What do you get when you mix a 12-mph gust to center with Citzens Bank Park? Roughly 24 on 26 hits, including 7 HR and 2 grand slams.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
By all accounts, Cole Hamels is living the life.
The Phillies 6-foot-3 lefty was named World Series MVP last fall and since, then it's been a whirlwind of public appearances.
He also signed a 3-year, $20.5 million deal in January, some three years after marrying former Survivor legend Heidi Strobel, who along with Jenna Morasca, made a splash by taking off their clothes for some Oreos and Peanut Butter. Oh, yeah, that Heidi.
But things have been anything but paradise for Hamels this season. It started in spring training, when elbow soreness and inflammation required a cortisone shot on March 17 and cost him an opening day start.
Then, Hamels was rocked in his first two starts, leaving him with an 11.17 ERA and 2.17 WHIP. Thanks, a lot, fantasy owners grumbled, desperately trying to be patient with Hamels, who logged over 260 pitches in the Phillies' World Series run.
Then, came Thursday's outing in Milwaukee. Hamels was starting to look like Hamels again and fantasy owners were breathing a sigh of relief. Their third-round pick was not turning into a bust. Hamels breezed through the first three innings, striking out 6 of the first 9 batters he faced before giving up a 2-run HR to Milwaukee's Ryan Braun. No biggie.
Then, on the next pitch, Prince Fielders smacked a line drive that hit Hamels' left shoulder. Hamels doubled over and was immediately pulled from the game. All the team is saying is it's a shoulder contusion. As their Phillies announcers aptly put it, "Why don't they just say he was hit in the shoulder and is really sore and is going to ice and it and we'll see what happens."
Essentially, that's what a contusion can be translated as.
Good news for Hamels, is he's playing at home, so maybe he can get Heidi to help him ice it.
For those of you who don't know their story, Heidi and Cole met at a Clearwater Phillies game in 2004. Heidi was throwing out the first pitch and signing autographs, fulfilling her post-Survivor contract of traveling to 30-some baseball parks. The mild-mannered Cole, still a relatively unknown pitching prospect, got in line to get her autograph and asked her out.
Heidi had just moved back to Missouri from L.A. and jokingly told him, "unless you plan on flying to Missouri to take me out."
Two weeks later, Cole flew to Missouri for their first date and less than 3 years later, the couple married on New Year's Eve, 2006.
Their latest endeavor is to adopt an Aids orphan in Africa and possibly build a girls school in Malawi.
Monday, April 20, 2009
So, your pitching staff's taken a beating. There's more red DL marks than Red Cross.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Yeah, I know, they say things are bigger in Texas.
But that doesn't include the baseball parks.
If there was ever any doubt that the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was a fantasy baseball launching pad, Wednesday night's 19-6 slugfest proved you can never sleep on any Texas hitter.
(And you may want to Rip Van Winkle on each and every Texas hurler).
Exhibit A: Ian Kinsler (above)
All Kinsler did was hit for the cycle, on a 6-for-6 night with a HR, 4 RBI, 5 runs scored and a SB. Kinsler is batting .474 with 2 HR and 13 RBI.
Exhibit B: Nelson Cruz
Cruz went 2-for-5 with a grand slam, 6 RBI on the night, and now has 12 RBI for the season, one off Kinsler's team-leading mark.
Exhibit C: Marlon Byrd
Byrd was more than just the word. How's 5-for-6 with 3 RBI sound for a platoon outfielder? Byrd's hitting .417, which may give David Murphy and his owners more splinters and headaches than they had planned on.
Exhibit D: Andruw Jones
The former Braves/Dodgers flameout only had 1 hit, but walked twice and scored 4 runs, proving his worth in all AL-only leagues, even on the wrong side of a platoon.
I won't even go into the Rangers best two pure hitters (Michael Young and Josh Hamilton). Both were relatively quiet, although each stole a base early on when it was still a game.
Probably the most intriguing thing about Arlington on Wednesday was the wind was blowing in 14 MPH.
This place has long been a crackerjack box, where pitchers go to die. And now, with the emergence of Kinsler and Hamilton, the upcoming stars, including Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Elvis Andrus and steady cornerstones like Michael Young and Hank Blalock, the 2009 Rangers could easily lead the league in runs scored. As the summers heat up, the ball keeps flying further and further off the bats.
Hopefully your buddy isn't reading this. Not that it's top secret info, but the Rangers haven't had this promising a lineup in quite some time. Sure, there's no guarantee all their prospects will produce as advertised, but even at 70 percent, you might be looking a Texas team that plates 1,000 runs.
Get a piece of this pie while it's still affordable.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
FORT MILL, S.C. - On a soggy, bitterly cold night at the Castle, fantasy hype machine Matt Wieters broke out of a 1-for-11 hitting slump with a pair of sharp singles in Norfolk's 7-0 win over Charlotte on Monday night.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Man, if feels good to get that cliche in the books.
Texas Rangers SS Elvis Andrus hit his first career HR Wednesday night, tagging former Cleveland closer catastrophe Rafael Betancourt with a solo shot in the sixth inning.
How significant is this long ball (outside the nifty headline possibilities)?
Not very. Andrus won't approach double digits in dingers, even in Arlington, but it's important if you're an Elvis owner (and I'm not talking memorabilia), that the Michael Young Heir Apparent get off to a good start (and a .429 average easily qualifies) and not turn into the next "Hound Dog."
Not that the Rangers would change course if Andrus struggled, but a hot start validates the controversial move of Young to 3B, making that left side of the infield ... wait for it .... "All Shook Up."
Fantasy spin: While Andrus hasn't attempted a steal yet, it's just a matter of days as the defensive whiz has some major grease on those "Blue Suede Spikes, er, Shoes," swiping 53 bases in 482 Frisco at-bats. Andrus was caught 16 times, which probably translates to 35-40 bags in his rookie campaign to go along with a .280-ish average.
Combine that with a spot that's ahead of Ian Kinsler, Young and Josh Hamilton and there's an outside possibility a No. 9 hitter could break the 100-run barrier, which would be quite a rarity.
Don't have "Suspicious Minds," grab Elvis now, while he's still on your wire.
(I know, it's just awful)
The coffee is brewing in the other room. You can smell it.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Cliff Lee: The knee-jerk reaction is to say 2008 was simply a fluke. But it's still a little early. Lee was finally healthy and won the Cy Young. Today, he was awful, just like he has been all spring. Yeah, he gave up 10 hits and 7 runs in 5 IP, but this was Arlington. The wind was blowing out 12 mph. The jacks by Hank Blalock and Salty may have been park/wind dated. Still, I'm not feeling good as a Lee owner, but don't sell too low yet. Stash, if you can. Hold your breath if you can't. Remember Sabathia last year.
Atlanta smacked the World Champs, launching three bombs off Brett Myers and won 4-1 in Philly.
What's this all mean? Big whoop.
One game. And the Phillies were missing their ace, Cole Hamels. Sure, it's nice to beat the defending World Series Champions, but that's about it.
Unless you're playing fantasy.
Opening Day has always been a close second for fantasy goose bumps. If Draft Day is Christmas Eve, Opening Day is that first good present you find under the tree, after the socks and wall calendar have been open.
So, quickly (you've got games to watch today and lineups to set), a few things we learned in the past 24 hours:
1). Jordan Schafer (pictured above waltzing around the bases): Real Deal? We can't be sure yet, even after homering in his first MLB at-bat. The Braves new CF is definitely a nice prospect whose spring was so impressive, it forced Atlanta to trade Josh Anderson. Most-likely Schafer's a 15-15 guy, who unless he gets moved from the 8th spot, stays an NL-only guy for the most part. But keep tabs on his batting spot (a move to the No. 2 spot could turn him into mixed-league money). And actually, 18-12 might be more accurate when talking how high this Jordan can fly his rookie year. Think poor man's Hunter Pence. In a recession.
2). Derek Lowe: Pitched 8 innings of 2-hits, no walks with 4 Ks. Count me among Lowe's skeptics as he few off many draft boards in the top 10 rounds. Yes, it's just one outing, but after silencing the bats of Rollins, Utley, Howard and Co., you start to wonder if Lowe might be Lincecum minus 100 Ks this year. Doesn't sound great, until you realize that makes him a Top 10 SP. Not a great time to buy low, however. But it looks like a sound investment by both fantasy owners and the Braves' brass, who gave him 5 years and $60 million.
3. Jayson Werth: If you're looking for this year's Shane Victorino, look no further than the guy who is now hitting in S-Vic's batting spot. Maybe Charlie Manuel is still tinkering, but if Werth sticks as the No. 2 hitter and Victorino stays at No. 6, Werth owners may have struck fantasy gold. 30-30? I wouldn't bet the farm, but maybe a few of the cows. And he might be the cheapest fantasy player to do so. The Flyin' Hawaiian doesn't lose all value, as he'll probably steal from anywhere, but goodbye 110 runs and hello 65.
4. Jeff Francoeur: After getting totally hosed by Francoeur's demotion to AAA last summer, I've vowed never to spend Francs again. He'll probably be waiver wire cotton candy tomorrow, but how much do you trust a guy who hit .239 last year. Even if he did change his approach in the box. Might be a good sell-high if he has a good April.
5. Jeff Samardzija: One of the hardest names to spell in all of sports, Mr. N.D. was option to AAA Iowa and will be used as a starter down there, until the Cubs need him. Hello, this is Rich Harden calling. You might wait to put down money on a Des Moines apartment. See if you can get one of those classy rent-by-the-week hotels.
6. Justin Upton: He was on my radar, but was too pricey for my frugal blood at our auction draft and I'm starting to wonder about his value this year. Bob Melvin throwing everyone in the dessert for a loop, sitting Upton and Mark Reynolds in favor of Eric Byrnes and Tony Clark. There could be some major ABs by someone in the 'Zona OF, if Byrnes is really back. My guess is it'll be Upton early, then a little bit of everyone later. Until Byrnes re-injures the hammy. But on the bright side, he'll have more time for his XM show.
7. Josh Anderson: Mentioned earlier, as a Braves castoff. He's reportedly starting in left for the Tigers today. AL-only leaguers, listen up. If Anderson puts up, he could get a lion's share of LF duties, but his playing time is 70 percent speculation.
8. White Sox: Today's opener already snowed out. And people have to ask why I moved south from Illinois. They'll try again Tuesday.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Huston Street, one of the pieces in the November Matt Holliday trade, has beat out Manny Corpas as the Rockies closer.
No one will confuse Street with a pillar of health, but hey, he's got a closer job. For now, anyway. So scoop him up, if he's still out there.
Street's a 3.20 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, K-an-inning guy and if he can stay healthy, you may be looking at 35 saves. Just as likely though is an injury or struggles that moves Corpas into the Mile High role at some point. Stash Corpas, if you have a bench, or you're in an NL-only league.
Around the League: Gary Sheffield is talking to the Reds. Or at least answering a call from Dusty Baker. Seriously? This would seemingly throw a wrench into that whole "getting younger, sleeker, quicker" stump speech from Cincy's PR department. One thing hasn't changed: Dusty's love for the broken down veteran. ... Scott Baker, the Twinkies opening day starter, will now be eating twinkies as he starts the year on the DL. It's just stiffness in his right shoulder, folks, nothing too serious. Yet. Baker can come off April 12. ... Clemson's all-or-nothing free swinger Khalil Greene may end up be the Cardinals cleanup hitter vs. lefties, which means he's really impressing Tony LaRussa or Ryan Ludwick has officially jumped the shark ... Former Tar Heel LHP Andrew Miller won the fifth starters job with the Fish. Deep sleeper alert. NL-only leagues apply, but all leagues should keep one eye open, if Miller can ever tame that WHIP. ... Andruw Jones made the Rangers roster as the fifth OF (yawn). If he's owned in one percent of one percent of leagues, I'd be surprised. This could, however, affect Hank Blalock owners vs. lefties. ... Scott Podsednik, of one-time fantasy relevance, was cut by the Rockies. Raise your hand if you're a recovering Pods owner. Ahhh, yeah. Those were the days. Anyway, Pods says he can still play, but my guess is it's the end of the road for the one-category wonder. ... Back to the Arch, Troy Glaus is on the shelf for at least two months and maybe the All-Star break. David Freese (who obviously spells his name wrong) is the fill-in and hit .306 with 26 HR in 464 AAA at-bats. Even mixed-leaguers should monitor this deep Freese option (yes, I've heard them all).