Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Sunday Afternoon Revelations
Adam Everett (L-R), Ramon Santiago, Curtis Granderson: AP

In the interest of making Clicks bigger and better than ever, we'll spotlight each Sunday's most fantasy-friendly game, NFL Revelations-style. Our primary choice from Week 6 involves one of the more schizophrenic outfits in all of baseball -- the sweep-or-be-swept Detroit Tigers (20-16), the current leaders of the balanced (read: painfully mediocre) AL Central:

Tigers 11, Athletics 7
What I Liked: A's outfielder Matt Holliday, who seemingly never cracks a smile on the field, went 4-for-4 against Detroit pitching (while scoring one run). For good measure, he stole his first base of the season! (Just 27 more to go.)

What I Liked, Part II: Tigers shortstop Adam Everett, the dead-last pick in my AL-only platinum league, has exceeded the expectations normally reserved for Mr. Fantasy Irrelevant. On the season, he's hitting a respectable .306; on Sunday, he racked up one RBI, two runs and three RBIs.

What I Loved: Three middle infielders with limited power (Ramon Santiago, Orlando Cabrera, Adam Kennedy) homered on Sunday, to the delight of fantasy owners everywhere (at least those in AL-only leagues). But we're hardly talking one-shot wonders here: Kennedy collected three hits, two runs and one RBI, Cabrera tallied two hits, one run and one RBI, and Santiago went a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs and four RBIs. As a Detroit native, I've been critical of Santiago in recent years; but who am I to find fault with a slick-fielding utility defender hitting .352?

What I Loved, Part II: Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson chose the perfect time to leave his mark in Sunday's game. With Detroit clinging to an 8-7 lead in the 5th inning, Granderson stepped to the plate and launched a three-run homer to right field, effectively sealing his club's comeback win. Hard to believe the A's started the game with a 6-0 cushion. It's even harder to believe the Tigers were coming off a midweek sweep to the Twins, after surveying their offensive damage for the weekend: 34 runs, 41 hits, five home runs and two grand slams. Wow!

What I Loved, Part III: Even on a day when he struggled in short relief (two walks), Oakland's Andrew Bailey (3-0, 1.54 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 29 Ks in 23 innings) never ceases to impress me with his penchant for attacking hitters -- on every pitch. Yes, I know Brad Ziegler is ensconsed as the team's closer, but I love Bailey's chances of becoming a Heath Bell-esque fireman ... someday.

What Makes Me Cringe: Sunday starters Armando Galarraga (5 hits, 5 runs allowed in 0.2 innings) and Trevor Cahill combined to surrender 12 runs on 12 hits in just three innings. About four weeks ago, Galarraga and Cahill might've been hailed as top-25 starters in AL-only leagues. But now, both pitchers are steadily becoming the equivalent of fantasy roadkill.

What Makes Me Cringe, Part II: Gerald Laird, Jason Giambi and O-Cabrera are hardly hitting their respective weights, which leads me to wonder when Chris Carter may get called up to Oakland's parent club -- if for no other reason than applying much-needed pressure to Giambi and Nomar Garciaparra (currently on the DL). As for Laird, I cannot even recall the name of Detroit's top catching prospect in the minors ... how's that for job security?

Fantasy 2-Pack: Pitchers

These pitchers are scheduled for two starts in Week 7 (May 18-24). Hence, they're potential gold in weekly leagues:

Ted Lilly, Cubs
John Lackey, Angels (more on him later)
Felix Hernandez, Mariners
Cliff Lee, Indians
Cole Hamels, Phillies
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Johnny Cueto, Reds
James Shields, Rays
Jair Jurrjens, Braves
Randy Wolf, Dodgers
Mark Buehrle, White Sox
Andy Pettitte, Yankees
Dan Haren, Pirates
CC Sabathia Yankees
Chris Young, Padres
Ervin Santana, Angels (hey, welcome back!)
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins
Scott Baker, Twins
Tim Wakefield, Red Sox
Jarrod Washburn, Mariners
Scott Richmond, Blue Jays
Kyle Lohse, Cardinals
Barry Zito, Giants
Shairon Martis, Nationals
Brian Bannister, Royals
Dave Bush, Brewers
Matt Palmer, Angels
Ross Ohlendorf, Pirates
Joel Pineiro, Cardinals
Glen Perkins, Twins
Brian Tallett, Blue Jays
Jason Marquis, Cardinals
Brandon McCarthy, Rangers
Dontrelle Willis, Tigers
Sean Gallagher, Athletics
Jeff Niemann, Rays
Jeff Karstens, Pirates
Clayton Richard, White Sox
Jason Hammel, Rockies
Bryan Augustein, Diamondbacks
Josh Outman, Athletics
Bradley Bergesen, Orioles
Ross Detwiler, Nationals

Today's Special

For every baseball Clicks, I will select the best mixed-league pitching prospect -- likely available on the waiver wire -- who's also taking the mound that day or evening. The 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 Eric Stults can be had in any mixed league around the world right now:

Scott Richmond, Blue Jays (vs. White Sox)
Pros:
**Allowed 3 or less runs in his first five starts (four victories)
**Averaging a respectable .76 strikeouts per inning
**Essentially has a 2-to-1 K/BB ratio
**On most nights, he won't kill you with walks, and subsequently, a higher WHIP
**The Blue Jays have beaten the White Sox seven straight times at Rogers Centre

Cons:
**Now for the bad news ... Richmond has been atrocious in his last two starts
**Surrendering nearly one homer per start
**With Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez in tow, the White Sox are ready to explode

Positional Assumptions

In most leagues, a player becomes eligible for a new position once he's played five games at that spot in the current season. Here's a list of players who have either earned new-position eligibility ... or are on the cusp of accomplishing this often-overlooked and underappreciated status:

3B Chris Davis, Rangers (now 1B-eligible)
3B Hank Blalock, Rangers (should be 1B-eligible by mid-June)
C Ramon Hernandez, Reds (now 1B-eligible)
3B Chris Coghlan, Marlins (should be 2B-eligible by mid-June)
2B Jose Lopez, Mariners (now 1B-eligible)
2B Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins (now 3B-eligible)
DH Jason Giambi, Athletics (now 1B-eligible)
2B Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (now SS-eligible)
3B/1B Carlos Guillen, Tigers (now OF-eligible)
1B Conor Jackson, Diamondbacks (now 1B-eligible)
1B Pablo Sandoval, Giants (now 3B-eligible)
2B Mark DeRosa, Indians (now 3B- and OF-eligible)
OF Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks (now 2B-eligible)
OF Skip Schumaker, Cardinals (now 2B-eligible)
3B Garrett Atkins, Rockies (now 1B-eligible)
OF Adam Dunn, Nationals (should be 1B-eligible by May 25)
2B Mark Teahen, Royals (now 3B-eligible, thanks to Alex Gordon's injury)
SS Michael Young, Rangers (now 3B-eligible)
3B Jorge Cantu, Marlins (now 1B-eligible)
2B Alexei Ramirez, White Sox (now SS-eligible)
C Victor Martinez, Indians (now 1B-eligible)
OF Kendry Morales, Angels (now 1B-eligible)
SS Ben Zobrist, Rays (now OF-eligible)
OF Nick Swisher, Yankees (now 1B-eligible)
3B/SS Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays (now 2B-eligible)
3B Ian Stewart, Rockies (now 2B- and OF-eligible)
OF Jerry Hairston, Jr., Reds (now SS-eligible)

The Road To Wellville

These hitters should fare remarkably well against average-to-subpar pitching throughout Week 7 (May 18-24):

Ian Kinsler, Rangers (@ Tigers, @ Astros)
Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Nelson Cruz, Rangers
Chris Davis, Rangers
Marlon Byrd, Rangers
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rangers
Michael Young, Rangers
Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Ryan Howard, Phillies (@ Reds, @ Yankees)
Chase Utley, Phillies
Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
Jayson Werth, Phillies
Shane Victorino, Phillies
Raul Ibanez, Phillies
Pedro Feliz, PhilliesMiguel Cabrera, Tigers (vs. Rangers, vs. Rockies)
Curtis Granderson, Tigers
Brandon Inge, Tigers
Ryan Raburn, Tigers (filling in for Magglio Ordonez this week)
Gerald Laird, Tigers
Placido Polanco, Tigers
Clete Thomas, Tigers
Marcus Thames, Tigers (could be back this week)
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (vs. Orioles, vs. Phillies)
Mark Teixeira, Yankees
Derek Jeter, Yankees
Johnny Damon, Yankees
Brett Gardner, Yankees
Robinson Cano, Yankees
Nick Swisher, Yankees

Tough Road Ahead

On the flip side, these hitters are likely headed for a mini-slump in Week 7 (May 18-24), due to poor pitching matchups. I'm not saying "Don't start 'em" ... just be wary of these guys facing at least four top-end hurlers during this period:

Garrett Atkins, Rockies (@ Braves, @ Tigers)
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
Chris Iannetta, Rockies
Todd Helton, Rockies
Dexter Fowler, Rockies
Ryan Spilborghs, Rockies
Brad Hawpe, Rockies
Ian Stewart, Rockies
Matt Holliday, Athletics (@ Rays, vs. Diamondbacks)
Jason Giambi, Athletics
Orlando Cabrera, Athletics
Ryan Sweeney, Athletics
Kurt Suzuki, Athletics
Travis Buck, Athletics
Adam Kennedy, Athletics
Adrian Gonzalez, Padres (vs. Giants, vs. Cubs)
Chase Headley, Padres
Jody Gerut, Padres
Brian Giles, Padres
Kevin Kouzmanoff, Padres
Nick Hundley, Padres
David Eckstein, Padres
Alex Rios, Blue Jays (@ Red Sox, @ Braves)
Vernon Wells, Blue Jays
Aaron Hill, Blue Jays
Adam Lind, Blue Jays
Travis Snider, Blue Jays
Rod Barajas, Blue Jays
Scott Rolen, Blue Jays
Lyle Overbay, Blue Jays
Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays

Feeling A Draft In Here?

With MLB's first-year player draft on the horizon (June 9-10), here are the first 15 picks from MyMLBDraft.com's most recent mock draft. You'll notice that 12 pitchers are going quite high, meaning 2009 serves as one of the weakest-hitting classes in recent memory ... or the single-greatest group of pitching phemons in draft history:

1. Nationals: P Stephen Strasburg, San Diego State
2. Mariners: OF/1B Dustin Ackley, North Carolina
3. Padres: OF Donovan Tate, Cartersville HS (Ga.)
4. Pirates: P Aaron Crow, Fort Worth Cats (independent)
5. Orioles: P Tanner Scheppers, Fresno State
6. Giants: P Alex White, North Carolina
7. Braves: P Tyler Matzek, Capistrano Valley HS (Calif.)
8. Reds: P Shelby Miller, Brownwood HS (Texas)
9. Tigers: SS Grant Green, USC
10. Nationals: P Zach Wheeler, East Paulding HS (Ga.)
11. Rockies: P Kyle Gibson, Missouri
12. Royals: P Jacob Turner, Westminster Christian Academy (Mo.)
13. Athletics: P Matt Purke, Klein HS (Texas)
14. Rangers: P/IF Matt Leake, Arizona State
15. Indians: P Andy Oliver, Oklahoma State

Speaking Of Strasburg ...

Yes, the kid is a cinch to be the Nationals' top pick in the draft. Yes, he can throw 100-mph heat in his sleep and balance it with a knee-trembling slider. Yes, Washington desperately needs another starter to complement Jordan Zimmerman, Shairon Martis and the underrated John Lannan. And yes, the franchise needs a marketing "face" to boost underwhelming season-ticket sales at Nationals Park. That aside, Strasburg has absolutely zero fantasy value in non-keeper leagues, and here's why:

**Strasburg's "advisor" at San Diego State is none other than superagent Scott Boras
**Boras has a long track record of delaying his client's contract negotiations until the following fall and winter months (see J.D. Drew, circa 1997)
**As the worst team in baseball (11-25), the Nationals have no incentive to fast-track Strasburg's pro career (assuming he signs)
**There's no guarantee that Strasburg will become a perennial All-Star and dominant ace in the majors. If you don't believe me ... just remember that in the 44-year history of the MLB draft, not one pitcher taken No. 1 overall has made it to the Hall of Fame

So, if you're seriously thinking about using that coveted waiver-wire ranking on Strasburg (who will be eligible in fantasy leagues around June 12): Please, I'm begging you to pass on the phenom. In non-keeper situations, he's pitcha non grata in 2009.

The Untouchables

Gut feelings aside, these stars should NOT be dealt in any garden-variety 1-for-1 or 2-for-2 swap this season. (If you're using them as a means to a blissfully lopsided trade in your favor ... then, by all means, do the deed!):

Hitters
Ian Kinsler, Rangers
Evan Longoria, Rays
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Carlos Beltran, Mets
Carlos Quentin, White Sox
Carl Crawford, Rays
Joe Mauer, Twins (a 9th-round steal for risk-taking owners)
Matt Kemp, Dodgers
Victor Martinez, Indians
Jermaine Dye, White Sox
Grady Sizemore, Indians
David Wright, Mets
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
Andre Ethier, Dodgers
Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Justin Morneau, Twins
Chase Utley, Phillies

Starting Pitchers
Johan Santana, Mets
Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
Zack Greinke, Royals (just like the SI cover says ... the best in the biz)
CC Sabathia, Yankees (don't let the slow start fool ya)
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins (he might not last on this list much longer)
Erik Bedard, Mariners
Tim Lincecum, Giants
Chad Billingsley, Dodgers
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Dan Haren, Diamondbacks
Jake Peavy, Padres
Justin Verlander, Tigers (there's no knocking him when he's white-hot)
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (back on the list)

Relief Pitchers
Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
Joe Nathan, Twins
Francisco Rodriguez, Mets
Matt Capps, Pirates (off to a below-average start)
Francisco Cordero, Reds
Mariano Rivera, Yankees
Heath Bell, Padres
Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers
Joakim Soria, Royals (grab Juan Cruz while he's on the DL)

Choose Your Own Rationalization

There are two ways to characterize the fact that Toronto's Aaron Hill, Alex Rios and Vernon Wells rank 1-2-3 in at-bats in all of baseball. Either, the trio's absurdly low walks rate (39 combined through May 17) and noticeably low OBP (Hill leads the group -- .385) will eventually come back to haunt 'em ... or the Blue Jays, owners of the American League's best record at 26-14, are simply baseball's best bet to go through their batting order five or six times -- on any given day. For the time being, I'm going to side with the latter.

Total Bases Recall
Justin Morneau: Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

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 (fanatical?) 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 17):

1. Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- 100
2. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays -- 99
3. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 98
4. Victor Martinez, Indians -- 96
5. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals -- 96
6. Ian Kinsler, Rangers -- 94
7. Justin Morneau, TWins -- 92
8. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres -- 90
9. Johnny Damon, Yankees -- 89
10. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 88
11. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs -- 87
12. Michael Young, Rangers -- 87
13. Carlos Beltran, Mets -- 85
14. Adam Jones, Orioles -- 85
15. Adam Lind, Blue Jays -- 84
16. Jason Bay, Red Sox -- 83
17. Carlos Pena, Rays -- 83
18. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 82
19. Orlando Hudson, Dodgers -- 81
20. Carlos Lee, Astros -- 80
21. Nick Markakis, Orioles -- 80
22. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins -- 78
23. Adam Dunn, Nationals -- 77
24. Torii Hunter, Angels -- 77
25. Jason Bartlett, Rays -- 76
26. Rickie Weeks, Brewers -- 76
27. Mike Lowell, Red Sox -- 75
28. David Wright, Mets -- 75
29. Curtis Granderson, Tigers -- 74
30. Ryan Howard, Phillies -- 74
31. Bengie Molina, Giants -- 74

A Gift From The Fantasy Gods

As an unintended benefit of his embarrassing two-pitch seasonal debut from Saturday, Angels pitcher John Lackey will get the starting nod again on Monday (and subsequently Sunday). That means he's a last-second (and high-profile) addition to the Two-Start Pitchers list for Week 7 (above). Why did he only throw two pitches? Click here for the answer.

Running Hot

David Wright's run of fantasy goodness since May 3 (.447 average, 11 runs, 2 HRs, 18 RBIs, 7 steals) has been nothing short of remarkable. In fact, from a pound-for-pound evaluation, he might be the best third baseman in fantasyland. Yes, Evan Longoria is setting the world on fire in HRs (11) and RBIs (46), and a healthy Alex Rodriguez possesses the greatest upside of all the Men Who Rule The Hot Corner. But right here, right now, if I had to sell the farm to acquire either A-Rod, Longoria or Wright for June-September, I'd favor Wright's across-the-board greatness. And don't worry about the three homers to date -- he'll undoubtedly be in the mid-30s by season's end.

For those fantasy owners coveting the many talents of Wright, here are some 1-for-2 trade suggestions to get the ball rolling:

*Wright for Robinson Cano/Matt Holliday
*Wright for Hank Blalock/Tim Lincecum
*Wright for Jermaine Dye/Jake Peavy
*Wright for Lance Berkman/Brian Fuentes
*Wright for Brian Roberts/Johnny Cueto
*Wright for Mike Lowell/Cole Hamels
*Wright for Chipper Jones/Matt Cain

Speaking Of Cain ...

At risk of sounding like a Christmas-themed parable, Matt Cain is currently being obscured by a Ghost of Seasons Past (Randy Johnson), a Ghost of Seasons Future (top farmhand Madison Bumgarner) and a Ghost of Seasons Present (Tim Lincecum) in the Giants' pitching pecking order. I mean, what other reason could explain Cain's relative anonymity outside of the Bay Area and Cain family reunions?

Including Sunday's 3-hit, 5-strikeout, scoreless gem against the Mets, Cain boasts a 4-1 record, 2.92 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 37 Ks on the season. Sure, the strikeouts could be more plentiful and the walks (five on Sunday) would have to go down a smidge, but if any under-25 pitcher is ready to join baseball's inner circle of elite pitchers, it's Cain. Don't believe me? Well, in just three seasons (prior to '09), the 24-year-old Cain had already surpassed each of the following major indicators (below) of future success -- albeit in separate years -- lending further credibility to an imminentbreakout:

**200 innings: Twice (2007, '08)
**13 wins: Once ('06)
**3.65 or less ERA: Twice ('07, '08)
**1.28 or less WHIP: Twice ('06, '07)
**180 or more strikeouts: Once ('08)
**8.5 or higher K/9 rate: Once ('06)

Homework Assignment: Before Cain's next start (presumably Saturday at Seattle), try moving heaven and earth -- in the most subtle manner possible -- to grab the San Francisco treat who'll surely enhance your chances for a fantasy title in '09.

The Missing Links

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

**Baseball America
**Baseball America's 2009 Top Prospects
**Rotowire Player Search Database (great for targeting prospects)
**MinorLeagueBaseball.com's Stats page
**MLB.com's Fantasy Page
**Baseball-Reference
**Baseball Prospectus
**Accuscore.com
**Retrosheet
**The Hardball Times
**Dallas Morning News' Rangers blog (co-writers Richard Durrett, Jeff Wilson)
**Seattle Times' Mariners blog (Geoff Baker, author)

Postscript: It goes without saying, you MUST become a regular subscriber (or at least make it a "Favorite" on your desktop) to your players' team blogs in respective newspapers (like Arizona Republic writer Nick Piecoro's engaging insight on Diamondbacks Justin Upton, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds, Stephen Drew, Dan Haren, Chad Qualls, etc.). These sites should be your daily lifeline when conducting research. And for those playing in AL- or NL-only leagues, your absolute best friend from April to September should be the ever-changing depth charts running on MLB.com's team pages.

Stock Report

In case you care, here's an update for the much-talked-about AND highly volatile SI.com & Friends fantasy league. It's your typical 14-team, 5x5, roto-style setup:

1. Packham Mortuary (Drew Packham) -- 97 points (our sixth different leader this season)
2. The Farmer John Family (Scott Wraight) -- 93.5 points (top-6 in seven categories ... solid!)
3. Being Kenny Powers (Bob Kight) -- 88.5 points (Week 6 leader getting killed in batting average)
4. The Brandon & Jason Show (Marcus/Schwartz) -- 83.5 points (counting their $$$ already)
5. Pete Rose's Best Bet (Tim Dwyer) -- 82.5 points (top-4 in five categories, and yet ...)
6. Hackensack Bulls (Cory McCartney) -- 79.5 points (great in Wins ... gawd-awful in Saves)
7. This Week's TWIB Notes (Jay Clemons) -- 78.5 points (absolutely taking a bath in Wins/ERA)
8. The Funcookers (Jeff Ritter) -- 77 points (oh, how the mighty have fallen, er, tumbled)
9. Teixeira's Slow Start (Jon Machota) -- 75 points (different team name, same middling production)
10. Prestige Worldwide (Charlie Kight) -- 71.5 points (probably should trade away Matt Cain)
11. Hoboken Highlanders (David Katz) -- 70.5 points (the last of the Tier II contenders)
12. Downtown Killer B's (Mike Bernaiche) -- 59.5 points (needs help in Saves, Steals and Ks)
13. Capital City Goofballs (Josh Wymer) -- 47 points (only top-5 in one category: steals)
14. Krasmanian Devils (Lonny Krasnow) -- 46.5 points (the king of indifferent 'autopick' owners)

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