Seattle Mariners. Ladies & Gentlemen, your 2010 Champs.
Bad luck has played a significant factor in a decline that mirrors the San
Francisco system of road design. Freddie Sanchez got injured, Aubrey Huff
and Pat Burrell
returned their talents to the guy at the crossroads to get their souls back and Brandon Belt
seemed to take forever to grow accustomed to the big leagues. Even now, Carlos Beltran
, Brian Wilson
and Johnathan Sanchez are toying with spending time on the disabled list. There are no excuses in roto-world though. Smart owners plan for the unexpected.
The rough part of this current stretch falls upon their starting staff. Under no circumstances can you sit Tim Lincecum
, Matt Cain
or even Ryan Vogelsong
. They are all pitching too well to even consider Liriano-ing them. They will all still help in the categories that they have a modicum of control over - ERA, WHIP and strikeouts - but wins are going to be hit or miss. Now since I've provided such a nice segueway, I wonder if this factors into the T of the SMART system and wouldn't that oddly justify benching Lincecum?"
Response: Well, to answer the question, it depends on your category needs. If you need K's, Lincecum is one of the best. If you need wins, and cannot move in the other categories, then Phil Hughes
and Bartolo Colon
are better bets than Tim Lincecum
based on their Teams. All that said, there is no doubt that T in SMART means better Teams perform better. Is there really a doubt as to whether the Red Sox and Yankee players will score and knock in more than Giants players? Of course not. Thus, no matter how good the Panda is, he is not going to post runs or rbi than Robbie Cano or Dustin Pedroia