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Category:MLB
Posted on: June 10, 2008 12:55 am
Edited on: June 10, 2008 12:56 am
 

3-7: What a disgrace

A 3-7 record. It hurts every time I look at it.

Don't get me wrong -- I've certainly done well and have a good chance of winning in several leagues this year, but this one is my mainstay, my bread-and-butter, the one I play with friends I know and love instead of just the grouches I work with.

I don't do 3-7 -- never ever. I can't say I always take the No. 1 seed into the playoffs, but I'm always right there, no more than half a step behind the leader. And of all times to sink so far, I do this now -- the same year Fantasy Baseball becomes not just a hobby, but a job. How can I live this down?

Fortunately, I've chosen my friends carefully. They'll let me fall to last place with dignity, saying everyone has a bad year now and then. They won't rub it in my face, calling me a disgrace to my profession or whatever other insult best fits the occasion. They certainly could, though, and perhaps they should.

I don't mean to say I've given up. I remain active on the trade front and the waiver wire, hoping some combination of moves will help my team over this hurdle. This league has a history of teams starting worse than 3-7 and still making the playoffs, but I obviously have an uphill battle to climb.

So to turn my failure into a lesson for us all, I've made a list of the top 10 reasons why I've done so poorly in this league. Then again, some might argue owning Lance Berkman, Chipper Jones and Milton Bradley should negate any excuses I make. A valid point.

Quick note: The league is a 10-team, mixed, Head-to-Head keeper league, with Alex Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Jimmy Rollins and Erik Bedard as my keepers.

1. Drafting Travis Hafner
Oof! Like a punch in the stomach, Hafner fell short of even my most pessimistic expectations, furthering last season's disappointment with two months of flat-out incompetence ... and then a shoulder injury. Even worse, I drafted him the sixth round. I wouldn't say he didn't concern me going into the season. He did, mostly because I didn't have an explanation for his struggles. But he still had a nice strikeout-to-walk ratio, and I figured the sixth round was a bargain for him -- especially since he usually went in the fifth round in my earlier drafts, most of which didn't even count walks or strikeouts.
2. Early-season struggles for Vladimir Guerrero
Going into the season, my one hitter who I felt gave me no cause for concern was Vlad. A staple of my team since I traded for him midway through 2003 -- his only injury-marred season, though some people would have you believe otherwise -- I could always count on Vlad for at least a .315 batting average and 30 home runs ... until this year. Hey, I've tried trading him. I couldn't find any takers who didn't want a steeply discounted rate. I see no choice with Guerrero but to wait and hope he improves, but my faith is rapidly diminishing.
3. Drafting Carlos Pena as my starting first baseman
Like Hafner, I didn't aim for Pena. I didn't end up with him in league after league after league. I didn't expect him to hit another 46 home runs, but I didn't think 35 sounded too optimistic. So on Draft Day in this league, I waited and waited for him to go off the board, nobody wanted him, and when Round 9 came, I figured he'd fallen in my lap as my starting first baseman. Lucky me. Granted, he didn't hit as many home runs as I thought he would before he got injured, but the few he did hit his 71 strikeouts quickly negated.
4. Drafting Rafael Soriano and Manny Corpas as my starting closers
In retrospect, I should have made sure one of my closers had a little more of a track record. To make matters worse, I drafted B.J. Ryan as my third closer but cut him to create roster space early in the season. Last year, I drafted Jose Valverde as my third closer and cut him early in the season too. Clearly, I don't know what I'm doing.
5. Early-season DL stints for Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins
And considering Erik Bedard also spent some time on the DL, I had a couple weeks where I got nothing from any of my keepers. Of course, A-Rod and Rollins have long since returned, playing just as well as they should, and I don't think I've won a game since.
6. Cutting Carlos Quentin in spring training
If drafting Hafner was like a punch in the stomach, cutting Quentin was like a kick in the groin. No, worse than that. It was like the removal of that whole area by someone with the time and patience to use a plastic knife instead of a surgeon's scalpel. I've made reference to this bonehead decision so many times. If I had drafted Quentin only this year, then I could live with cutting him as simply a bad move. But I drafted him in 2006 and stored him in one of my two minor-league slots for two years. Some marriages don't last that long.
7. Bad lineup decisions
I make these all the time. Actually, I've done pretty well in most leagues this season, but in this league, my bench comes dangerously to outscoring my starting lineup -- not good when it has only half as many players. For instance, just this last week, I started Jason Bergmann for the first time. He had come off four consecutive great starts, including his first career complete game last time out, and was facing the lowly Giants. What could go wrong? Whatever, man. I did everything I could.
8. Approaching the waiver wire too pitching-oriented
Ironically, I thought I loaded up so much on hitting in the draft that I played the waiver wire for pitching in the early weeks of the season, missing all the breakout players like Nate McLouth and whatever second chance I had at Quentin. Most of those pitchers became nothing more than matchups types, and I ended up trading my best arms to patch the holes left by Hafner and Pena.
9. Not drafting a quality third outfielder
I drafted Jermaine Dye as my third outfielder, which might sound pretty good to most of you out there. But keep in mind in a league this shallow, he barely makes the cut and certainly doesn't give me an edge at the position. Just another example of why shallow doesn't necessarily mean easier.
10. Trading for Brian Fuentes instead of B.J. Ryan
After Soriano and Corpas flopped, I had to make a deal unless I wanted to rely on Brian Wilson and C.J. Wilson all season. I traded the aforementioned Dye to a guy who had stashed away five closers. I could have asked for Ryan, but I went with Fuentes instead because the Blue Jays hadn't cleared Ryan to work on back-to-back days yet. As we all know, the Rockies went from being NL Champions to a bottom-of-the-division bust, and Fuentes' Fantasy appeal tanked as a result. I've since gone back to starting Brian Wilson.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: June 9, 2008 3:33 am
Edited on: June 9, 2008 3:37 am
 

Choo, Drew, Harang, Wood -- The Observations

Yes, it's the Jump-Right-in-without-Giving-a-Prop
er-Introduction edition of The Observations.

Joba Chamberlain almost reached the 80-pitch mark in his second start. Of course, as inefficiently as he uses them, 100 might barely get him through five innings.

In case you haven't noticed, Johnny Damon is batting .328 and making me wish I drafted him in a league or two this spring. Reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated.

All aboard the Shin-Soo Choo train. The 25-year-old had two more hits Sunday and is batting .333 since coming off the DL. He doesn't have serious power, but his OPS in the minors usually raised a few eyebrows. Don't forget about him in AL-only leagues.

B.J. Ryan ended his losing streak with his 13th save Sunday. If you wonder how a relief pitcher can have a losing streak, you obviously don't know just how bad he'd been.

Some power hitters break their wrists and never look the same. Vernon Wells breaks his and never looks better.

Since Aaron Harang couldn't make his poor record match his good pitching, he decided to make his good pitching match his poor record. He has a 9.15 ERA over his last four starts, better justifying his 2-9 record. That Harang ... always a problem solver.

Can I keep using this same line? For five home runs in five games, I can. Hanley Ramirez is back, baby, and better than before!

The 225-pounder made a race of it, but mediocrity has finally caught up to Jorge Campillo.

J.D. who? J.D. Drew. If you've forgotten about him, I can't blame you, but his .942 OPS thanks to his good hitting of late is David Ortiz-like.

Erik Bedard has gone five innings or less in three of his last four starts. If not for seven two-hit innings against the Red Sox on May 28, people might start mistaking him for Chuck James.

Barry Zito has the same record as Aaron Harang. That statement is confusing on so many levels.

I don't mean to alarm you, but Nate McLouth went hitless Sunday and has a .241 batting average in 29 June at-bats. Again, I don't mean to alarm you.

Nick Swisher is batting .280 with two home runs in 25 June at-bats. I do mean to excite you. I don't have crazy confidence in the guy or think of him as more than a .260 hitter with 25-homer potential, but if someone dropped him in one of my leagues, I'd pick him up just in case I'm wrong.

So all that prospect talk over Gavin Floyd wasn't just a bad dream? He has a 1.07 WHIP, people. Sounds legit to me.

I could get a lot more excited about an increasingly rare Vladimir Guerrero home run if it didn't accompany a 1-for-5 performance at the plate. If you own him, you have no choice but to exercise patience.

Speaking of former stud outfielders batting around .250, Carlos Beltran is 1-for-13 over his last three games. Two years ago, he and Vlad were first-round picks, no questions asked.

For as much as Texas has surprised me, I get so much of what they have. I get Josh Hamilton. I get Milton Bradley. I don't get David Murphy, but his home-run rate is getting better rather than worse. In kind of an out-of-body experience, I watched myself trade for the Alan Ruck look-alike in an AL-only league. Let my Cameron go.

With 18 saves, a 0.82 WHIP and a 10-appearance scoreless streak, time to face the music: When it comes to this closer stuff, Kerry Wood is awfully good.

That's all for now.
Posted on: June 7, 2008 10:03 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2008 10:09 pm
 

Time for a commercial break

Just finished my first Hitting Planner. It's probably not as fun to read as my Sliders column or even this blog, but you'll hopefully find some valuable information in there. Speaking frankly, I consider Emack's Pitching Planner a little more valuable, but I'll look to make improvements in the coming months. Suggestions are always welcome, though keep in mind time constraints might make some of them impossible.

Speaking of time constraints, they'll keep today's blog entry a little shorter than most, but I'll take a timeout to answer a couple quick trade questions I just received today. Yeah, you could call this entry a truncated version of Dear Mr. Fantasy, but at least I won't talk about any New York Yankees.

By the Numbers. Playing the Waiver Wire. There. I think I've named every baseball column we have.

Stockwatch!

Geez ... gotta love our Fantasy content, huh? And while I'm off on a tangent promoting our Fantasy content, why not promote our new Fantasy content site. I'm sure you've seen the ads for it -- you know, those creepy ones with all our faces lined up:

FantasyNews.CBSSports.com

Check it out if you haven't already. Or check it out again if you already have once. In fact, keep checking it out every day because, like any good content should, ours keeps refreshing.

All right, enough with the commercials. On to the questions ...

Would you trade Evan Longoria and Jonathan O. Sanchez for Albert Pujols? And the only reason I ask is because of Pujols' health.
-- John Anthony

I don't think anyone approached Pujols' elbow more cautiously than I did this spring, going so far as to say I wouldn't draft him in the first round -- and I'd still say that if the season started today -- but come on, Johnny. Pujols is obviously still a monster, enough that you have to bank on the likelihood he won't blow out in his elbow over the next four months. If I owned him now, I might shop him to see what I could get, but I also wouldn't hesitate to acquire him, especially for two players who, in standard mixed leagues, I'd consider fringe waiver fodder. (Yes, I call Longoria borderline rosterable -- not because he's bad, but because he's a rookie. When he can maintain a batting average over .280, we'll talk.)

I have been offered Alex Rodriguez and Derrek Lee for Nate McLouth, Justin Morneau and Adrian Beltre. What do you think?
-- Shawn (of the dead?)

Yeah, that sounds like the kind of deal I'd make, Shawn. I still think of A-Rod as the best player in Fantasy, and I'd probably prefer Lee to Morneau even though the former has slumped lately. As long as losing McLouth doesn't leave gaping chasm in your outfield, pull the trigger.

That's all for now.
Posted on: June 6, 2008 9:47 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2008 9:51 pm
 

What we kuh-now about Cano

I'm gonna do it again. I'm gonna devote a second straight blog entry to the discussion of one particular New York Yankee.

So call me a Yankee sympathizer or susceptible to East Coast bias or assign me any of long list of labels that don't at all consider where my loyalties lie. I got an e-mail that got me thinking, and when I start thinking, I generally write better. Go figure.

This one comes from someone named TBD Taylor, his parents obviously taking procrastination to a whole new level:

What is the deal with Robinson Cano? He is having a HORRIBLE start to the season. All I kept hearing was how this guy will win a batting title one day. Do players that contend for batting titles go into slumps like this? Players like Derek Jeter very rarely have back-to-back games without a hit. I think Cano is too undisciplined at the plate not to go into slumps often. His splits are all over the place. I know he will snap out of it, but he is killing my team. He doesn't produce when he is in, and I already have two other players on my team that can play second base. I am trying to trade him but getting no offers. Did somebody kill his dog or something? Should I not sell him now? Should I drop him? I know I should wait this out, but how can he suck for this long?

I actually included Cano in my Overvalued and Overrated column this spring, so to say every writer got together before the season, joining hands and singing Cano's praises in unison probably overstates it a bit. Of course, I didn't expect him to have a batting average of .222 this late in the season. I still won't predict him to have one lower than .300 by season's end, so to give you a short answer, TBD, I think you need to hang on to him.

Before I address any other parts of your question, I first need to remind you of Cano's splits last season. He hit .274 in the first half and .343 in the second half. So basically, you hit the nail on the head by calling him "too undisciplined at the plate not to go into slumps often." He does go into slumps -- long slumps -- and mostly due to his lack of selectivity at the plate, as evidenced by his 85 walks in 1,838 career at-bats.

But when he gets hot, he gets so hot that, despite his prolonged cold streaks, he manages to finish with a batting average on the right side of .300. In his first three full seasons, only once has he finished below .300, and even then he hit .297.

So before you panic, threatening to cut your early-round pick if you can't give him away in a trade over the next day or two, remember your own assessment of him. He is a streaky hitter, so you have to consider his start of the season nothing more than one of his incredibly long cold streaks. The good news is he's partially broken out. He hit .295 in May, after all, and last season, he didn't have a month during the first three where he hit higher than .279.

And considering his splits last season in conjunction with his start this season, we should probably start thinking of him as a second-half player, kind of like we do Nick Markakis and Mark Teixeira. Even in 2006, when Cano hit .342 overall, he had a 40-point discrepancy between his batting average in the first half and the second half (.325 to .365), making him streaky in a predictable way.

And predictable streakiness has its advantages over wall-to-wall consistency.

That's all for now.
Posted on: June 3, 2008 10:47 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2008 10:54 pm
 

Joba come lately

"The time to trade for Joba Chamberlain was a month ago."

That's what I told a friend of mine dying to get his hands on the Yankees' latest headline hog before his first major-league start Tuesday. And you probably understand my reasoning without me explaining it to you. Going into his first start, because of his success out of the bullpen, people expected him to become an immediate ace, his low-2.00 ERA and near-100 mph fastball translating from stints of the one-inning variety to the six-inning variety.

It doesn't work that way.

But because of public perception, because all the people who owned Chamberlain in Fantasy acted like they had just won the lottery, his price tag far exceeded his likelihood of success. To acquire him before his first start, you simply had to give up too much for a pitcher who might prove totally useless.

And what happened in that first start? Chamberlain reached his 60-pitch limit in 2 1/3 innings, laboring between four walks. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- on one hit and recorded three strikeouts. A disastrous line? No, but certainly nothing useful in Fantasy.

So hopefully, you didn't pay the unreasonable price tag for Chamberlain on Tuesday afternoon. Hopefully, you had more patience than to trade for him right then.

Yes, I emphasize "right then" because I'm going to change courses a bit. If you really want Chamberlain, you might have one last chance to trade for him -- now. I predict Chamberlain's Fantasy owners -- at least a certain percentage of them -- will jump completely off the bandwagon after this first start. They'll realize now they don't have an immediate ace and might decide they have neither the time nor the patience to put into a project with boom-or-bust potential.

If his Fantasy value reverts back to its condition when he worked out of the bullpen, meaning it relies on the patience and faith of his owner, then that owner might have had enough by now and want to make Chamberlain someone else's problem. And if you have an open roster spot and can catch a Chamberlain owner looking to jump ship while he still can, you might end up with a bargain.

But I need to attach this warning: For Chamberlain to end up a bargain, you can't pay too much for him. Remember, he might never find consistency in the rotation and end up on the waiver wire in most leagues by August. Don't pay more for him than he deserves.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: June 2, 2008 10:57 pm
 

Do no harm

Another day, another e-mail followed by a stirring rant ...

I feel like I have better hitting than pitching. I put Albert Pujols on the trading block, not because of concerns over his elbow but because I was hoping to snag a monster pitcher in return. I was offered Cliff Lee straight up and turned it down. Instead, I countered with Pujols and Justin Verlander for Justin Morneau and Brandon Webb. His counter was Morneau, Lee and Brian Roberts for Pujols and Ian Kinsler. I don't want an extra player, so I wouldn't even ask for Roberts.

Am I crazy not to be completely sold on Lee? Am I being too stubborn and asking for too much, or should I see Lee and Morneau for Pujols and Kinsler as a good trade? Though I think Kinsler is playing like a top-three second baseman, no one else seems to think so because I can't get a good offer on a trade for him. What do you think?  Would I be crazy to ask for Cole Hamels instead of Lee, or is that even a good idea?

Cheers from Australia,
(I live in South Jersey, though, just studying abroad. Go Phils!),
Eric


---

No, no, no, no, NO! Please, Eric. No. Step away from the vehicle.

You are not crazy. You are not stubborn. You are doing everything right except for seriously considering this embarrassment of a proposal. Your opponents are tight-fisting you, and you've let their unreasonable expectations cloud your otherwise passable judgment.

In trading Pujols, you're trading arguably the best player in Fantasy Baseball. Only Alex Rodriguez, Lance Berkman, Chase Utley, David Wright and Hanley Ramirez would give him a run for his money, and if we started the season over tomorrow -- without any fear of his elbow injury, because you say you have none -- I'd still probably take Pujols. Don't forget it. Don't ever, ever forget it.

If you really think you need pitching, and I'd argue you probably don't -- not in a shallow Rotisserie league, where you can usually fashion a functional staff on waiver fodder alone -- don't settle for anything less than a tried-and-true ace in exchange for the best player in Fantasy Baseball. Don't settle for less than Webb. None of the other pitchers you mentioned even comes close to the value of Pujols. Even for Hamels, your opponent might have to throw in Morneau and go two-for-one.

And Lee? Really, Lee? No doubt, I respect everything he's done to this point, but nothing in his track record suggests he'll maintain even close to this pace. Even if he betters his career bests across the board, I still wouldn't trade Kinsler straight up for him, much less Pujols. Again, you have the accurate assessment of Kinsler's value, not your opponents.

You say your team is thriving? Then why push it? Why trade one of your most instrumental cogs just because you detect a slight chink in your armor? I could understand if you had a desperate need, were falling totally out of the race, and stood no chance of competing this season unless you made a significant change. But don't make a trade just to make one.

Think of yourself as a doctor and your Fantasy team as your patient. You want a healthy patient, and to get one, sometimes you have to get your hand in there and rearrange a few things. So do make adjustments. Do make changes. Do what you need to do to make the patient better. But above all else, do no harm -- particularly if your patient is already sitting up on the operating table, smiling and winking at you.

And there you have it. It took a few entries, but I finally referenced an episode of Lost by title. It's a good one. Go see it.

... But only if you've seen all the other ones preceding it.

That's all for now.
Posted on: June 1, 2008 9:17 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2008 9:23 pm
 

When the blog bites ... oh, and slumping sluggers

I wrote a really great blog. It was awesome. The best.

But it disappeared -- I don't know why. As I was nearing the end, I switched windows to look up a stat, and when I went back, nothing.

My day in the office just got a whole lot less productive.

So forgive me, but I have to give you an abridged version of what I wrote earlier. I've thrown my private little tantrum and decided I have no choice but to move on. Too many of this afternoon's games demand my attention, and I already had to work deep into the night Friday and Saturday. I'm not complaining, of course, just looking out for my health (and avoiding over-the-phone scoldings from my mother, God love her).

Anyway, this blog deals with six slumping sluggers and if they'll ever get on track. You should know I wrote a cute little intro in the original version. I don't remember it now, but you would have liked it.

Vladimir Guerrero (Last year's stats: .324-27-125-89-2; On pace for: .253-19-75-71-2)
No player more consistently hits .300 with 30 home runs than Vlad does -- he's done it in eight of the last 10 seasons and just missed in the other two. Some point to his decreased line-drive rate as a cause for concern, but my immediate, highly uninformed, totally on-the-surface analysis believes that particular stat reveals more about the effect of a slump than the cause. Maybe I should ask Al Melchior. Expect a hot streak soon that returns Guerrero's numbers to their career norms.

Carlos Beltran (Last year's stats: .276-33-112-93-23; On pace for: .263-15-99-118-21)
Unlike Guerrero, Beltran is the antithesis of consistency, his home runs ranging from 16 to 41 in his three seasons with the Mets (I remembered that off the top of my head -- no flipping to stat pages this time). His batting average, RBI, runs scored and stolen bases look more or less in line with his career norms, so his struggles stem totally from those rangy home runs. His 16 in 2005 look like a fluke, considering he had at least 30 in the other three of his last four seasons, but if it happened once, it could always happen again. The law of averages says more of Beltran's batted balls have to start flying out of the park soon, but his offseason knee surgery, one similar to Jason Bay's last offseason, concerns me a little. If he rebounds to hit 25, you have to feel pretty good in Fantasy.

Prince Fielder (Last year's stats: .288-50-119-109-2; On pace for: .274-23-85-73-0)
Fielder won't hit 50 home runs this season, and if he follows in his father's footsteps, he won't ever again, his slugging percentage decreasing with the increasing length of his belt. But when Fielder took steps this offseason to ensure his career unfolded differently, becoming a vegetarian, people turned his initiative against him, blaming his lack of home runs on a lack of red meat. I still don't buy that line of thinking. Fielder will up his power numbers soon -- he has two home runs in his last two games -- and while he won't finish with 50, he'll assume a pace that puts him in the 35-40 range.

Alex Rios
(Last year's stats: .297-24-85-114-17; On pace for: .262-8-65-82-34)
As surely as I stand here (keep in mind I'm sitting in front of a computer), Rios will hit more than eight home runs. So he had only two in May. Big deal. He had only two in August and September too. Just because he doesn't have consistent power doesn't mean he doesn't have power. He also has a .299 batting average over the last two seasons -- didn't have to calculate that this time -- so a turn for the better is coming. If you own Rios in Fantasy, I recommend you hang on to him, enjoy his increased stolen bases and wait for his other numbers to follow suit. Because they will, and when they do, you want him on your Fantasy team.

Miguel Cabrera (Last year's stats: .320-34-119-91-2; On pace for: .277-23-91-73-2)
Cabrera has undergone a change in city, a change in team, a change in league, a change in position and a change in expectations. That's a lot for a 25-year-old (says the 24-year-old throwing tantrums over lost blog entries). He probably got comfortable in Florida, playing the role of low-key superstar in a low-key environment. Remember, he didn't join the Marlins until late in their 2003 World Series run, and when they contended for a playoff berth in 2006, nobody expected them too. Different story in Detroit. I don't mean to suggest Cabrera can't handle pressure or come through in the clutch -- I don't even really believe in such things -- but he's had to make an adjustment, and that adjustment has come rather slowly. I have more faith in a rebound for Cabrera than anyone else on this list.

Paul Konerko (Last year's stats: .259-31-90-71-0; On pace for: .204-17-70-55-2)
Konerko is now 32 and by and large regressed last season. But he still topped 30 home runs, as he has in each of the last four seasons. He had a dreadful April and May last season too, batting .237 with seven home runs, but he doesn't have a particularly long history of slow starts. He also has a nagging hand injury holding him back even more this year. With all those factors working against him, he'll likely fall just short of 30 home runs, and I can't imagine him hitting well above .250. Those numbers still represent a dramatic improvement over current pace, so if you sell now, you sell low.

That's all for now, except for a final note to myself: ALWAYS WORK OUT OF A WORD PROCESSOR!
Category: MLB
Posted on: June 1, 2008 3:23 am
Edited on: June 1, 2008 5:28 am
 

Ross, Ellsbury, Torres, Floyd -- The Observations

Saturday is a day of observation -- so much so that I often have more than one.

Yes, it's the I-better-do-this-now-so-I-don't-have-to-do-it-at-home edition of The Observations.

Glendon Rusch allowed five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, and I think it actually impressed the Rockies. Cheer up, Jorge De La Rosa. You could be Steve Trachsel.

Coors Field has nothing on Wrigley with the wind blowing out. Either that or Todd Helton got really strong over the weekend.

With two more hits Saturday, the long forgotten Jerry Hairston is now batting .344, including .405 over his last eight games. He's like Jeff Keppinger, only with speed, and clearly deserves a look in all Rotisserie leagues.

Jay Bruce ... what a drama queen.

Josh Banks' shutout would impress me a lot more if it didn't happen at San Francisco ... or if he didn't have a 4.63 ERA at Triple-A last year ... or 5.18 the year before. Yeah, leave him for NL-only leagues.

Don't worry about Grant Balfour swiping too many saves in Tampa Bay. Dan Wheeler allowed two baserunners at the beginning of the inning -- spun his tires, if you will -- forcing the Rays to play lefty-righty the rest of the way. He's still the go-to guy with Troy Percival sidelined.

Scott Kazmir, welcome to acedom. The left-hander has allowed two earned runs in his last 33 innings. I couldn't be more pleased.

Cliff Floyd might not bat against left-handers, but he has three home runs in his last four games, and his .899 OPS has me scared to walk alone at night. And yet he's owned in only five percent of leagues. AL-only owners, if you have a void, don't hesitate to fill it with Floyd. (It's a jingle, you see.)

Over the last three games, Jacoby Ellsbury has reached base seven times and stolen seven bases. Whoa.

Salomon Torres has racked up three saves already in Fantasy Week 9, and Eric Gagne had a good rate of opportunities, if not conversions. With the Brewers hardly counting down the days until Gagne returns, Torres deserves more of a look in Fantasy than he's gotten.

Ben Sheets nearly got his third complete game in only his 11th start. It's like the Brewers want him to get hurt.

Granted, he didn't have enough at-bats to qualify, but Cody Ross' .653 slugging percentage last year ranked second to no one. Yes, Cody Ross -- that 5-foot-9 reserve outfielder for the Marlins -- ahead of Alex Rodriguez, Prince Fielder and Matt Holliday. And now he has six home runs in his last eight games. I'm just saying.

Ricky Nolasco began the year so poorly you probably forgot about him, but he has a 2.76 ERA over his last five starts. Time to remember.

With two more home runs Saturday, Mark Reynolds has four in his last eight games. The race to the waiver wire is on for the streakiest player in baseball this side of Jack Cust ... or Michael Tucker. Remember him? Man ...

C.C. Sabathia and Jason Bergmann, welcome to the Roy Halladay club.

That's all for now.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com