The question of whether Yu Darvish will sink or swim in the 2d half highlights this week’s Week That Was.
Before jumping into the baseball news, I just wanted to make sure you all know to tune into Colton and the Wolfman Tuesdays from 8-11pm eastern on SiriusXM (Sirius 210, XM 87). This week it is back to our baseball/football mix as we approach baseball’s dog days of August and the opening of football training camps.
Ok, now back to business . . . .
Yu Darvish: Yu Darvish was blasted for seven runs in 6 1/3 innings by the light hitting Mariners yesterday. Hardly a good beginning to the second half for the Ranger hurler. At this point in the season, Yu stands at a respectable 10-6 with a 3.96 ERA. The question is buy or sell? My answer: SELL. First, Texas is a miserable place to pitch in the summer. Second, Yu has never pitched through an entire MLB season. Third, everyone he faces from here on in has seen him, studied MLB film and will have a better idea how to attack. Fourth, 14 ER in the last 20 innings hardly inspires confidence (last two of those games versus Oak and Sea). SELL
Marco Estrada: Marco Estrada was mowing them down yesterday, registering 11 K’s against the Pirates. If you are looking for pitching in a deep NL league, Marco could be your man. His numbers as a starter in 2011 were much stronger than his overall stats would indicate. 66 K in 56.2 innings with a 1.04 WHIP this year says quality. 32 K in the last 17 innings says potential monster. He is not Bob Gibson but he makes a great addition. BUY.
B.J. Upton: B.J. Upton went yard to help the Rays beat the Sox Saturday. B.J., like his brother Justin, continues to confound. I honestly don’t know what Justin will do with all the trade talk, etc. However, I think B.J. is going to have a huge roto second half. First, he is playing for a contract and that motivates players who have a reputation for checking out at times. See Reyes, Jose. Second, Upton had a huge end of season surge last year and it looks like another is on the way. Yes, the .246 average is not pretty and it may not go much higher. However, he has averaged 17 HR and 40 SB over the last three years and there is every reason to think that power and speed will be on display in the second half. BUY.
Alcides Escobar: Alcides Escobar went yard twice Saturday to set the stage for a potentially strong 2nd half. Through Saturday, Escobar had a .311 average with four homers, 27 RBI and 13 stolen bases. It may be too early in his career to expect a major power breakout but the rest of the numbers are real. Escobar broke in at 22 and has been pigeonholed as a defense and speed guy before he even hit his prime age. Escobar is a major buy low target. After all, people forget he hit .304 in his first gig in Milwaukee at the tender age of 22.
Mark Buehrle: Mark Buehrle continued to excel Saturday, allowing just one run on six hits over seven innings while striking out seven. Flying under the radar is the fact that Buehrle has mowed down 7 or more in each of his last four outings. Thus far, he is giving the Fish their money’s worth with 9 wins, a 3.18 ERA and 73/18 K/BB ratio. Lefties who move from the AL to the NL tend to improve and strike out more than their AL benchmarks. Buehrle fits that bill and is a big time BUY.
Jason Hammel: Bad news for Oriole pitching continues as Jason Hammel is on the DL and looking at knee surgery. The replacement options are not appealing. Tommy Hunter has not been good since his surprising short run of success early in the season. Brian Matusz and Zach Britton have both been disappointments and do not seem ready to shine in the bigs. It looks like Joel Pineiro may get a shot. In any event, only those in the deepest of deep leagues should even think of rostering replacement Oriole pitching.
Mike Leake: Mike Leake looked strong again Saturday, allowing just two runs on seven hits in 6 innings. On the year, his 3.96 ERA and 1.27 WHIP are not too bad. However, that does not tell the full story. Leake has given up only 8 ER in his last 37 innings with a 21/3 K/BB ratio. Bottom line, the window on buying Leake at a discount is closing. Don’t get shut out.
I am going to stop here and turn it over to the Carlton the Doorman of Fantasy Sports -- Schultz says: “If there is anything I've learned over the years that I've been contributing to this column, it's that people like lists. Just like deli meats taste better between two slices of rye bread, information seems to be more easily digested and eagerly enjoyed when it is in list form. So, in that vein, The Week That Was is pleased to present the 2012 edition of the Mid-Season ALL-SCHULTZ AWARDS
The 2012 Jerry Springer Special Team. The trashy TV host (and former mayor of Cincinnati) loved to surprise his unwitting guests by bringing out cuckolded spouses, second girlfriends and long-lost siblings. If you had anyone on this team on your roster, you were as surprised as any one of Springer's guests, only less embarrassed.
C A.J. Pierzynski (CWS) Always a solid, non-threatening option at the catcher position, this year, AJP has been hitting at a torrid pace. With his next home run, he will equal his totals for the last two years combined.
1B Adam Dunn (CWS) After breaking into the AL with a .159 11 HR effort, expectations could not have been lower for 2012. The rare scenario where a hitter with 365 career home runs is a sleeper for surprising owners by hitting 26.
2B Jose Altuve (HOU) In 2011, the diminutive Astro who spawned a new measure of distance showed he was capable, but he didn't shows signs that he would be a steady .300 hitter with speed and a little pop.
SS Ian Desmond (WAS) After two mediocre seasons, the Nationals shortstop is finally living up to his potential. His 17 homers are already a career high and he will surpass all of his career bests with ease.
3B Todd Frazier (CIN) Not only were there no expectations for Frazier in 2012, there wasn't a spot for him in the lineup. With injuries to Scott Rolen and Drew Stubbs and the disappointment known as Chris Heisey, Frazier's 10 HR and .280 average are nice surprises.
OF Josh Reddick (OAK) Traded by Boston to the ball park where hitters go to fade into obscurity and become footnotes in Moneyball sequels, Reddick's 20 homers (and even his 8 steals) are sorely missed in Beantown.
OF Bryan LaHair (CHC) The poster boy for the Quad-A insult thrown around by pundits like your humble creator of lists, LaHair was one of the hottest hitters in baseball through May. He's cooled considerably (he can't hit lefties) but owners can't complain.
OF Mark Trumbo (LAA) It wasn't Trumbo's ability that rendered him a 2012 sleeper, it was the dearth of a spot for him to play. With the Angels spending spree seemingly freezing out Trumbo, they almost left 23 HR, 60 RBI and .308 on the bench in favor of Peter Bourjos and Vernon Wells.
SP R.A. Dickey (NYM) Anyone predicting that a 37-year-old journeyman that mastered a knuckler late in his career would be baseball's most dominant pitcher would likely have been doing so on a street corner while everyone avoided them. Yet, with a 12-1 record, 2.40 ERA, .93 WHIP and 123 Ks, that's exactly what happened.
RP Fernando Rodney (TB) There have been stretches of time in past years, where Rodney wouldn't be called upon if the game was anywhere in doubt. His 25 saves, .93 ERA and .75 WHIP are numbers you wouldn't even expect from the great Mariano.
The 2012 John Carter team. Such high hopes and such disastrous results.
C Carlos Santana (CLE) Since suffering a concussion in late May, the Indians budding superstar just hasn't been right at the plate. His 5 HR, 30 RBI are well off the pace from his breakout 2011 and he hasn't knocked one out of the park in two months.
1B Kevin Youkilis (BOS/CHW) You had to suspect things weren't going swimmingly when Bobby Valentine thought it was a good idea to question the commitment of baseball's most psychotic competitor. Between injuries and weak hitting, the Sox dumped him for Zach Stewart.
2B Rickie Weeks (MIL) The Brewers infielder usually disappoints by hurting himself. This year, it's by staying healthy and hitting .300 while exhibiting little power.
SS Jose Reyes (MIA) Last year's batting champion is engaging in the time honored tradition of signing a lucrative, long term contract and then taking the first year of it off. He hasn't been a disaster but he also hasn't played like the superstar he is being paid to be.
3B Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) Hitting .250 with 9 HR while battling a shoulder injury has left much to be desired about the Nationals third baseman that was supposed to make the leap to the level of Longoria.
OF Justin Upton (ARZ) One of the pre-season MVP candidates (that's why we play the games), Upton has been so affected by a thumb injury that there are now trade rumors swirling around the D'Backs once and future franchise player.
OF Desmond Jennings (TB) With a .227, 5 HR, 23 RBI stat line, his magical summer of 2011 is a distant memory and may turn out to be a statistical outlier.
OF Adrian Gonzalez (BOS) He just needs to be on this list somewhere, even if making him an outfielder is cheating a bit. His paltry 6 home runs and subpar (but now on the rise) batting average are even more anemic when set next to the stats put up by Big Papi.
SP Tim Lincecum (SF) Perhaps the 2 time Cy Young winner's unusual motion and slight build are starting to claim their toll on the Giants phenom. Whatever the cause, an ace putting up a 6.42 ERA with a 1.58 WHIP while pitching home games in a pitcher's park is an unmitigated disaster.
RP Jordan Walden (LAA) After a stellar rookie campaign, the closer for the thought-to-be indomitable new look Angels flamed out quicker than New Coke.
The 2012 Antiques Roadshow Team. These players were likely sitting on your league's waiver wire just waiting for someone to realize they had value.
C A.J. Ellis (LA) He's fallen off the Ichiro-like pace he set for himself over the first couple months of the season. Nonetheless, the career minor league has been remarkably consistent and offering fine numbers at a traditionally erratic position.
1B Anthony Rizzo (CHC) His disastrous stint from the Padres was quickly erased when the once-top prospect hit .365 with 4 home runs in his first two weeks back in the bigs. Chris Davis and his 14 home runs without hitting .200 also deserves mention here.
2B Kyle Seager (SEA) Cheating somewhat on eligibility to get him in here. Seager has been a rare bright spot amidst the Mariners' punchless lineup. He's pushed Chone Figgins to the wayside, slugged 10 homers and driven in an impressive 52 RBIs.
SS Trevor Plouffe (MIN) Trevor Plouffe has 19 home runs. You would not be incorrect to doubt that number even if you knew he had already hit 18. Plouffe's 2012 would be inconceivable and implausible if it wasn't actually happening.
3B Will Middlebrooks (BOS) The man that drove Kevin Youkilis to the Windy City. His 10 HR, 37 RBI and .291 average in his first 50 games bodes well for his future with the Sox.
OF Mike Trout (LAA) Unless you've been in a coma, you are well aware that the frontrunner for the AL MVP started the season in the minor leagues. His .344, 12 HR, 40 RBI and 28 steals while leading off is simply jaw-dropping. Vernon Wells meet Wally Pipp.
OF Bryce Harper (WAS) Another player you are intimately familiar with in the absence of the above-referenced coma. That Harper has talent isn't surprising. That's he's played this well as a 19-year-old rookie is somewhat expected. Plus, he does not suffer clowns.
OF Michael Brantley (CLE) Usually overlooked when discussing the Indians, the 25-year-old outfielder has quietly raked at a .293 clip, driven in 42 runs and swiped 10 bags. Fine numbers from someone almost universally undrafted in March.
SP Chris Capuano (LA) Even though he had a fair season with the Mets, there was nothing appealing about Capuano at the start of the season. Even when he started striking out batters at an above-average clip, it didn't seem sustainable. A 2.91 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 100 Ks from an afterthought is found money indeed.
RP Ernesto Frieri (LAA) The Angels literally stole the fire-throwing Frieri from the Padres. Of the 114 outs he has recorded, 63 have been by strikeout. He walks more people that can hit him but still retains a WHIP of 1.00 and an ERA of .71.
The 2012 She's All That Team. The wallflower takes off her glasses and to everyone's surprise, she's gorgeous. For this team, we can start the third act of the movie where they are overlooked no more.
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (BOS) His average still leaves much to be desired but in Boston, the Rangers reject has found a home for his power stroke. He could be a cheap source of 30 home runs for years to come.
1B Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) Joey Bats isn't the only masher north of the border. After years of flailing at the plate, Encarnacion has thrived since being moved off the hot corner. His 25 homers aren't a fluke.
2B Jason Kipnis (CLE) Just imagine Chase Utley with more speed. Barring injury, the standard-bearer for second base roto-production now resides in the 3-spot of the Indians lineup.
SS Jed Lowrie (HOU) Playing his first season as a National Leaguer and as an uninjured everyday starter hasn't helped Lowrie's average but it has allowed him to reach an unparalleled 14 homers in half a season.
3B Mike Moustakas (KC) Yet another of the Royals prospects coming into his own. Now that his power is coming around, he may eclipse Billy Butler and Alex Gordon as the most feared hitter in the Royals lineup.
OF Josh Willingham (MIN) Always a dependable and often underrated source of power, his average has risen in Minnesota and his 21 jacks and 63 RBIs are Morneau-like in scope.
OF Colby Rasmus (TOR) Freed from being tyrannized by Tony LaRussa, Rasmus' June looks to be the catalyst that will vault him from puzzling disappointment to self-actualized All Star. Hard to remember that he's still only 25.
OF Melky Cabrera (SF) Hard enough for Royals fans to watch Jonathan Sanchez do whatever he refers to as pitching, but watching the guy they traded for him take home the MVP of the All Star game was probably a bit much. His breakout season with the Royals wasn't a fluke.
SP Jason McDonald (PIT) Many have had their hair turn grey with frustration waiting for McDonald to become the pitcher he is right now. Finally, getting his pitches under control, he's now living up to the hype that surrounded his tenure with the Dodgers.
RP Chris Perez (CLE) Possessed with the fiery temperament of closer, Pure Rage has become one of baseball's more dependable closers. Since self-destructing on Opening Day (he came back from injury too soon), Perez rattled off 24 straight saves.
The 2012 #^%#$ Team. High roto-hopes were placed on these gentlemen to carry teams to the fertile valleys of fantasy nirvana. Their failure to remain on the field and off the disabled list has frustrated those dreams. If this list hits too close to home, my condolences.
C Wilson Ramos
1B Lance Berkman
2B Dustin Pedroia
SS Troy Tulowitzki
3B Evan Longoria
OF Matt Kemp
OF Jason Bay
OF Jacoby Ellsbury
SP Roy Halladay
RP Mariano Rivera”
Response: Great stuff if a bit irreverent. Nice work!