Timeout for a shameless piece of self-promotion: Don’t forget to tune in to hear Rick Wolf and me on Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio Tuesday nights from 8-11pm eastern time. It’s a fun three hours of sports, fantasy and goofy humor.
Ok, now back to business . . . . You have all read about Johan's No-No and the risk of 130+ pitches on his post-shoulder surgery, so I assume you have that covered (and if not, Schultz does at the south end of this piece.
Carlos Gonzalez: There is no one hotter in major league baseball (or maybe all of sports) than Cargo. On Wednesday/Thursday, Cargo hit dingers in four straight at bats. In his "lesser" of the two nights, Cargo went 3-4 with three runs, three RBI, an HR and a SB. Check out these numbers so far: .332, 14 homers, 44 RBI and eight steals. That is a pace for 47 HR, 148 RBI and 27 SB. Monstrous! The bottom line here is that Cargo was undervalued at draft time this year because he missed some time last year with nagging injuries. Healthy, in Colorado, at the ripe young age of 26, this big year should have been very predictable. There may be a doubter in your league thinking he or she is selling high because of last year's "down" numbers (26-92-.295). Wow, wouldn’t that be sweet?
Nick Markakis: Nick Markakis landed on the shelf this week after hamate bone surgery. This is not what the O's, Nick or Nick's fantasy owners wanted to see. Markakis, who had not reached the 20 HR plateau since 2008, was finally showing some power (25 HR pace) before getting hurt. Given that hitters who suffer hand or wrist injuries often return to the field long before their power returns, the prognosis for Nick in 2012 is not very good. He will be out a month or more and then return without the power and looking at a .256 average. Bottom line here -- wait for Markakis to return and sell after the first good game or two.
Travis Blackley: Travis Blackley is going to take Tyson Ross's spot in the A's rotation and start Tuesday. A few thoughts come to mind. First, it is just a matter of time before the A's turn that spot over to Brad Peacock. Second, Blackley provides a perfect example of how important it is to watch matchups. Do NOT be fooled by Blackley's five innings of one-run ball Monday against the Twins. The Twins are just plain old bad at the dish. Blackley's opponent on Tuesday is the exact opposite -- the Texas Rangers. If you need me to tell you to stay far, far, far away from this matchup, then I have little faith in your pennant chances.
Yasmani Grandal: The Padres, desperate for offense, have called up their catcher of the future, Yasmani Grandal. Thus far this year, Grandal has hit .317 with four homers at AAA. The good news is that Grandal is not likely being called to the show to watch. The bad news is two-fold. First, young catchers rarely hit right away in the bigs. Second, 4 homers in the hitter friendly PCL hardly inspires confidence that a ball will leave Petco off of Grandal's bat. Grandal is good fodder for dynasty leagues or super deep NL leagues, but that is about it for now.
Brad Lincoln: The Bucs announced that Brad Lincoln will take Charlie Morton's (DL) spot in the rotation and get the ball Tuesday against the Reds. This is an interesting story. Bad -- Great American is not pitcher friendly. Good -- 26K in 25 innings with strong ratios mostly out of the pen. Bad -- 4.86 ERA career in the bigs with a pedestrian walk rate. Good -- he is now 27 and it is time he shows the promise we have long heard about. Bottom line -- it is just hard to predict which Lincoln will show up if he is allowed to stay in the rotation. Those in deep NL leagues should grab him and play matchups. Those in shallower leagues can do better -- and should. [NB -Lincoln pitched in relief Friday night so it is not clear if he will still take the ball Tuesday].
Yoenis Cespedes: Yoenis Cespedes came off the shelf Friday and will man LF for the A's. Thus far this year, Cespedes has struggled to hit for average (.245) but had some pop (5 HR) and some speed (4 SB) through 119 AB before getting hurt. I think this is a fair set of expectations for the Cuban defector -- some speed, some power, bad average. Act accordingly. [NB - the return of Cespedes and the imminent arrival of Manny Ramirez means less time or even demotion/DFA for one or more of Barton, K'aahue, or Cowgill].
Andrelton Simmons: Andrelton Simmons arrived from Double-A Mississippi to take over as the Braves starting SS with Tyler Pastornicky heading to Triple-A. Given that fielding doesn’t count in fantasy, there is not much to see here. Simmons was hitting .292 with three homers and 10 steals at AA, but expecting more than a punchless .250 in the bigs is expecting too much. Dynasty leaguers should take notice. Others should move right along.
Elian Herrera: Elian Herrera continued his hot streak Thursday, going 2-3 with two walks and a stolen base. This is a sell high situation if there ever was one. Yes, the Dodgers are looking for production wherever they can get it while superstar Matt Kemp sits again. However, given that Herrera has whiffed 15 times in 17 games, did not make the majors until his age 27 season and has not hit over .300 since rookie ball in 2006, his .328 major league average is likely an illusion. Sell high while you still can.
Delmon Young: I know I have written about him before, but Delmon Young is the kind of buy low player for the second half that could carry you to fantasy nirvana. Thursday, DYoung went 3-5 with a pair of RBI and his 4th dinger. I know I sound like a broken record but . . . like Melky Cabrera, Young made the majors at age 20, has a world of talent and at age 26 (Melky's age last year) is ready to break out. The investment window is closing. Ignore his off the field idiocy and roster the stats.
Josh Beckett: Josh Beckett has been much better this year than people realize. With all the attention to Red Sox beer, chicken and golf stories, Beckett's success has flown under the radar. In his last seven starts, Beckett has 35 K against 11 BB. Outside of one clunker in those seven starts, Becket has tossed 42 innings with just 10 ER against. The bottom line here is that the Red Sox are starting to turn things around and Josh Beckett is a bulldog starter who will continue to take the ball and put up solid roto numbers. He may be undervalued now but it will not last long.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page -- Schultz says: “I think it's safe to say that, right now, Johan Santana may be the most dominant pitcher in baseball. The possessors of the title of Best Pitcher Going tend to have short reigns and those that don't, like Justin Verlander in 2011, usually wind up with an MVP trophy to set next to whatever you are given for winning the Cy Young. If you are the type of baseball fan that reads this far down in this little column, you are quite well aware that Santana followed up his complete game shut-out against the AA squad dressed in Padres' uniforms by throwing the first no-hitter in Mets history. (Little piece of trivia: not only have the Padres never had anyone throw a no-hitter, they've never had anyone hit for the cycle. Try making roto-use of that information. I dare you). In proclaiming Santana the best in baseball, it feels more like June of 2004, not June of 2012. If you were brave enough to take a flyer on Santana as he recovered from shoulder surgery, you cannot be more pleased as to how his season has turned out. However, two things to be concerned about: 1) the 130+ pitches Santana threw last night can't help but take a toll on his next couple starts and 2) Santana has a no-trade clause which may keep him on the surprisingly spunky Mets through the end of the season instead of being swapped into a pennant race.
Santana's old team, the Minnesota Twins, are putting on a perfect example of life imitating art or in our case, actual baseball imitating fantasy baseball. There is no bigger recipe for roto-failure then spending most of your budget on two players who underperform and spend time on the disabled list (i.e. Mauer and Morneau), adding a front-line starter that completely implodes (i.e. Francisco Liriano) to a staff that comes nowhere close to living up to expectations (e.g. Carl Pavano and everyone else). Of course, the one bright spot would be the veteran that you weren't altogether that excited about getting (i.e. Josh Willingham) that ends up being your brightest star. It's always nice when you can see the same issues that trip up roto-owners do the same to actual owners. Makes what we are all doing seem that much more important.
Since this column takes a liberal view on promoting other ventures (tune in to Colton and the Wolfman, Tuesday nights from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio), you all might be interested to know that Schultz scribes Hitting The Trunk Road, a bi-weekly column that appears exclusively on the Hidden Track web site. Hidden Track covers rock music from classic to modern as well as the indie scene. They also have an article or two on Phish. It's one of the best music sites on the Web.”
Response: Quality analysis of the Johan situation. Maybe it is worth checking out whether Schultz knows music or Didley.