Archive for May, 2008

The Scoop

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

By Dalton Del Don

After tearing the cover off the ball during spring training, it’s safe to say Lastings Milledge hasn’t lived up to the hype so far this season. However, that’s changed recently, as he has two homers and five steals over the past eight games. He’s also improved his contact rate (.81), so there are some signs of progress. Still, he’s been a pretty big liability for the Nationals thus far.

It’s probably not a coincidence Aaron Harang’s worst start of the year on Thursday came just four days after he pitched four innings of relief. His velocity was way down, but hopefully this was just a short-term thing.

I’m more Dr. Van Nostrand than I am James Andrews, but Ryan Church’s prognosis doesn’t sound too good to me.

Despite his affinity of the long ball, I’m starting to like Kevin Slowey more and more. He’s still likely to remain homer-prone, but with excellent command, they are often solo shots, so he should have a strong WHIP regardless. His stuff isn’t overpowering, but his minor league track record is impressive, and remember, he posted a ridiculous 28:2 K:BB ratio last September.

Nice to see Fernando Tatis back in the league. This is the guy who once hit two grand slams in one game. In the same inning! Off the same pitcher!

If health weren’t such an issue, I’d treat Scott Kazmir as a top-5 starter. He’s such an injury risk, I won’t go overboard recommending him, but health is the only thing standing in his way of becoming a monster fantasy pitcher. After the All-Star break last season, he posted a 2.39 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and a ridiculous 124 strikeouts over 94.1 innings. Even with subpar control (10 walks in 30 innings), Kazmir has a 0.97 WHIP so far in 2008. He’s pretty much unhittable.

There might be some awkward times ahead in Arizona if Doug Davis and Max Scherzer continue to pitch like they are supposed to.

For everyone using the absolutely ridiculous argument that Joba Chamberlain should stay in the bullpen because Kyle Farnsworth sucks, may I ask, what’s wrong with Edwar Ramirez in a setup role? His ERA was terrible during 21 major league innings last year, but that came with 31 strikeouts, and he’s been dominant in 2008. In 190.2 minor league innings during his career, he has 237 strikeouts, a 2.83 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. Sure, he’s not a fireballer, but his changeup is filthy.

Speaking of Joba Chamberlain, where would you rank him as a starter right now? I’m personally pretty high on him, but it’s not going to be easy developing a third pitch (a changeup) in the majors.

With his previous lack of strikeouts, it appeared Jose Contreras’ bounce back year was largely due to luck and his low BABIP. However, after racking up 10 Ks during his last start, he now has a 14:0 K:BB ratio over the past two outings. He’s obviously going to regress from his current 3.06 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, but it looks like his career isn’t finished after all. And to think, he might be 50 years old for all we know.

The Scoop

Monday, May 26th, 2008

By Dalton Del Don

Andrew Miller has a tough upcoming schedule, but he’s someone who has to be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues, despite an ugly ERA (5.33) and WHIP (1.66). Over his last three starts, he’s posted a 22:5 K:BB ratio and has issued more than two walks in just one of his last seven outings. Some inconsistency with control is likely to still pop up from time to time, but Miller keeps the ball on the ground and is tough to homer off. His .378 BABIP is bound to come down, as is his ERA and WHIP.

What has gotten into Dan Uggla? During 22 games in May, he has 12 HRs, 26 runs scored, 25 RBI and a 1.000 slugging percentage. He’s always had a knack for racking up runs and RBI despite low OBPs, and at age 28, a career-year is almost certainly in store. Still, his contact rate (.71) is actually worse than his career level (.77), as is his BABIP (.369 vs. .299). He’s someone you should be trying to sell-high.

Clayton Kershaw is without question the best pitching prospect in baseball, with a fastball that reaches 97 mph and a curve that drops all the way to 72 mph. However, it’s good to remember he just turned 20 years old last week, and since he’s already thrown 50 innings this season, he’s probably only going to be allowed to toss around 100-120 more in 2008. Additionally, he averaged just 4.8 innings per start in Double-A this year due to control problems (he threw six wild pitches during nine starts). That said, he’s extremely difficult to hit, so No. 1 waiver priorities have to be used on his upside.

With a .770 OPS, James Loney has been a disappointment in 2008. Still, he’s a guy I’d be trying to buy-low, as it’s only a matter of time until he starts raking. His contact rate (.85) is solid, and most of his struggles have come against southpaws, whom he hit .319 against during 94 at-bats last season. Go get him.

Over the past week, there have been at least six erroneous home run calls.

I admit, I undervalued James Shields entering the year. His K:BB ratio was extremely impressive in 2007, but with such a lucky schedule (five starts against the Orioles, four combined versus the Yankees and Red Sox) and pitching in a tough AL East, I figured some regression was likely. Instead, he’s continued to impress, and now his ERA is matching his component stats. It’s a small sample size that might ultimately mean nothing, but it’s worth noting he’s sporting some extreme splits so far – 1.75 ERA, 0.80 WHIP at home, 6.04 ERA, 1.69 WHIP on the road.

If an outfielder or infielder loses the ball in the lights/sun and it drops in without him touching it, that’s an error – I don’t care what the rulebook says.

With a .283/.421/.602 line, Pat Burrell is having an MVP-type season. Finally over his past health problems and playing for a contract, it’s safe to assume a career-season is in store. He’s always had this type of potential, so unless you get a star in return, might as well hold onto him and enjoy the ride. He’ll never hit better than .280, but 35 homers and 115 RBI are well within reach. And to think, he was getting benched versus righties at one point last season.

Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe, Garrett Atkins and Clint Barmes? It’s safe to say the Rockies are having some injury problems. Scott Podsednik and Seth Smith need to be owned in all deep and/or NL-only leagues.

Over his last five starts, Ben Sheets has a 29:1 K:BB ratio.

Carlos Quentin is on pace to finish with a .301 BA, 46 HRs, 142 RBI, 116 runs and 13 steals. You don’t need me to tell you he’s going to decline some, but Quentin is also showing the best plate discipline of his career and plays in the American League’s best park for power hitters. This talent is for real – his 2007 was ruined by a shoulder injury. Can you imagine the Diamondbacks if they didn’t give up on him so soon?

In RotoWire’s Staff Keeper League, Albert Pujols was just traded for Dana Eveland and Jose Vidro. Not to call out this specific owner or even go over this particular deal, but I wanted to use it to highlight just how much better it is to play in redraft leagues. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some added strategy to keeper formats, and I like the fact you can become even more attached to your players over a longer period of time. However, more often than not, trades like this one occur, so unless you’re willing to sell out for one year, you’re either rebuilding or guaranteed to finish behind some powerhouse who traded a minor leaguer for a top-5 talent before even June arrived. Moreover, yearly leagues are better because of the actual draft/auction process, which is the best part anyway.

Take Your Pick

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Current season stats notwithstanding, whom would you rather have from this point forward?

Josh Hamilton or Alfonso Soriano?

Take Your Pick

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Current season stats notwithstanding, whom would you rather have from this point forward?

Brandon Webb or Johan Santana?

Take Your Pick

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Current season stats notwithstanding, whom would you rather have from this point forward?

Coors Light or Bud Light?

Take Your Pick

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Current season stats notwithstanding, whom would you rather have from this point forward?

Lance Berkman or Ryan Braun?

Take Your Pick

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Current season stats notwithstanding, whom would you rather have from this point forward?

Xbox 360 or PS3 or Wii?

Take Your Pick

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Current season stats notwithstanding, whom would you rather have from this point forward?

David Wright or Albert Pujols?

The Scoop

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

By Dalton Del Don

Other than players who rack up steals, is there anyone with a bigger disconnect between real life value and fantasy value than Carlos Lee? Don’t get me wrong, he’s an asset to the Astros, but when you combine his poor defense with his career .840 OPS, his real life value falls well short of his status in the fantasy community. The guy has never had even a .370 OBP or a .550 slugging percentage in any season during his career.

Jack Cust is about the streakiest hitter in major league baseball, so hopefully his recent two-homer game is a sign of big things to come. And speaking of discrepancies, his .254 batting average and .426 on-base percentage is pretty remarkable. He’s produced one of the game’s three true outcomes in a ridiculous 53 percent of his plate appearances in 2008.

You know how everyone refers to the National League as the “minors” and so inferior to the AL? Well, an interesting thing is happening. The top-9 leaders in OPS this season all play in the Senior Circuit. Additionally, the Cubs lead all of baseball in runs scored.

Josh Hamilton is on pace to finish the season with 40 homers and 175 RBI. Only health can stop him from being a clear-cut first round pick in fantasy leagues next year. The Edinson Volquez for Hamilton trade has turned out to be an absolute blockbuster.

I don’t understand the apparent confusion among the media regarding Joba Chamberlain this season. The plan was crystal clear from the very beginning – pitch in relief the first two months, get stretched out and move into the starting rotation for the second half of the season. Obviously, he’s most valuable as a starter, and limiting him to 150-160 innings this season was the right way to go after throwing around 120 last year. That way, it won’t be such an extreme jump to 200-220 when he starts the season in that role in 2009. And I don’t care how poor the rest of New York’s bullpen is; they’ll have a much easier time trading for a setup man than a dominant starter.

If you haven’t seen the TV show “Strangers With Candy,” go rent the DVDs. There isn’t a more underrated comedy.

Anyone who just turned 22 years old last month can’t be expected to be an immediate star, but Billy Butler’s utter lack of power is a little disappointing. He’s shown improved plate discipline, but a .348 slugging percentage isn’t going to cut it. He now sports a .594 OPS during 119 career at-bats versus right-handers. Still, he’s going to be a good one. Eventually.

Pretty scary play when Albert Pujols’ liner hit Chris Young right on the beak Wednesday night, changing his jersey color to red in the process. If he’s not 6-10, the ball is in center field.

Anyone still holding out hope Joe Mauer starts developing more power hasn’t watched his approach at the plate this season. I’d be shocked if he hit more than 10 homers. Such a shame.

I don’t get why everyone views Willie Parker as a better fantasy property than Rashard Mendenhall in 2008. Parker averaged 4.1 YPC last year, doesn’t catch the ball and is coming off a fractured fibula. Mendenhall, meanwhile, is already both the superior blocker and option at the goal line. Parker may very well still see the majority of carries between the 20s, but Pittsburgh had more than 500 rushing attempts last year, so there’s plenty to go around. Mendenhall seems like a no-brainer to me.

Have you ever met anyone who was actually against instant replay in baseball? I certainly haven’t.

For Austin Kearns’ sake, let’s hope his elbow has been bothering him all season and has been a big contributor to his pathetic .267 slugging percentage. Hopefully, he can return in a month and resemble an average player, but I’m not holding my breath. The Nationals outfielders are batting a combined .200 with six homers on the year, putting them on pace to finish as the worst unit in the history of major league baseball.

It’s ironic that the two players who have played in the second most games this year are Bobby Crosby and Troy Glaus.

The Scoop

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

By Dalton Del Don

Ryan Howard is on pace to strike out a shocking 234 times this season, which would shatter the MLB-record he already holds. He’s still an excellent buy-low option, as his current .231 BABIP is well below his career level (.353). And as for real baseball, strikeouts are often overstated in how much worse they are than any other out.

Speaking of strikeouts, Mark Reynolds is batting just .212/.305/.231 during 52 at-bats in May. He hasn’t homered since April 25. He’s still likely established himself as the team’s No. 1 option at third base for the most part, but he’s picked a bad time to slump with Chad Tracy’s imminent return. That situation could easily turn into a timeshare. And fast.

Where has Alex Rios’ power gone? The nine steals are plenty helpful in fantasy leagues, but he hasn’t left the yard since May 1, leaving him on pace to finish the season with just 10 long balls. At age 27, Rios should be entering his physical prime, but a .376 slugging percentage won’t get it done. When you consider he slugged just .369 last September and hit only four home runs over his final 245 at-bats last season, there’s at least some cause for concern. And to think, the Giants actually entertained dealing Tim Lincecum for him.

If only for the sake of my LABR team, can someone please give Dallas McPherson a chance? He strikes out too much to be a big on-base guy, but his power is legit. A recent three-homer game has left him with a season line of .297/.396/.659 with 15 bombs in just 138 Triple-A at-bats. Admittedly, he’s playing in a terrific environment for hitters, but I find it hard to believe a 27-year-old left-handed hitting third baseman with this kind of power can’t help a major league team. I’m talking to you, Sabean.

Has there ever been a clearer example of addition by subtraction regarding Andruw Jones’ injury?

Since I had Spurs over Celtics as my preseason NBA Finals prediction, I might as well stay the course with the Conference Finals. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if either team lost. And how about the Bulls getting the No. 1 pick in the draft? Who do they take there? This makes Mike D’Antoni’s foolish decision to coach the Knicks instead of the Bulls look even worse. That is, until LeBron goes to NY in a couple of years.

I’m completely unconcerned with Miguel Cabrera’s lackluster start at the plate. Some are worried he’ll become too complacent after signing a long-term deal, but a new set of pitchers in the American League probably has more to do with the slow start. His current .303 BABIP is well below his career level (.358). He needs to be treated like a top-8 player during trade talks.

Farewell Mike Piazza. Your 1997 season – .362, 40 HRs, 124 RBI, 104 runs, 5 SBs – has to be considered one of the most valuable in the history of fantasy baseball.

It might be obvious, but Clint Barmes is someone to sell-high right now. There’s plenty to talk up – his extremely hot start, Coors Field, his 2005 season. However, this is someone with a career .753 OPS in the minors and has been caught stealing on 50 of his 147 attempts. Hitting atop the Rockies’ lineup in that ballpark might lead to a solid middle infielder all year long, but with a .386 BABIP, it’s safe to assume his value is peaking.

Free Andy LaRoche! I think his current .300/.506/.560 line at Triple-A proves he’s sufficiently recovered from the fluke thumb injury he suffered during spring training. Problem is, Blake DeWitt is playing out of his head. In the end, it’s a good problem for the Dodgers to have, but at some point, LaRoche needs to get a chance in Los Angeles.

Fantasy Phenoms

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

“Greener on the Other Side” has changed to Fantasy Phenoms. Brett Greenfield knows his stuff, so check it out.

The Scoop

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

By Dalton Del Don

Over the last two days, David Ortiz is 5-for-10 with three walks, three homers, five runs scored and eight RBI. He’s going to sit a little more frequently this season because of the balky knee, but any chance of buying low has officially dissipated. Despite the horrifically slow start, he’s still on pace to finish with 35 HRs and 130 RBI.

Sunday’s matchup between Cliff Lee and Edinson Volquez featured the lowest combined ERAs of two starters in MLB history (through at least seven starts). Additionally, Volquez entered Sunday having started the season with eight straight games allowing one earned run or fewer, tying a major league record. All those walks will catch up to him eventually, but he’s one of the toughest pitchers to hit in the game. Imagine if he ever becomes more than a two-pitch pitcher.

I’m not ready to call Howie Kendrick the next Rocco Baldelli, but that’s one slow-healing hamstring he’s got there. He has batting title written all over him, but Kendrick simply can’t stay healthy and is extremely slow to heal when hurt. He’s a frustrating talent.

Dating back to last season, Brandon Phillips has four more homers versus left-handers than he does righties, despite 304 fewer at-bats. He’s also batting nearly 100 points higher (.356 vs. .259) when facing southpaws. The end result is really all that should matter, but for some reason, I always feel less comfortable with players who rely so much on splits, especially when it’s the side with fewer opportunities.

It can’t hurt to at least see what Rich Harden brings back in a trade after another dominant start Saturday. Probably not much, but hey, he’s now just 25 innings away from throwing the most he has since 2005.

Game 7 of the Cavs/Celtics series was the first time I got excited this postseason. Paul Pierce deserves a lot of credit, but Boston is not winning the title. It cannot be understated just how bad LeBron James’ supporting cast is. That team is truly awful. Jeff Van Gundy is by far my favorite color commentator in any sport.

With Jeff Clement’s demotion to Triple-A, it’s time to keep your eye on Jeremy Reed in deeper leagues. The former prospect has been tearing up minor league pitching this year, hitting .364/.432/.597 with six homers and six steals. Of course, an opportunity will need to open up, but Reed’s still young enough to not be completely written off.

Ryan Howard arrested?! “The Office” finished an uneven season on a high note with its season finale. The Kevin storyline killed me.

Tough break for Jake Peavy owners. Petco Park aside, he’s one of the game’s three best pitchers, but risk is always there with him. Hopefully, his latest setback isn’t too serious, but it’s definitely worrisome. Manager Bud Black did an excellent job keeping his pitch count down game-to-game last season, but consecutive years with more than 200 innings pitched was bound to catch up to someone as fragile as Peavy.

The Indians have zero home runs from their cleanup hitter this season. Meanwhile, the Marlins lead Major League Baseball in long balls. And who cares if the Yankees are currently in last place? It’s not like they won’t be in contention come September.

With Jason Isringhausen put out to pasture, Chris Perez needs to be closely monitored. With not a lot of top options in the Cardinals’ pen, the 2006 first round pick might emerge as the team’s best relief option over the second half of the season, so there’s some save potential. He had a 2.16 ERA with 21 Ks over 16.2 innings in Triple-A this season before getting called up.

The Scoop

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

By Dalton Del Don

I expect John Smoltz to return to the mound within three weeks and be a top-five closer over the course of the season. Considering his age and balky shoulder, he’s certainly not without risk, but his stuff was about as good as ever before going on the DL. He knows how his arm responds best, so I trust his decision to move to the pen will result in better health, even if it comes down to him pitching through some soreness. If you’re looking for saves, might as well see how worried his owner is by making an offer.

Ted Lilly is officially back. A terrible start has left his ERA still sitting at 5.33, but his WHIP is 1.28, and his 8.8 K/9 IP mark is 12th best in major league baseball. Over his last four starts, he has a sparkling 32:6 K:BB ratio. His velocity has returned, and the Cubs field a terrific offense with a solid back-end to the bullpen. Lilly has never been the most durable pitcher, but he needs to be treated like a top-25 starter right now.

Ian Snell, conversely, is someone to worry about. Snell’s inability to come up with a third pitch has really hindered his development, and all those sliders are taking a toll on his arm. He’s still young enough to turn it around, but after last year’s second half (4.83 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), this season’s 5.05 ERA is disconcerting. The sinking K rate and rising BB rate are particularly discouraging.

For a game that’s played on the same exact dimensions everywhere, it’s pretty crazy just how important homecourt advantage is in NBA basketball.

Nick Johnson’s trip to the disabled list was about as surprising as someone from ESPN using the phrase “by the way.” Cal Ripken Jr. can now rest easy. Johnson was playing much better than his .220 average indicated too. The worst part is the nature of the injury, as there’s no guarantee his wrist won’t be a major problem even when he’s able to return to the field.

Song of the week: “Time to Pretend” by MGMT.

Curtis Granderson is hitless during four at-bats against left-handers this season, one year after batting .160/.225/.269 versus southpaws in 2007. He’s the rare superstar who can be benched at times in daily formats. Staying with the Tigers, Justin Verlander has been one of the five most disappointing players in baseball so far. His 6.05 ERA is accompanied by a .291 BABIP, which is right in line with his career mark, so that can’t be blamed. His .59 strand rate is sure to improve, but the fact his walks are up and his Ks are so down isn’t a great sign at all. After nine starts, his season-high for strikeouts in a game is six. Dating back to last year, he’s now served up 13 homers over his past 12 starts, which isn’t going to cut it. He’s also hit seven batters this season, which is worst in the league. I wouldn’t necessarily be trying to sell Verlander, but I also wouldn’t be aggressively trying to buy-low either.

Fun stats: Ryan Theriot’s seven caught stealings are by far the most in baseball. David Ortiz has grounded into the most double plays (10) in the league. Albert Pujols has been intentionally walked 12 times, which is almost twice the amount of anyone else. Bengie Molina has been the toughest player to strike out this year, fanning just once every 26 at-bats. Dustin Pedroia and Ryan Zimmerman have recorded the most outs in all of baseball.

Brett Myers’ loss in velocity can help explain his league-leading 15 home runs allowed, but that he’s also maintained an 8.1 K/9 IP mark is a little strange. Maybe the jumping back-and-forth between the rotation, bullpen and then rotation again wasn’t such a great idea after all. There’s pretty good reason for concern here.

Daniel Cabrera’s 3.58 ERA and 1.23 WHIP are great, and so is the fact he’s walked just one batter over the past two starts (16 innings). His newfound ability to induce a bunch of groundballs is another encouraging sign. Still, for someone with his stuff, Cabrera’s K rate (5.5 K/9 IP) is beyond disappointing, and his .240 BABIP suggests he’s been quite lucky. There’s no doubt he’s improving as a pitcher, but as much as I want to believe he’s truly turned the corner, it’s best to remain skeptical.

Chris Duncan is batting just .258 with three homers on the year, but he can be quite useful in daily formats. Injuries curtailed what was looking like a big season last year, and he’s really improved his walk rate in 2008, which could lead to him consistently hitting high in St. Louis’ order. He’s unusable versus left-handers, but Duncan has hit 20 homers in 295 career at-bats against righties, so he’s a fine option against them. However, hopefully he limits his smoking to just photo day and not game days.

Podcast

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Some basketball, some baseball, but it gets most interesting with the football talk at the end.

The Scoop

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

By Dalton Del Don

Jay Bruce needs to be added in anything but the shallowest of leagues without a bench. He’s probably gone in the majority of formats already, but if not, pounce on him. He’s hitting .328 with six homers currently in Triple-A, but even more encouraging, he’s finally learned to translate his speed into baserunning, as he’s swiped seven bags without being caught. He entered the year just 33-of-57 on SB attempts for his career. With the Reds sitting in last place, without an answer in center field and shopping Ken Griffey, Bruce will get a chance in Cincinnati soon enough.

While Victor Martinez and Joe Mauer have a combined 228 at-bats with zero homers, Geovany Soto is punishing the baseball, slugging .581 while on pace to finish with 111 RBI. I worried about him entering the year since he was never a big prospect and seemingly came out of nowhere last season at age 24, but he’s been anything but a fluke during his second year in the bigs. The 23 walks are also quite impressive.

Fausto Carmona’s season just keeps getting weirder after a complete game shutout with a 3:4 K:BB ratio Monday. He’s struck out more batters than he’s walked in exactly one of his eight starts this season. All those groundballs mean opponents are going to struggle getting extra base hits, but his current ERA (2.40) and WHIP (1.64) are mutually exclusive.

Despite three walks, Jose Lopez’s average (.312) is currently higher than his on-base percentage (.311). That’s tough to do.

Carlos Zambrano has quietly been one of baseball’s most effective pitchers this season. Entering the year, Zambrano had a rising walk rate, sinking K rate, had accrued a ton of mileage on his right arm and had just signed a lucrative long-term contract; in other words, all signs pointed to the opposite coming true. His strikeout rate is actually continuing to decline, and his strand rate (.84) will regress to the mean, but his improved control is profound. His previous career-best BB/9 IP mark was 3.47. It’s at 2.32 this season.

There’s a zero percent chance I don’t see this movie opening weekend.

Despite facing lefties during just 24 percent of his at-bats last year, Ryan Braun hit 44 percent of his homers against southpaws. This year, he’s hit eight of his nine long balls versus right-handers, which is a good sign for his future. He still strikes out too often, walks too infrequently and the 1-of-4 SB success rate this season is disconcerting, but there’s little reason to worry about his “sophomore slump.” Of course, consecutive multiple homer games probably eased plenty of minds, but this kid is legit and will be a top-15 fantasy player for years to come.

The strikeout rate is great but all those walks make Clay Buchholz pretty much unusable right now. He still needs to be treated like an elite property in keeper-leagues, but there’s going to be some growing pains, especially with the AL East being so unforgiving. Keeper-leaguers might as well throw a low ball offer his owners’ way, because there’s a lot to be encouraged about behind the ugly ERA and WHIP. His BABIP of .376 is sure to drop significantly.

Lance Berkman is as hot as a pistol. How about a line of .393/.470/.800? Would that be something you’d be interested in? Now 32 years old, it’s safe to say I didn’t see this one coming. Here’s what he’s on pace to finish the 2008 season with: 54 HRs, 25 SBs, 174 runs, 158 RBI and a .393 BA. Good thing he ended up on none of my teams.

I randomly caught Buzz Bissinger on XM’s “baseball beat” last week, and let me tell you, this guy does not disappoint. He started the segment by saying he shouldn’t have said “shit” on HBO’s Costas Now and reiterated his distaste for blogs because of their profanity. He then proceeded to drop no less than 15 F-bombs live on the air, as a stunned Charlie Steiner helplessly listened in. The irony ran thick.

What’s up with Erik Bedard? He’s walking too many batters, serving up homers left and right and only has a 3.48 ERA thanks to a .236 BABIP. I was high on him entering the season and still am, but one has to wonder how he’s feeling physically. His 7.22 K/9 IP isn’t bad, but it’s not even in the same area code as last year’s 10.93 K/9 IP mark. And this means absolutely nothing, but except for maybe Barry Bonds, I’ve never heard anyone bashed by local media more than Bedard, who is apparently an asshole.

As a Giants fan, it’s great to see old favorite Armando Benitez back in the major leagues. And by that I mean I wish him nothing but the worst.

To all you Dusty Baker apologists, and I know you’re out there, I’m curious what your thoughts are on David Ross batting out of order Sunday. All the blame can’t totally fall on Baker, but it also doesn’t reflect too greatly on the manager. Moreover, tough break for owners of Corey Patterson, who recorded an out while sitting in the dugout.

Over his last 893 at-bats, Andruw Jones is hitting .217.

After three weeks into the season, Johnny Cueto qualified as a sell-high candidate. After six weeks into the season, he’s an option to buy-low. A 22-year-old rookie being inconsistent should surprise no one, but there’s still plenty to like with Cueto. Even Kevin Slowey thinks Cueto’s nine homers allowed are embarrassing, but 46 Ks over 45.1 innings and a 1.25 WHIP suggest he’s going to be just fine long-term. It’s only a matter of time before those flyballs start turning into outs and his terrible .56 strand rate improves. He should still be treated like a top-30 fantasy pitcher.

Ichiro Suzuki currently has the lowest average (.287), OBP (.335) and SLG (.389) of his career, despite sporting his best contact rate (.92) ever. Still, he’s maintained his fantasy value by running like crazy, swiping 16 of 17 stolen base attempts on the year. Ichiro established a career-high when he stole 56 bases his rookie year, but he’s on pace for 65 this season. It also appears he hits .350-plus on three-year cycles.

Cliff Lee is simply a man possessed right now. It’s silly to say he won’t maintain this pace – oh really, he’s not going to finish with a 0.67 ERA?! But he’s clearly proven himself not to be a fluke, flashing a brilliant 44:4 K:BB ratio in 53.2 innings. Monday’s nine shutout innings may not have gotten him a victory, and it was the first time he walked a batter in four starts, but what he’s doing so far this season is unprecedented. It’s one of the bigger out of nowhere campaigns I’ve ever witnessed.

Take Your Pick

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

I’ve been extremely busy writing the running back profiles for RotoWire’s Fantasy Football magazine, so you’ll have to excuse my lack of posts. You can thank me later when I help you win your football league, however. Anyway, I thought we’d return to some “Take Your Picks,” a previous favorite. Only this time, it’s football, that way I can see if you guys are on the same page as me or not. As always, leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Adrian Peterson or LaDainian Tomlinson?

Take Your Pick

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

I’ve been extremely busy writing the running back profiles for RotoWire’s Fantasy Football magazine, so you’ll have to excuse my lack of posts. You can thank me later when I help you win your football league, however. Anyway, I thought we’d return to some “Take Your Picks,” a previous favorite. Only this time, it’s football, that way I can see if you guys are on the same page as me or not. As always, leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Steven Jackson or Brian Westbrook?

Take Your Pick

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

I’ve been extremely busy writing the running back profiles for RotoWire’s Fantasy Football magazine, so you’ll have to excuse my lack of posts. You can thank me later when I help you win your football league, however. Anyway, I thought we’d return to some “Take Your Picks,” a previous favorite. Only this time, it’s football, that way I can see if you guys are on the same page as me or not. As always, leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Marion Barber or Frank Gore?

Take Your Pick

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

I’ve been extremely busy writing the running back profiles for RotoWire’s Fantasy Football magazine, so you’ll have to excuse my lack of posts. You can thank me later when I help you win your football league, however. Anyway, I thought we’d return to some “Take Your Picks,” a previous favorite. Only this time, it’s football, that way I can see if you guys are on the same page as me or not. As always, leave your choice and thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

Willie Parker or Rashard Mendenhall?

The Scoop

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

By Dalton Del Don

The Cliff Lee train kept on chugging Wednesday with another gem, only this time coming in New York against the Yankees. There’s simply no stopping Lee, who now sports a ridiculous 39:2 K:BB ratio. Entering 2008, Lee had allowed 1.27 homers per nine innings. He’s surrendered just one long ball through 44.2 innings this season.

He’ll never help in batting average, but Mike Cameron is consistently one of the more underrated 20/20 threats in baseball. He’s not going to have the best season of his career at age 35, but remember his numbers from the past two years were suppressed by Petco Park, and the top of Milwaukee’s lineup is an excellent place to bat.

I’m going to go on record and state the Spurs will still win their series against the Hornets.

The pride of Carmel, California, Xavier Nady is off to a blistering start this season, batting .349 with five home runs. His 34 RBI leads the National League. He’s always been somewhat of an underachiever after being taken in the second round of the 2000 draft, so a career-season looks to be in store. However, Nady’s obviously not this good, has a .402 BABIP and has clubbed 75 percent of his homers throughout his career before the All-Star break. He’s someone you should be shopping.

Francisco Rodriguez’s 10:9 K:BB ratio is ugly, and his huge drop in strikeout rate is concerning for the future, but he’s still somehow on pace to finish with 63 saves this season.

After Tuesday’s near no-hitter, let me reiterate, trade Gavin Floyd. If all of your league members remain skeptical, I’d still think a 2.50 ERA and 0.96 WHIP would look good in a packaged deal. No one has been luckier in 2008 than Floyd, who boasts a 4.3 K/9 IP mark, a 1.06:1 K:BB ratio, a 4.08 BB/9 IP line, a 0.66 G/F ratio and a .147 BABIP that leads major league baseball.

Coldplay came correct with their new single. Can’t wait for the new album. No joke.

Only Dusty Baker would leave a 24-year-old pitcher in to throw 118 pitches in a 9-0 game. In life, I’ve found it’s often a good idea to learn from past mistakes. Edinson Volquez may very well lead the majors in both walks and strikeouts this season. Speaking of Cincinnati, tough to have a better fantasy game than Joey Votto’s three homers and a steal Wednesday.

How many setbacks can Mark Mulder possibly have?

I really like Sidney Ponson this year. After three starts, he has a 1.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a 2.75:1 K:BB ratio. He’s in the best shape of his career and should get good run support from Texas’ lineup. He’s flashing a highly impressive 2.13 groundball to flyball rate and has really improved pitching out of the stretch, stranding a remarkable 87.5 percent of baserunners. Additionally, he’s gone six consecutive months without being arrested. OK, I’ll stop now.

One thing I wanted to mention was that you can’t just assume a pitcher’s BABIP will return to the norm, as that stat is also largely a reflection of team defense. If you really want to get specific, you should compare pitchers’ BABIPs among teammates.

Considering that I have both Conor Jackson and Shane Victorino in LABR, watching them violently collide Wednesday night, which ended with Jackson lying motionless on the ground, was no fun. Get well soon CoJack!

Emmitt Smith is a gift that keeps on giving. Check out this recent quote he made in regards to the Cowboys trading for Pacman Jones:  “You can be with the guy and in his ear 24 hours a day, but at the end of the day you can’t be there the whole time.” Without a doubt, he’s easily my favorite analyst in any sport.

Despite a 4.74 ERA, Jose Valverde is on pace to finish with 19 wins and 33 saves. I’m not sure he’ll keep that pace in both categories, but 25 saves are within reach. In all seriousness, over his last 11.2 innings, he’s allowed zero runs with a 14:3 K:BB ratio. Valverde’s still not exactly the safest closer around, but this is someone with a staggering 11.4 K/9 IP mark throughout his career.

Fausto Carmona is having one of the more fascinating seasons in memory. His 2.95 ERA and 3-1 record are rock solid, but his WHIP is 1.79, he’s not striking anyone out, and he’s walked at least four batters in all of his seven starts but one. His 4.05 groundball to flyball rate is by far the best in baseball, and he doesn’t have a lucky BABIP (.287) either. Still, his 7.03 BB/9 IP mark is easily the worst in the league, and he’s looked nothing like the pitcher he was last season. All those free passes are going to catch up to him eventually.