Monday, August 31, 2009

Has Morales reached keeper status?

If you saw this coming, raise your hand.

Very few even drafted Angels 1B Kendry Morales, and those that did, like in our 10-team Observer league, dropped him after a slow start.

He was picked up, dropped, picked up. I've traded him away and back twice.

But after Friday night's 5-for-5, 2 HR, 6-RBI, I think it's as clear as it is that the Cubs are out of the playoff chase that Morales is a 2010 keeper.

I'll explain on the other side of this video (Kendry's 2nd HR on Friday):

Entering 2009, Morales had 12 HR in 377 at-bats. So far, he's belted 30 HR in 454 ABs.

Surprising? Hardly.

Anyone who's followed Morales' power-filled minor league career knew that he brought 30-HR and 130-RBI power (over 162 games). Those numbers don't always convey, but often times they need no translator.

What's separating Morales from a lot of other power guys is he's hitting .311 this year. With 94 RBI already, we're looking at a likely 36-HR, 115-RBI season with plus-.300 average.

That's nearly Miguel Cabrera-esque.

Morales is a career .337 minor league hitter, so a dropoff to the .270 range in future years seems as unlikely as Scott Kazmir regaining his 2007/2008 form and playing up to the $21 million the Angels will owe him after picking him up for prospects. (Kazmir does start his first game with the Angels on Wednesday and could be a little better with a change of scenery).

Back to the keeper question. Sure, 1B is a deep position. I still wouldn't rank Morales ahead of the big 7 (Pujols, Reynolds, Fielder, Howard, Cabrera, Teixeira, Morneau), but I think he's every bit as valuable as Youkilis, Gonzalez, Dunn, Pena, Lee or Martinez.

Morales is still young (just turned 26 in June) and could be a 40/120/.310 guy for years to come in what should be a potent Angels lineup for the foreseeable future.

Rarely does one night in baseball elevate a guy into the keeper ranks, but in this case, i'll take a front-row seat on the Morales bandwagon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tips on finishing the year, and one great catch

Welcome to the grind. Six weeks left in the season and you may find yourself toiling in the middle of the pack.

But now is not the time to pack it in. The guy one or two spots ahead of you might be turning his attention to football. How easy to look forward to a fresh start.

You, however, must stay hungry.

Just like the Cubs freshly called-up outfielder Sam Fuld, who was handed one start by coach Lou Piniella and he's playing so well, Piniella keeps sitting slumping Alfonso Soriano.

He's hungry. He wants it. Maximum effort. Hustling on the base paths. Battling each pitch at the plate.

And then there was this catch yesterday, one of the gutsiest plays of the season, risking his face just to catch a ball.

Let me give you three practical tips as we hit the home stretch.

1). Manage categories. This may seem like fantasy 101, but if you are so far out of it in power stats, don't keep picking up Hideki Matsui, trying to squeeze a few more HR and RBI when you can't realistically catch the next guy. If you can catch a handful of guys in speed, go grab the Rangers fleet-footed Julio Borbon.

2). Keep inventory on playing time. If you have borderline guys who are on teams that are out of the playoff race, it might be time to chuck 'em back into the waiver pile. Think the A's will keep giving Jack Cust at-bats, when they have all those young outfielders they'd like to take a look at? If you're still hoping Mike Jacobs gives you that late power, think again. The Royals likely have seen all they need of Jacobs and will be giving other prospects a cup of coffee. Likewise, if a team clinches a playoff spot, playing time might also become scarce (i.e. don't be afraid to sit Manny that final week if the Dodgers clinch).

3). Visit the stream room. It's not the most popular way to finish out a season, but you may be in a situation to start streaming starting pitchers, if the gains in Ks and Ws are greater than what you can (and will) lose in ERA/WHIP. Look at those specific categories right now and it might be time to use one or two of your SP spots as a revolving door. Take a look at the best options for the next day's pitchers and roll the dice on the best matchup. This doesn't always work, but it's a lot funner trying and failing than doing nothing. After all, half the fun of playing fantasy is having fun. So finish the year by having fun.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wright, Kuroda, Kinsler suffer head beanings

Two of the worst-looking head injuries in baseball happened on the same day Saturday.

Fortunately, both seem to be fine.

First, a 95-MPH fastball from the San Francisco Giants' Matt Cain got away from him, drilling Mets All-Star 3B David Wright in the head.

Wright was put on the DL with post-concussion symptoms after staying overnight in a Manhattan hotel.

Here's video. Queasy stomachs need not watch.

The second brutal head injury came when Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was smacked on the head by a scorching line drive off the bat of Diamondbacks' Rusty Ryal.

Kuroda laid on the ground for several minutes, clutching his head, but never losing consciousness. A CT scan revealed no fractures or bleeding. Reportedly the first thing Kuroda asked at the hospital was, translated, "did they catch the ball that went off my head?"

Here's a clip of Kuroda. Again, women and small children may want to pass.

Ian Kinsler was also drilled in the head, although it did not seem as severe (and there's no YouTube video ... yet). Kinsler shook it off and stayed in the game. Earlier he homered and stole a base.

Read more about the status of Kinsler, Wright and Kuroda here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Few good seats left for Peavy in Charlotte

There are very few times when a Cy Young winner will pitch at Knights Stadium. 

Thursday, however, Charlotte will be treated to 2007 Cy Young winner Jake Peavy making a rehab start against Pawtucket in Fort Mill. 

Game time is 7:15 p.m. and a few good seats remain although they're going quick.

Peavy, traded about 4 minutes before the trade deadline on July 31 from the Padres to the White Sox, has a 3.97 ERA, uncharacteristically high, although several of his starts came on a bad ankle.

Peavy strained a tendon in his ankle in late May and finally hit the shelf on June 9 after trying to be a warrior and pitch on in it a couple times. No dice.

As of 10 minutes ago, you could still get seats in the Field Box and Lower Reserve sections, although it was as far down the line as you can get. General Admission seats ($7) are also still available on the Knights web site

Another possible rehab start on Aug. 18 would be in Durham, if it's with the Knights.

Fantasy spin: A long-time fantasy stud, Peavy went 19-6 in 2007, striking out 240 batters with a 2.54 ERA. Hopefully, you've either traded Peavy for something valuable shortly after he went down, or you've stashed him on your bench. Look for a boost to your strikeouts and wins, along with mild help to your ERA/WHIP as Peavy now pitches in hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Park. Don't trade him now, unless you can get 70 cents on the dollar.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Upton on DL; Cruz next? Bay hamming it up

Just a couple quick injury updates to help you get through your weekend.

Justin Upton: Up 4-2 in the 9th on Wednesday, Upton tried stealing second and wouldn't you know it. The official diagnosis is straight right oblique muscle, but the AZ brass is hopeful Upton pops off the DL as soon as he's eligible.

Fantasy spin: Anytime a hitter with 20 HR and 16 bags, who hits in the heart of an order hits the shelf, the first trip to the waiver wire gives you the willies. D'Back reserve Alex Romero could be a decent fill-in for Upton. Another option that is Parra for the course (groan) is Gerardo Parra, who will give you the occasional steal or long ball, while racking up plenty of runs and a .280-ish average. If you need speed, take Lastings Milledge for a ride. Now, if power is your main need, your best bet is David Murphy, the best thing named Murphy since the bed, who's hitting third for the Rangers while Nelson Cruz likely goes on the DL (see below).

Nelson Cruz: If losing Upton hurts, losing Cruz may bring tears. It's not official that he's headed to the shelf, but Cruz couldn't even throw before Thursday's game because his sprained ankle was too tender. After a 25-HR, 17-SB season, this year's best offensive surprise not named Mark Reynolds has just screeched into a parking spot in the proverbial fantasy garage. The Rangers are trying to avoid the DL with Cruz, as they're still fighting for a playoff spot, but this weekend's looking like a no-go, so get ready for Plan B.

Jason Bay: Bay is likely out Friday and possibly longer as he is quoted on as saying he has "no idea how much time he'll miss" after injuring his right hamstring. Bay had slumped after a torrid start so a break might be perfect timing. Still, if you're in daily-move leagues, keep your ear to the ground on this one.

Jake Peavy: For those of you holding tight, keep squeezing. says Peavy could be making his White Sox debut on Aug. 28 in the Bronx against the Yankees. No pressure there.

Torii Hunter: One word you don't want to hear if you're a Torri owner. Setback. The strained muscle in his side is not healed properly and the rehab assignment has been scratched for now. The dream season is quickly turning nightmarish, if you've kept a lot of stock in the Angles CF.