Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Sunday Afternoon Revelations
Carl Crawford: Bob Levey/Getty Images

In an effort to make Fantasy Clicks bigger and better than ever, we'll spotlight each Sunday's most intriguing MLB game in an NFL-style Revelations. This week's choice -- Rays @ Astros -- was a tough choice over Marlins-White Sox (Florida nearly scored in every inning), Rockies-Royals (Zack Greinke -- gasp! -- got shelled) or Blue Jays-Diamondbacks (can Shaun Marcum and Toronto's dynamic offense be stopped?). But, in the end, there was just too much fantasy goodness coming out of Enron Field, er, Minute Maid Park.

Tampa Bay 10, Houston 6
What I Liked: Neither Ben Zobrist (3 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 1 homer) nor Jeff Keppinger (3 hits, 2 runs) are classic leadoff hitters, but who's going to argue with Sunday's interim results? If anything, the Astros should be impressed with Keppinger's versatility ... whether playing second or third base, or trying to fill the speedy fantasy shoes of Michael Bourn (15 steals this season); and Tampa Bay ought to be pleased with the notion of bumping Carl Crawford down to the 2-hole on days when Evan Longoria's not in the lineup.

What I Liked, Part II: OK, so Houston pitcher Bud Norris surrendered three homers in just five innings -- no one's going to defend his honor in that realm; but his 10 strikeouts against the free-swinging Rays was muy impressivo. The fireballing Norris is only 25 years old and could easily emerge as the Astros' ace next season, provided he keeps the ball low and his arm slot high over the next 40-45 starts. Right now, he's a solid waiver-wire pickup for owners who value strikeouts far more than ERA and WHIP.

What I Liked, Part III: Back on April 30, the names of John Jaso and Alicia Rountree meant nothing to me; but now, they comprise the hot-hitting catcher of baseball's best team ... and the awe-inspiring, green-dress-wearing boss's daughter from Heineken's famous TV spot. Jaso (for those who have moved on from Rountree's commercial) tallied one run, two hits and four RBIs on Sunday in the No. 3 hole. (perhaps Longoria's greatness stems from batting third) In the long term, who's to say if Jaso will have enough chutzpah to outlast Kelly Shoppach (on the DL) and Dioner Navarro, but the winner should know that Tampa Bay's lone organizational weakness lies with catcher (although that may change after the June draft).

What I Liked, Part IV: Spare us the Minute Maid Park jokes. Hank Blalock's opposite-field blast probably would have cleared the fences in 20-plus ballparks; and spare us any sad lamentings for Pat Burrell (cut by the Rays last week). Blalock is every bit the power pinch-hitter that Burrell was/is ... and his first-base eligibility will undoubtedly keep Carlos Pena (1-for-5, 1 RBI on Sunday) on his toes for the next few months.

Revelations Number 2

What I Loathed: Without a doubt, B.J. Upton's fantasy beauty rests in the eye of his beholder. But no one can justify his Sunday numbers -- 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and six runners left on base. Ouch!

What I Loathed, Part II: At what point should fantasy owners wave the white flag on Carlos Lee and his .238 batting average/one steal since April 23? Oh sure, he's still a somewhat reliable source for homers (we think); but at the age of 34 (come June 20), he's probably a lost cause in steals and -- to a lesser extent -- runs. That's a lot of sorrow for a guy who had Round 3/4 draft status just 60 days ago.

What I Loved: As an unabashed Yankee hater, it bothers me that two of my favorite outfielders in recent years -- Carl Crawford and Curtis Granderson -- will likely be wearing pinstripes in 2011. In the meantime, Tampa Bay fans should enjoy another 4-5 months of Crawford's greatness ... whether in the form of runs, hits, steals or superb catches (like his gem at Yankee Stadium last Tuesday). Against the Astros, Crawford had two hits, three hits, one RBI and one steal -- just another ho-hum day from this dynamo.

What I Loved: It's safe to say Rafael Soriano has justified (and exceeded) this so-called-expert's No. 8 ranking amongst closers in's preseason preview. Even better, Soriano's dominance (12 saves, 1.42 ERA, 0.89 WHIP this season) has enabled Lance Cormier, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler and J.P. Howell to return to their traditional roles as top-flight setup men.

What Made Me Indifferent: It was inevitable that David Price (5 runs, 2 HRs allowed in 5 innings) would have a blah outing sometime Year 2, but at least he earned a victory for the effort. Fantasy owners should have that warm feeling in their hearts today, knowing that Price is golden even on bad days.

What Left Me Scratching My Head: I would give a shiny quarter to anyone who could explain the fantasy shiftiness of Astros outfielder Hunter Pence (2 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 1 homer on Sunday). The man is wayyyyy too talented to be lumped as a throw-in to Alex Rodriguez trades ... but not consistent enough to carry an outfield in 12-team fantasy leagues.

Fantasy 2-Pack: Pitchers

These pitchers are scheduled for two starts in Week 8 (May 24-30), although the last nine listed may be last resorts for the truly desperate:
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Jake Peavy, White Sox
James Shields, Rays
Adan Wainwright, Cardinals
John Danks, White Sox
Jon Lester, Red Sox
Clay Buchholz, Red Sox
A.J. Burnett, Yankees
Mike Leake, Reds
Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks
Dallas Braden, Athletics
Ryan Dempster, Cubs
Joe Saunders, Angels
Scott Baker, Twins
Livan Hernandez, Nationals
Randy Wolf, Brewers
Justin Masterson, Inidans
Wade Davis, Rays
Jon Garland, Padres
Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies
Aaron Harang, Reds
Brett Cecil, Blue Jays
Jamie Moyer, Phillies
R.A. Dickey, Mets
Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles
Brian Burress, Pirates
Kenshin Kawakami, Braves
Todd Wellemeyer, Giants
Gil Meche, Royals
Paul Maholm, Pirates
Felipe Paulino, Astros

Dare To Compare

In a nod to the classic Pepsi Challenge of 1980s lore, here's a blind ace test for fantasygoers (based on Accuscore projections): Which of the five high-profile starting pitchers would you most prefer from this point forward (May 24-Oct. 1)? And can you guess which projections represent that of onetime Phillies savior Cole Hamels?

Player A
Projected stats: 13.4 wins, 3.42 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 136.0 strikeouts
Player B
Projected stats: 10.1 wins, 4,28 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 144.7 strikeouts
Player C
Projected stats: 11.2 wins, 3.51 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 128.5 strikeouts
Player D
Projected stats: 11.0 wins, 2.80 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 146.0 strikeouts
Player E
Projected stats: 10.2 wins, 3.71 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 131.2 strikeouts

A -- Phil Hughes, Yankees
B -- Cole Hamels, Phillies
C -- Roy Oswalt, Astros
D -- Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
E -- Ricky Romero, Blue Jays

The Road To Wellville

These hitters should fare well against average-to-subpar pitching in Week 8 (May 24-30):
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (@ Minnesota, vs. Cleveland)
Derek Jeter, Yankees
Mark Teixeira, Yankees
Francisco Cervelli, Yankees
Nick Swisher, Yankees
Brett Gardner, Yankees
Robinson Cano, Yankees
Ryan Braun, Brewers (vs. Houston, vs. N.Y. Mets)
Prince Fielder, Brewers
Casey McGehee, Brewers
Corey Hart, Brewers
Rickie Weeks, Brewers
Carlos Gomez, Brewers
Alcides Escobar, Brewers
Jose Reyes, Mets (vs. Philadelphia, @ Milwaukee)
David Wright, Mets
Jason Bay, Mets
Angel Pagan, Mets
Ike Davis, Mets
Gary Matthews, Jr., Mets
Rod Barajas, Mets
Nelson Cruz, Rangers (@ Kansas City, @ Minnesota)
Ian Kinsler, Rangers
Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Julio Borbon, Rangers
Michael Young, Rangers
Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Justin Smoak, Rangers
Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers

Trouble Ahead

On the flip side ... here's a list of hitters who are likely headed for slow starts in Week 8 (May 24-30), due to poor pitching matchups. I'm not saying "Don't start 'em" ... just be wary of these guys, who'll face at least four high-quality hurlers during this period:

Adam Jones, Orioles (vs. Oakland, @ Toronto)
Nick Markakis, Orioles
Miguel Tejada, Orioles
Matt Wieters, Orioles
Ty Wigginton, Orioles
Corey Patterson, Orioles
Luke Scott, Orioles
Shin-Soo Choo, Indians (vs. White Sox, @ N.Y. Yankees)
Matt LaPorta, Indians
Russell Branyan, Indians
Austin Kearns, Indians
Jhonny Peralta, Indians
Trevor Crowe, Indians
Lou Marson, Indians
Adam Dunn, Nationals (@ San Francisco, @ San Diego)
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
Nyjer Morgan, Nationals
Ian Desmond, Nationals
Roger Bernadina, Nationals
Pudge Rodriguez, Nationals
Adam Kennedy, Nationals
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (@ Cincinnati, @ Atlanta)
Garrett Jones, Pirates
Ryan Doumit, Pirates
Andy LaRoche, Pirates
Lastings Milledge, Pirates
Jeff Clement, Pirates
Akinori Iwamura, Pirates

The Missing Links

Need a helping hand with your fantasy baseball research? Well, here are the Web sites I check every morning (and night) -- all in the name of 24/7 roster improvements:

**Baseball America
**Baseball America's 2010 Top Prospects
**Rotowire Player Search Database (great for targeting prospects)
**'s stats page
**'s fantasy page
**Baseball Prospectus
**The Hardball Times
**Dallas Morning News' Rangers blog (co-writers Richard Durrett, Jeff Wilson)
**Seattle Times' Mariners blog (Geoff Baker, author)

Total Bases Recall
Ryan Howard (L), Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez: AP

For the loyal Clicks readers of fantasy football, you've heard me prattle on a thousand times about the importance of Targets -- the number of times a receiver is thrown to -- and how it's a fail-safe method for evaluating receivers. Well, I am equally passionate about Total Bases in fantasy baseball. By my way of thinking, TB is the perfect convergence of coveting power hitters and on-base machines who make a living from doubles. It's also a stellar indicator of future success. Here are the top 30 leaders (with ties) in total bases (through May 23):

1. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 108
2. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays -- 102
3. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 101
4. Jayson Werth, Phillies -- 99
5. Robinson Cano, Yankees -- 98
6. Alex Gonzalez, Blue Jays -- 97
7. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 96
8. Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers -- 95
9. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays -- 94
10. Andre Ethier, Dodgers -- 93
11. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox -- 93
12. Ty Wigginton, Orioles -- 92
13. Alberto Callaspo, Royals -- 91
14. Jose Guillen, Royals -- 91
15. Ryan Braun, Brewers -- 90
16. Marlon Byrd, Rangers -- 90
17. Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- 90
18. Casey McGehee, Brewers -- 90
19. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs -- 90
20. Dan Uggla, Marlins -- 90
21. Josh Hamilton, Rangers -- 89
22. Joey Votto, Reds -- 89
23. Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks -- 88
24. Chase Utley, Phillies --88
25. Jorge Cantu, Marlins -- 87
26. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 87
27. Shane Victorino, Phillies -- 87
28. Carl Crawford, Rays -- 86
29. Ryan Howard, Phillies -- 86
30. Paul Konerko, White Sox -- 86
31. Kendry Morales, Angels -- 86

Football's Always On The Brain, headed by the world's least obnoxious Yankees fan, Michael Fabiano, will conduct its annual mock draft later today -- with the results possibly going into its fantasy-football magazine this summer. The timing couldn't be more perfect for two reasons: 1) I'm itching for another experts' mock draft before the Sports Illustrated one on June 1; and 2) I'm pretty much out of material for Wednesday's Clicks (actually, that's not true -- I tentatively have 2,500 words solely devoted to Bears running back Matt Forte ... HA!)

Never Surrender

I'm proud to report that Corey Hart is no longer considered a fantasy leper at this point of the season -- five homers, 10 RBIs and .280 batting average since May 10 will do that for a guy. But to my amazement, he still holds less trade value than Jonny Gomes, Will Venable, Drew Stubbs, Fred Lewis and/or Martin Prado in deeper leagues. Look, I realize that fantasy owners are still feeling scorned from Hart's 2009 malaise (12 HRs/48 RBIs/11 steals) and that his stellar catch from Saturday seemingly has no meaning in fantasyland; but his defensive prowess will most definitely keep him in the lineup over the ageless Jim Edmonds ... and at age 28, he remains an outside threat for 15-20 steals. (God, I hope so.)

Analyze This

To the delight of many, there is never a slowdown period with trades in the & Friends league. Whether it's BIG ones involving Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia, or little ones involving Brandon Wood and Aaron Harang, there's always something going down between the graveyard-shift hours of 2-6 a.m. ... which, in turn, gives us an excuse to let the mathematical geniuses at Accuscore be the knee-jerk judge and jury:

Team A gets ... Andrew McCutchen, Gordon Beckham, Jonathan Sanchez
McCutchen (Accuscore yearly estimates -- May 24-Oct. 1)
.312 batting average, .382 OBP, 80.5 runs, 13.6 HRs, 49.7 RBIs, 28.9 steals
.253 batting average, .341 OBP, 63.2 runs, 11.2 HRs, 56.4 RBIs, 8.9 steals
9.8 wins, 3.81 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 139.1 strikeouts

Team B gets ... Matt Holliday, Howie Kendrick, Jaime Garcia
Holliday (Accuscore yearly estimates -- May 24-Oct. 1)
.321 batting average, .394 OBP, 69.6 runs, 16.7 HRs, 71 RBIs, 9.9 steals
.294 batting average, .331 OBP, 54.7 runs, 7.7 HRs, 55.3 RBIs, 10.6 steals
12.7 wins, 1.75 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 136.4 strikeouts

Verdict: From a name-only perspective, this one seems like a given for the McCutchen/Beckham/Sanchez side; but a closer look reveals that Holliday/Kendrick/Garcia should win this battle by season's end ... especially when you factor in Garcia's Bob Gibson-like finish in ERA and John Tudor-esque production in victories. Not bad for a guy who was once deemed inferior to Joel Pineiro and Todd Wellemeyer, huh?

Analyze That

Since we already have the Accuscore Predictatron 5000 cranking, here's another trade from the & Friends league:

Team A gets ... Chad Billingsley
Billingsley (Accuscore yearly estimates -- May 24-Oct. 1)
11.6 wins, 3.69 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 123.8 strikeouts

Team B gets ... Brett Gardner
Gardner (Accuscore yearly estimates -- May 24-Oct. 1)
.300 batting average, .375 OBP, 71.2 runs, 4.4 HRs, 29.3 RBIs, 37.5 steals

Verdict: If Curtis Granderson should fall prey to injury one more time this season, this one's a slam dunk for the Gardner group. But if Gardner sees a decrease in at-bats -- and subsequently, steals -- in June, July and August, I'd rather have Billingsley's promising projections. (Notice how Accuscore isn't planning on another second-half collapse for Billz.)

Depth Of Knowledge

There is no greater resource than the official (and up-to-date) depth charts for each MLB club. In no particular order ...

National League
East: Marlins | Braves | Mets | Phillies | Nationals
Central: Reds | Pirates | Cubs | Brewers | Cardinals | Astros
West: Dodgers | Diamondbacks | Padres | Rockies | Giants

American League
East: Red Sox | Orioles | Rays | Yankees | Blue Jays
Central: White Sox | Tigers | Indians | Royals | Twins
West: Rangers | Angels | Athletics | Mariners

Stock Report

Here's an update for the highly volatile & Friends league (15-team, 5x5-roto):
1. The Baltimore Choppas (Jay Clemons) -- 112 points (life at the top is kinda boring)
2. Bronx Bulldogs (Charlie Kight) -- 98.5 points (CC Sabathia looks sort of ragged, eh?)
3. TEAM COCO Crisp (Micah Hart) -- 97.5 points (just wait till St. Strasburg takes over)
4. The Youkileles (Lonny Krasnow) -- 95 points (craving Carlos Guillen's 2B-eligibility)
5. From First To Worst (Jon Machota) -- 93.5 points (last week's brief leader falls on hard times)
6. Kershawshank Redemption (Danny Lampson) -- 91.5 points (welcome to the 90-Plus Club!)
7. Crotch Bats (Jeff Ritter) -- 90.5 points (speaking of saves ... throw Ritter a life preserver)
8. Tulo's Dirtbags (Scott Wraight) -- 90 points (spent $46/FAAB money on Edwin Encarnacion)
9. Dominican Lous (Cory McCartney) -- 89 points (needs help in HRs, RBIs, wins and saves)
10. Ruxin's Rabbits (Brandon Marcus) -- 83 points (karma's a bitch ... ain't it, Mr. USC?)
11. Joba Rules (Bobby Kight) -- 75.5 points (today's lesson: too many M's = fantasy mediocrity)
12. Cabrera's Cannibals (David Komer) -- 54.5 points (the best team of the bottom tier -- meh)
13. Albert's On The Big Mac Diet (Andrew Lamb) -- 46 points (dreaming of Notre Dame football?)
14. Milwaukee Schlitz (Jeff Lewis) -- 42.5 points (1s/2s great with binary code, not cat-rankings)
15. Lenny Loves Twizzlers (Drew Packham) -- 41 points (could easily land Jayson Werth with one simple phone call, text, IM, email or air-mail message sent by a savvy carrier pigeon)

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