Manny Ramirez: Larry Goren/Icon SMI
Manny Ramirez's 50-game absence from the Dodgers lineup (spanning eight weeks) has obviously decimated his value in all fantasy leagues. Not only are his owners scrambling to fill the now-vacant OF slot in NL-only or deeper mixed leagues, but they'll also have to wade through an avalanche of lowball trade offers involving mediocre outfielders -- given the likely dearth of productive talent available on the waiver wire.
How It'll Affect Manny
According to AccuScore.com projections, Ramirez would've racked up the following numbers over the next eight weeks: 36.6 runs, 11.2 HRs, 36.8 runs, 3.1 steals and a .334 batting average.
Barring injury or any delays from the suspension-appeals process, Manny is slated to return on July 3 at San Diego. With three full months left of the season, he has the potential capacity for 54.6 runs, 18.4 HRs, 55.2 RBIs, four steals and a .331 average in that time frame. However, the AccuScore estimates don't account for the constant media scrutiny Ramirez will surely encounter, stemming from the positive test for a performance-enhancing drug or stimulant.
Verdict: Manny owners with little or no outfield depth might want to consider dealing him for two solid, but hardly spectacular outfielders (like Jason Kubel and Elijah Dukes) ... or one stellar non-outfield contributor (like Reds first baseman Joey Votto). For those with abundant outfield depth, it might be more beneficial to ride out Manny's May/June suspension, knowing he'll probably catch fire after the All-Star break.
Who Stands To Benefit
So, this is why the Dodgers still have Juan Pierre on the roster, eh? With regular playing time through the years, Pierre has been a lead-pipe cinch for 40-55 steals and a batting average in the neighborhood of .295. But he's 31 now and doesn't have a natural spot in the batting order, aside from the no man's land area of 8th. If Pierre had Micah Owings hitting behind him twice a week ... maybe he'd be a stellar three-category contributor over the next two months. But at least he'll get 12-15 steals in May/June -- that's something. Think of him as an older, cheaper alternative to speedy rookies Dexter Fowler, Cameron Maybin or Andrew McCutchen (more on him later).
How It'll Affect His 'Mates
Manny's suspension could have a negative impact on two Dodgers -- Orlando Hudson and Andre Ethier, traditionally the Nos. 2 and 4 hitters in the L.A. lineup (bookending Ramirez). For the next eight weeks, opposing pitchers won't have the fear factor that often comes with facing Manny four to five times a night. Hudson (.342 BA, .425 OBP in '09) may still generate his fair share of walks, but his batting average and power numbers will likely decline in May and June.
Ethier (.317 BA, .438 OBP) might be the most hindered by Manny's absence. With six homers on the season, he was well on his way to eclipsing his personal-best in homers (20). But now, his power numbers could take a noticeable dip -- unless manager Joe Torre opts to move Matt Kemp from the No. 7 slot to the 3-hole for the next two months. (Note: Both Hudson and Ethier tallied just one hit in Thursday's game, the first without Manny in the lineup.)
Verdict: This might be a good time to (quietly) sell high on Hudson and Ethier. Conversely, it might be the perfect time to buy low on Kemp, one of baseball's best under-25 prospects -- even though he's batting only .212 in his past 15 games. Manny's suspension, in time, may prove to be a blessing for the first-place Dodgers -- and especially Kemp (1 HR, 5 RBIs on Thursday night), who should be invigorated by the challenge of filling Manny's very-large shoes.
The following is a list of Major League Baseball's best performers in the all-hallowed WHIP category (minimum 14 innings -- through May 6):
RP Jonathan Broxton,Dodgers (0.43)
RP Scott Downs, Blue Jays (0.52)
RP Andrew Bailey, Athletics (0.70)
RP Ramon Troncoso, Dodgers (0.71)
SP Dan Haren, Diamondbacks (0.74)
RP Frank Francisco, Rangers (0.75)
RP Danys Baez, Orioles (0.77)
RP Ramon Ramirez, Red Sox (0.78)
RP Michael Wuertz, Athletics (0.80)
SP Matt Guerrier, Twins (0.82)
SP Zach Greinke, Royals (0.84)
RP Jamey Wright, Royals (0.86)
RP Kiko Calero, Marlins (0.86)
SP Johan Santana, Mets (0.91)
RP Clay Condrey, Phillies (0.93)
SP Yovani Gallardo, Brewers (0.96)
SP Ted Lilly, Cubs (0.98)
SP Kevin Millwood, Rangers (0.99)
RP J.J. Putz, Mets (1.00)
SP Matt Garza, Rays (1.00)
SP Chad Billingsley, Dodgers (1.03)
SP Johnny Cueto, Reds (1.04)
SP Erik Bedard, Mariners (1.05)
SP Josh Johnson, Marlins (1.05)
SP Jarrod Washburn, Mariners (1.08)
SP Josh Geer, Padres (1.08)
SP Tim Wakefield, Red Sox (1.09)
SP Randy Wolf, Dodgers (1.09)
RP Leo Nunez, Marlins (1.10)
SP Ricky Romero, Blue Jays (1.10) (on the DL)
SP Edwin Jackson, Tigers (1.11)
RP J.A. Happ, Phillies (1.11)
SP Glen Perkins, Twins (1.11)
One good turn deserves another. Here are baseball's leading ERA kings (minimum 14 innings -- through May 6):
RP Frank Francisco, Rangers (0.00)
SP Zack Greinke, Royals (0.40)
RP Scott Downs, Blue Jats (0.59)
RP Ramon Ramirez, Red Sox (0.59)
RP Manny Delcarmen, Red Sox (0.63)
RP Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers (0.64)
SP Johan Santana, Mets (0.91)
RP Ramon Troncoso, Dodgers (0.98)
RP Jamey Wright, Royals (1.45)
RP Andrew Bailey, Athletics (1.45)
SP Dan Haren, Diamondbacks (1.47)
SP Johnny Cueto, Reds (1.65)
SP Ricky Romero, Blue Jays (1.71)
RP Clay Condrey, Phillies (1.80)
RP Michael Wuertz, Athletics (1.80)
SP Jair Jurrjens, Braves (1.89)
RP Kiko Calero, Marlins (1.93)
SP Brian Bannister, Royals (1.96)
SP Wandy Rodriguez, Astros (2.19)
SP Chad Billingsley, Dodgers (2.21)
RP Lance Cormier, Rays (2.25)
SP Chris Sampson, Astros (2.25)
RP Danys Baez, Orioles (2.30)
SP Erik Bedard, Mariners (2.37)
RP Leo Nunez, Marlins (2.45)
SP Dallas Braden, Athletics (2.50)
SP Miguel Batista, Mariners (2.57)
SP Josh Johnson, Marlins (2.57)
SP Scott Richmond, Blue Jays (2.67)
SP Kevin Millwood, Rangers (2.78)
SP Zach Duke, Pirates (2.79)
SP Tim Wakefield, Red Sox (2.91)
SP Jarrod Washburn, Mariners (2.97)
SP Chris Volstad, Marlins (2.97)
SP Paul Maholm, Pirates (2.97)
SP Aaron Harang, Reds (3.00)
RP D.J. Carrasco, Phillies (3.00)
RP Juan Gutierrez, Diamondbacks (3.00)
RP Jesse Carlson, Blue Jays (3.00)
SP Yovani Gallardo, Brewers (3.02)
SP Tim Lincecum, Giants (3.05)
For every baseball Clicks, I will spotlight the best mixed-league pitching prospect -- likely available on the waiver wire -- who's also taking the mound that day/evening. My intent, of course, is to provide a quick boost in your hunt for a fantasy title ... just don't send me any threatening emails after the featured hurler flames out, like all Schleprocks are prone to do sometimes. After all, there's a reason why Bradley Bergesen can be had in any mixed league in the world right now:
Yusmeiro Petit, Diamondbacks (vs. Nationals)
**Averages almost one strikeout per inning; he also has a decent 17/9 K-BB ratio
**Has allowed three or fewer earned runs in four of his last five starts
**Will never decimate your WHIP, due to a low walks rate
**Going against an inconsistent Nationals team on Friday
**Has way too much talent to be so ordinary for sustained stretches
**He's absolutely due for a victory
**Petit hasn't gotten past the fifth inning in any game this season
**Washington hung 11 runs on the Dodgers on Thursday night
**Nats 3B Ryan Zimmerman has a 25-game hitting streak ... with no end in sight
This Week's TWIB Notes, my AL-only platinum-league team (CBS), had its streak of 18 consecutive nights of at least one stolen base come to an unfortunate end on Thursday. The Twibbies, led by Carl Crawford (six steals vs. Boston on Sunday) and Jacoby Ellsbury, amassed 32 steals from April 20-May 7 ... and quickly vaulted from 8th to 1st place in SBs during that time frame. It goes without saying: The streak may still be alive ... if I hadn't called attention to it in Monday's Clicks. Damn, I'm such a jinxie!
The following is a list of prominent major leaguers currently residing on the disabled list:
SP Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks
OF Vladimir Guerrero, Angels
SS Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks
1B Tony Clark, Diamondbacks
OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers
C Jorge Posada, Yankees
SP Tim Hudson, Braves
SP Tom Glavine, Braves
C Ryan Doumit, Pirates
OF Rick Ankiel, Cardinals
SS Jed Lowrie, Red Sox
SP John Smoltz, Red Sox
3B/1B/OF Carlos Guillen, Tigers
DH Travis Hafner, Indians
3B Edwin Encarnacion, Reds
OF Xavier Nady, Yankees
SP Jeremy Bonderman, Tigers
3B Troy Glaus, Cardinals
2B Mark Ellis, Athletics
3B Alex Gordon, Royals
1B Nomar Garciaparra, Athletics
SP John Lackey, Angels
SP Ervin Santana, Angels
SP Kelvim Escobar, Angels
SS Jack Wilson, Pirates
RP Joey Devine, Athletics
SP Justin Duchscherer, Athletics
OF Marcus Thames, Tigers
OF Dewayne Wise, White Sox
SP Chris Carpenter, Cardinals
OF Cliff Floyd, Padres
SS Cody Ransom, Yankees
OF Ryan Freel, Orioles
1B/2B Jeff Baker, Rockies
1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
OF Brian Anderson, White Sox
OF Mark Kotsay, Red Sox
2B Jamey Carroll, Indians
1B Dmitri Young, Nationals
Leave it to Rotowire -- which absolutely cleaned up at the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards in January -- to get the masses excited about the impending arrival of rookie studs David Price, Tommy Hanson, Andrew McCutchen and Orioles catcher Matt Wieters. Known in the biz as "Super Two" talents, this foursome (among others) has been biding their time in the minors, in anticipation of a mid-May callup ... and now their time has finally come! It goes without saying, Price, Hanson, Wieters and McCutchen are must-haves in AL- or NL-only leagues (along with 14-team mixed leagues). They are essentially can't-miss talents and should be viewed as priorities over dime-a-dozen (read: replaceable) veterans, assuming you have the room for 'em.
Have you executed a waiver-wire pickup yet? Have you already wasted your top spot on the waiver-priority list in the name of grabbing Justin Upton? Have you offered a trade to another owner as a knee-jerk response to Hanley Ramirez's tepid start (preceding his two-HR day on Thursday, of course)? Even worse, has another owner sent you a lopsided trade (in his/her favor) on the assumption that you're despondent over Ricky Nolasco's shockingly high ERA (7.06), WHIP (1.63) and opponents' batting average (.321)?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, no doubt you're a serial watcher of your fantasy league's "Live Scoring" component. You're also extremely vulnerable to making irrational decisions based on your (temporary) ninth-place standing in a 10-team league. But alas, I have some good news: Now that the calendar reads May, you're free and clear to make as many trades as your fantasy heart sees fit. Dissatisfied with Dustin Pedroia? Deal him away for sure-fire power (Justin Morneau). Bewildered by the maddening inconsistency of Kerry Wood as the Indians' closer? Ship him out for an underrated starter, like the Angels' Jered Weaver. Bored with Alex Rios? Then go move heaven and earth to grab Nick Markakis ... just be leery of including Aaron Hill as a throw-in to a blockbuster swap (speaking from experience here).
Alberto Callaspo: AP
Royals second baseman Alberto Callaspo is neither the first nor last out-of-nowhere hitter to flirt with .400 for a month or two. But he's the first one to warrant an entire sub-section in Fantasy Clicks, on the grounds of a spirited debate at the SI.com office in Atlanta. Here's the backstory: Last Sunday, a group of us Webbies were watching a few baseball games simultaneously, when our resident American League guru, Lonny Krasnow, went on a mini-rant about the fantasy virtues of Callaspo. Krasnow, a Boston-born Red Sox honk who literally hates every other AL club, was poking fun at Callaspo for being an "empty .400 hitter" ... which prompted me to jump from my chair and shout, "There is no such thing as a bad .400 in fantasyland!"
The crux of this sector isn't necssarily about defending Callaspo. After all, his .359 batting average, two HRs, 11 RBIs, 16 runs and major-league-leading 13 doubles speak for itself. Krasnow simply made the mistake of lumping Callaspo in with all the one-trick ponies who seemingly getting a free pass in fantasyland ... until now: (stats through May 6)
SS Rafael Furcal, Dodgers (21 runs BUT only 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 steals and .264 BA)
1B Lance Berkman, Astros (7 HRs BUT only 14 runs, 16 RBIs, 0 steals and .194 BA)
OF Jay Bruce, Reds (7 HRs BUT only 15 runs, 15 RBIs, 1 steal and .267 BA)
1B Chris Davis, Rangers (6 HRs BUT only 14 runs, 13 RBIs, .198 BA and zero steals)
3B Casey Blake, Dodgers (5 HRs BUT 14 runs, 15 RBIs, .225 BA and zero steals)
1B Mark Teixeira, Yankees (5 HRs BUT 14 runs, 15 RBIs, .209 BA and zero steals)
OF Emmanuel Burriss, Giants (8 steals BUT 7 runs, 4 RBIs, .232 BA and zero HRs
SS Jose Reyes, Mets (7 steals BUT only 11 runs, 1 HR, 8 RBIs and .248 BA)
OF B.J. Upton, Rays (7 steals BUT only 14 runs, 3 RBIs, .159 BA and zero HRs)
SS Alexei Ramirez, White Sox (6 steals BUT only 7 runs, 1 HR, 11 RBIs and .211 BA)
1B/OF Conor Jackson, Diamondbacks (5 steals BUT only 8 runs, 1 HR, 13 RBIs and .187 BA)
I know it's a Monday custom to break down the weekend's best MLB game, NFL Revelations-style. But who among us can resist a Revelations postmortem of Red Sox-Indians from Thursday night? Boston went into the bottom of the 6th trailing 2-1 ... but would finish the stanza with a 13-2 lead -- thanks to a record-breaking string of 12 men up, 12 men crossing home plate -- before one single out was recorded (and yes, that's a record):
What I Liked: With one scoreless inning, Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen dropped his ERA to a microscopic 0.59. It's official: Boston has passed Tampa Bay as the American League's best and deepest bullpen.
What I Loved: Five hitters (Dustin Pedroia, Jason Bay, Julio Lugo, Nick Green, Jeff Bailey) produced multi-hit games for the victorious Red Sox. In fact, Pedroia (3 RBIs), Bay (1 HR, 4 RBIs) and Bailey (2 RBIs) knocked in nine of Boston's 13 runs.
What I Loathed: On a night when 12 consecutive batters reached base and scored, you'd think it would have been a banner evening for every Boston regular. But Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew both went hitless against the Indians' porous pitching.
What I Loathed, Part II: Neither Cleveland nor Boston registered one stolen base in the game.
What Makes Me Cringe: Doing his best (or worst) impression of Chien-Ming Wang or Scot Shields, Tribe reliever Masa Kobayashi failed to retire one of six batters in the 6th inning (they all scored, too). How bad was the experience? His ERA spiked from a respectable 3.72 to a deplorable 8.38 in about, oh, eight minutes. And his WHIP is now probably somewhere between affinity and the symbol Prince used sometime in the 90s to replace his actual name.
For those in daily leagues, all-stars Alex Rodriguez and Braves catcher Brian McCann are slated to come off the DL Friday and be activated before the 7 p.m. games. So, what does this mean in fantasyland? It means that A-Rod will have to wait an entire week to test out the wind-tunnel atmosphere that is new Yankee Stadium (New York begins a six-game roadie at Baltimore and Toronto). And McCann will get to try out his new glasses ... just in time for that first battery toss by the Philly faithful.
Here's one way to gauge the ever-expanding popularity of Fantasy Clicks: We're getting beseiged by freelance bloggers every day, hoping that we'll promote their baseball and football pieces in this column. And while we can never guarantee this prime space of Web real estate to anyone, I'd like to call attention to two articles from the guys at The Bleacher Report. The first one focuses on a phalanx of unheralded fantasy hitters who'll bring you goodness in Runs or RBIs. The second story simply details three players who are taking off ... and three who are fading faster than Ron Artest's chances of getting his mohawk personally approved by Mr. T.
Dodgers ace Chad Billingsley (5-0) is going for his sixth win of the young season on Friday. Royals wunderkind Zack Greinke is vying for an MLB-best 7-0 on Saturday. Conversely, Roy Oswalt will attempt to get his first win on Sunday. Four months from now, would anyone like to make a friendly wager that Oswalt finishes within two victories of Billingsley and/or Greinke?