The imminent return of Stephen Strasburg highlights this week’s column.
Stephen Strasburg: Stephen Strasburg is back! Well, just about. In what should be his final rehab tune-up, the Nat’s “Savior” (my nickname for him) gave up just one hit over six shutout innings. You do not need to be an “expert” or author to know that those in keeper leagues should snag the Savior. However, the real issue is whether those contenders with FAAB money left should blow that budget on Strasburg. Answer: YES! Even if he gets just 5 starts in September, Strasburg could easily register over 30 k’s with solid ratios. Spend now. Remember, you cannot take it with you into the off-season.
Justin Smoak: In far less headline making news, Justin Smoak came off the DL and will return to the Mariners lineup. However, this youngster is not going to provide much help down the stretch. Even in the 2011 “improved” form, Smoak is hitting just .220 and plays for an offense that is barely on life support. Ok, let me put it another way – Smoak has over 700 big league at bats and his average is just 10 pct above the Mendoza line. Maybe in two years, Smoak will be a fantasy starter. He is not today. Move on.
Randall Delgado: According to reports, the Braves will give the ball to Randall Delgado Sunday against the foundering Dodgers. A few points are worth making here. First, Delgado represents a good chance to register an all important win against LA this week. Second, Delgado should help in the K category as well. He has over 6k/9 inn in the majors so far to go with a very impressive 135K in 139 minor league innings. Third, Delgado will be in the Braves rotation for years to come. That means he is a keeper. Those in keeper leagues, you get that, right?
Andrew Carpenter: In a move that will fly below most fantasy radars, the Padres claimed Andrew Carpenter off waivers from the Phillies. Look at these minor league numbers: 1.79 ERA and 65/11 K/BB ratio over 60 1/3 innings. Now, add in the fact that San Diego is a place where pitchers go to flourish and you have a potential very cheap keeper if you get him for a buck this week. Do it.
Roger Bernadina: The Nats have once again called up Roger Bernadina. Despite all the promise resulting from his vaunted off season conditioning, Roger has hit a meager .247 so far this year. However, there are some reasons to look closely here. In his last full season in the minors, he was well over .300 (2008). He is only 27, so he is not over the hill. Plus, he did have double digit steals and homers in less than full time play last year in the bigs. If you have to take a late season risk to attempt to make up serious September ground, there are worse places to do so.
Bryan LaHair: In what is a nice story, but little else, the Cubbies called up Bryan LaHair from AAA. The good news is that Lahair posted sick numbers at AAA, including 38 dingers. The bad news is that he hit those jacks in the hitter friendly PCL at the advanced age of 29. The odds of LaHair being a late bloomer who has found “it” are small. Enough said. Feel free to root for LaHair against all odds, just don’t bet those odds with your fantasy pennant race or long term keeper plan.
Lance Berkman: Lance Berkman is stone cold. Over the last 14 AB, he has 0 hits and 6 K. Yes, he has been a huge fantasy producer this year. However, if you have the opportunity to sell high (i.e., you are in a league that allows Sept trading), sell. The Puma looked tired last year, is hardly a spring chicken and will likely struggle to be anything like he was in the first half. You have been warned.
Jesus Montero: The Jesus Montero era began this week, well sort of. The only real positive from game one was that Joe Girardi left Montero in to hit against a righty. From a fantasy perspective, the only reason Montero should be on your radar screen this year is if he is catcher eligible. Otherwise, a part time DH on the short side of a platoon should not be on even an AL only team. Side note here – for those of you in NY, you know all about Yankee radio announcer John Sterling’s home run calls: “A Bomb from ARod”; “Tex Message” from Teixeira; “Robbie Cano, don’t ya know”, etc. The question hotly debated on NY radio this week was what will the Montero call be? I have two suggestions: “Jesus goes to Venus” (a reference to the Elton John song) and “Jesus, I like him very much” (a reference to the Indians’ greatest baseball triumph in the movie “Major League”).
Jordan Lyles: Sticking with young rookies, the Astros recalled Jordan Lyles. If you are in a fantasy pennant race, forget this move. Lyles will be in the pen. However, if he is available and you are in a keeper league, snag Lyles. At just 20, Jordan posted an almost 3/1 K/BB. While some of the other numbers weren’t pretty, there is a lot of reason for long term optimism for this precocious hurler. Buy for the future.
Brett Wallace: Sticking with the Astros, they recalled often traded Brett Wallace. Those in both pennant races and keeper leagues should pay attention. He just turned 25, has consistently hit over .300 in the minors and posted a respectable (though not special) .268 in the bigs this year. Wallace is a classic post hype player who can pay big dividends. He is worth the small investment.
And last and least (yeah, let's call it a typo), this from the baron of the bottom of the page -- Schultz says: “The football pre-season has come to an end and with it hundreds of predictions and prognostications stemming from what we've allegedly learned from a handful of practice games. Despite the confidence in the logic, the conclusions never come from a reliable basis of fact. Calm down everybody, Schultz (yes, the return of the third person) knows that you didn't keep reading for some Malcolm Gladwell derived tripe about the scientific method. (Although if you did? Wow! Really? How did you end up here? I'm fascinated).
Everybody knows that the stars of any sport's pre-season will soon be relegated back to the depths of obscurity. Has there been a Jake Fox sighting recently? And what about this year's NL standout, Mike Morse? He's just vanished . . . Wait a minute! No, he hasn't. Proving that pundits don't get paid for the accuracy of their predictions, Morse has defied the conventional wisdom and turned in a phenomenal breakout season for the Nationals.
When planning for any draft/auction (as some of you might be doing this weekend), keep in mind that the base level of roto-information has leveled dramatically in the Internet age. Everyone pretty much has the same information at their disposal. The roto-owners that usually do well are the ones that flout the norm and go against the grain. They end up with the Mike Morses of the world while everyone else runs. Are they the smart ones? A wise guitarist once said, "there's a fine line between stupid and clever."
Response: Come on Schultzie, you cannot close with a line involving stupid and clever, it is too easy. Which I guess should have been your other point. When things seem too easy, they usually are. If someone falls so far in your draft, quickly get on the web and see if there is some news you missed. That type of in draft diligence could be key!