Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Saturday Afternoon Revelations
New Yankees Stadium scoreboard: AP

In this space on Mondays, we usually spotlight each Sunday's most intriguing MLB game with an NFL-style Fantasy Revelations. But who are we kidding here? The weekend's most fantasy-friendly game occurred on Saturday, when the Indians scored a franchise-tying-record 14 runs in one inning and cruised to a 22-4 blowout win against the Bronx Bombers -- in a new Yankee Stadium bludgeoning that may not be matched. Ever.

What I Loved: Every Indians batter in the starting lineup recorded at least one hit. Six hitters (Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Mark DeRosa, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner) launched homers off Chien-Ming Wang and the Yankees' beleaguered, overworked bullpen. In fact, of the 25 Cleveland hits, 13 went for extra bases. Wow!

What I Loved, Part II: Five Indians hitters (Cabrera, DeRosa, Martinez, Choo and Jhonny Peralta) registered at least two runs and two RBIs on the day. DeRosa (6 RBIs) and Cabrera combined for 11 RBIs.

What Makes Me Cringe: There are bad starts, and then there are really bad outings -- like Wang's 4-out, 8-hit, 8-run meltdown before a nationally televised audience. And Wang's overall implosion (0-3 record, 34.50 ERA, 4.83 WHIP, only 2 strikeouts) coming out of Spring Training has been nothing short of horrific. All this leads me to believe that something is physically (or psychologically) wrong with Wang -- and that he'll be going to the disabled list sometime soon. This potential move, I suppose, would bode well for Ian Kennedy or Phil Hughes owners in deeper AL-only leagues.

What Makes Me Laugh (Uncomfortably): The Yankees can spend all the money they want on CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, but the organization has no clue in how to build a solid bullpen from top to bottom. As of Saturday, there were no long-relief guys at Joe Girardi's disposal. And that kind of poor planning will eventually deflate Sabathia, Burnett and Andy Pettitte's numbers -- whether it comes in the form of botched victories or runs added to their resume after a mid-inning exit.

Fantasy 2-Pack: Pitchers

These pitchers are scheduled for two starts in Week 3 (April 20-26). Hence, they're potential gold in weekly leagues:

Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
Jake Peavy, Padres
Derek Lowe, Braves
Rich Harden, Cubs
Jered Weaver, Angels
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Andy Pettitte, Yankees
Armando Galarraga, Tigers
Oliver Perez, Mets
Bronson Arroyo, Reds
Andy Sonnanstine, Rays
Manny Parra, Brewers
Joe Blanton, Phillies
Justin Masterson, Red Sox
Jamie Moyer, Phillies
Jarrod Washburn, Mariners
Mike Hampton, Astros
Brandon McCarthy, Rangers
Jason Marquis, Rockies
Andrew Miller, Marlins
Dana Eveland, Athletics
Micah Owings, Reds (some Cincy fans are clamoring to see him in the batting lineup)
Joel Pineiro, Cardinals
Ross Ohlendorf, Pirates (posted stellar numbers in the minors -- a very intriguing prospect)
Jose Contreras, White Sox
Shairon Martis, Nationals (a very young Jose Contreras clone)
Aaron Laffey, Indians
Sidney Ponson, Royals
Mark Hendrickson, Orioles
Russ Ortiz, Astros
Kevin Correia, Padres

Today's Special

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 Aaron Cook can be had in any mixed league around the world right now:

Mike Hampton, Astros vs. Reds
**Has a strong 13/5 K-BB ratio after two starts
**Possesses the capacity for 175 strikeouts in a full season
**Will never kill your WHIP, due to a low walks rate
**Owns a 6-5 career record against the Reds, including a sub-4.00 ERA and 2/1 K-BB ratio

**Even if you've been trapped under a rock for 10 years, you're probably aware of Hampton's injury-prone ways (even in warmups)
**Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips could have a field day against Hampton at the Minute Maid bandbox

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)
2B Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins (now 3B-eligible)
3B/1B Carlos Guillen, Tigers (will be OF-eligible sometime this month)
1B Conor Jackson, Diamondbacks (should be OF-eligible sometime this month)
1B Pablo Sandoval, Giants (now 3B-eligible)
2B Mark DeRosa, Indians (now 3B-eligible)
OF Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks (now 2B-eligible)
OF Skip Schumaker, Cardinals (now 2B-eligible)
3B Garrett Atkins, Rockies (should be 1B-eligible sometime by June 1)
OF Adam Dunn, Nationals (should be 1B-eligible by the All-Star break)
2B Mark Teahen, Royals (should be 3B-ready by Week 4, 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 (should be 1B-eligible by May 1)
OF Kendry Morales, Angels (now 1B-eligible)
3B Ian Stewart, Rockies (should be 2B-eligible by mid-May)

The Road To Wellville

The following is a list of hitters who should fare remarkably well against average-to-subpar pitching throughout Week 3 (April 20-26):

Matt Kemp, Dodgers (@ Astros, @ Rockies)
Manny Ramirez, Dodgers
Orlando Hudson, Dodgers
Andre Ethier, Dodgers
James Loney, Dodgers
Russell Martin, Dodgers
Rafael Furcal, Dodgers
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (vs. Twins, vs. Yankees)
Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
David Ortiz, Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
Jason Bay, Red Sox
J.D. Drew, Red Sox
Ian Kinsler, Rangers (@ Blue Jays, @ Orioles)
Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Michael Young, Rangers
Nelson Cruz, Rangers
Chris Davis, Rangers
Hank Blalock, Rangers
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rangers
Marlon Byrd, Rangers
Elvis Andrus, Rangers

Tough Road Ahead

On the flip side, these hitters are likely headed for a mini-slump in Week 3 (April 20-26), 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: (Note: The A's are only here because they'll be facing CC Sabathia -- otherwise, there are no other reasons to be afraid of the Yankees' Swiss-cheese-like pitching.)

Elijah Dukes, Nationals (vs. Braves, @ Mets)
Adam Dunn, Nationals
Nick Johnson, Nationals
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
Joey Votto, Reds (@ Cubs, vs. Braves)
Jay Bruce, Reds
Brandon Phillips, Reds
Edwin Encarnacion, Reds
Ramon Hernandez, Reds
Chris Young, Reds
Jerry Hairston, Jr., Reds
Brian Giles, Padres (@ San Francisco, vs. Pirates)
Chase Headley, Padres
Jody Gerut, Padres
Luis Rodriguez, Padres
David Eckstein, Padres
Kevin Kouzmanoff, Padres
Matt Holliday, Athletics (@ Yankees, vs. Rays)
Jason Giambi, Athletics
Ryan Sweeney, Athletics
Nomar Garciaparra, Athletics
Travis Buck, Athletics
Orlando Cabrera, Athletics
Kurt Suzuki, Athletics
Jack Cust, Athletics

Ooooh, What's That Snell?

The Georgia and Pennsylvania judicial systems may have barred me from drafting Pirates pitcher Ian Snell in any mixed league this season (restraining orders can be very explicit), but I am still within my legal rights to discuss the former fantasy man-crush from days gone by. Snell, in a surprise to no one, has already had a season's worth of highs and lows in just three starts. On April 7, the Cardinals ravaged him for nine hits, six earned runs, three walks and two HRs in just four innings. Eleven days later, Snell threw seven shutout innings of four-hit ball against the Braves, leaving a wave of way-too-trusting fantasy owners to (again) wonder aloud, "Is Ian finally to deliver on his immense promise? Is he worth grabbing off the waiver wire?"

At first blush, Snell looks like a run-of-the-mill -- or dare I say it, "average" -- major-league pitcher; after all, 32 wins in four-plus seasons is the very definition of mediocrity. But we're also talking about one of the most heralded prospects in the minor leagues from 2003-05 (398/106 K-BB ratio, 32-13 record). We're talking about a hard-throwing righty who's at the peak age of 28. We're talking about someone who comprises one-fourth of perhaps baseball's most underrated rotation (along with Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, Ross Ohlendorf) -- especially with famed pitching instructor Joe Kerrigan leading the way. And we're talking about someone with the capacity to (partially) lead a loyal fantasy owner to a fantasy title in '09.

Verdict: In Snell's next six starts, he'll face San Diego (away), Cincinnati (home), St. Louis (away), St. Louis (home), Washington (away) and Chicago White Sox (away). If he has a strong showing against the Padres this week, hurry -- but don't run -- to the waiver wire and grab him.

The Untouchables

Gut feelings or no gut feelings, these stars should NOT be dealt in any garden-variety 1-for-1 or 2-for-2 swap this season: (If you're using these guys as a means to a historically lopsided trade in your favor ... then, by all means, do the deed!)

Ian Kinsler, Rangers
Evan Longoria, Rays
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Carlos Quentin, White Sox (just crushed his ML-leading seventh homer on Sunday)
Matt Kemp, Dodgers
Victor Martinez, Indians
Carlos Pena, Rays
Jermaine Dye, White Sox (I'm starting to think he'll surpass 30 HRs this season)
Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays
Grady Sizemore, Indians
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
Nelson Cruz, Rangers (never wake a hibernating bear ... and NEVER trade a scalding-hot hitter)
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 (his scorelss-innings streak is now at 34)
CC Sabathia, Yankees
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins (don't let the slow start fool ya)
Erik Bedard, Mariners
Tim Lincecum, Giants
Chad Billingsley, Dodgers (Billz/Kershaw ... talk about a match made in blue heaven)
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Dan Haren, Diamondbacks (more on him later)
Jake Peavy, Padres
James Shields, Rays

Relief Pitchers
Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
Joe Nathan, Twins
Francisco Rodriguez, Mets
Matt Capps, Pirates
Francisco Cordero, Reds
Mariano Rivera, Yankees
Heath Bell, Padres
Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers
Joakim Soria, Royals

Getting Miggy With It
Miguel Cabrera: Scott Wachter/Icon SMI

In this age of specialization, it seems a little farfetched that one hitter could run away with baseball's hallowed triple crown. But I'm starting to recoil from my own skepticism, especially after watching Miguel Cabrera's out-of-the-gate explosion in April. At face value, Miggy's numbers to date (4 HR, 12 RBIs, 37 total bases, .489 batting average, .787 slugging, 1.325 OPS) aren't a huge surprise; after all, he has averaged 32 HRs, 120 RBIs and a .317 BA the last three seasons. But when you consider that Detroit has played seven of its 12 games in cool-to-cold weather, and that Miggy should fare even better once the weather gets warmer ... he now possesses the reasonable capacity for 34 HRs, 138 RBIs and .343 average. Let's see Carlos Quentin match that homers total. Let's see Mark Teixeira surpass that RBI figure in wind-addled Yankee Stadium. Let's see Kevin Youkilis or Ian Kinsler maintain that supreme level of hitting for the next six months.

Welcome To The Show, Rookie

I seldom endorse banking on first-year players in standard mixed leagues. However, if you're going to dip into the rookie pool, these guys likely have staying power -- at least until the obligatory post-All-Star swoon:

C Matt Wieters, Orioles (yes, he's still in the minors ... but be patient, Grasshopper)
1B Pablo Sandoval, Giants (scary talent despite no HRs and a dreadful 11/1 K-BB ratio)
2B/3B Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins (this uber-blazer is now 3B-eligible)
SS Elvis Andrus, Rangers (I just traded for his stellar .918 OPS the other day)
OF Dexter Fowler, Rockies
OF Cameron Maybin, Marlins (a virtual lock for 25 steals/80 runs)
OF Jordan Schafer, Braves
OF Daniel Murphy, Mets
OF Travis Snider, Blue Jays (has 25-HR potential this season)
U Colby Rasmus, Cardinals
SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (13 Ks, 1 hit allowed, 1 run surrendered last Wednesday ... wow!)
RP Jason Motte, Cardinals
P David Price, Rays (if you don't know who he is ... you shouldn't be playing fantasy baseball)

Total Bases Recall

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 -- even in mid-April. Here are the top 30 leaders (with ties) in total bases (through April 19):

1. Ian Kinsler, Rangers -- 44
2. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays -- 38
3. Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- 38
4. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 38
5. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 37
6. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox -- 37
7. Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals -- 35
8. Carlos Quentin, White Sox -- 35
9. Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- 34
10. Victor Martinez, Indians -- 34
11. Carlos Pena, Rays -- 34
12. Nick Swisher, Yankees -- 34
13. Orlando Hudson, Dodgers -- 33
14. Adam Lind, Blue Jays -- 32
15. Freddy Sanchez, Pirates -- 32
16. Robinson Cano, Yankees -- 31
17. Jermaine Dye, White Sox -- 31
18. Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays -- 31
19. Grady Sizemore, Indians -- 31
20. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs -- 31
21. Nelson Cruz, Rangers -- 30
22. Chris Duncan, Cardinals -- 30
23. Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs -- 30
24. Adam Jones, Orioles -- 30
25. Andre Ethier, Dodgers -- 29
26. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres -- 29
27. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 29
28. Travis Hafner, Indians -- 28
29. Torii Hunter, Angels -- 28
30. Paul Konerko, White Sox -- 28
31. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 28
32. Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks -- 28
33. Chase Utley, Phillies -- 28

O, Danny Boy

The following is a message exclusive to Dan Haren owners: DO NOT fret about his 0-3 start. DO NOT worry about Haren handling the pressure that comes with being the Diamondbacks' de facto ace -- now that Brandon Webb has been shelved with shoulder problems. And DO NOT fall prey to those vulture owners (like me) who are circling your team, in hopes of acquiring Haren for pennies on the trade dollar.

Looking at Haren's numbers from three revealing starts (1.89 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 17/3 K-BB ratio, 5 or less hits allowed in every outing, 67 percent strike/ball ratio), any fantasy owner would be a fool to part with him. In fact, I was all set to choose Haren as my pick for National League Cy Young in the April 6 Clicks (chickened out). But with Webb out of commission, Haren essentially has an unobstructed path to winning this season's award -- or finishing second to Johan Santana at the very least.

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)
**'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)

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 Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Dave O'Brien's engaging insight on Braves Chipper Jones, Kelly Johnson, Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann, 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's team pages.

Stock Report

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

1. Hoboken Highlanders (David Katz) -- 106.5 points (top-5 ranking in seven categories -- yikes!)
2. The Farmer John Family (Scott Wraight) -- 93 points (essentially a flawless club, minus RBIs)
3. The Brandon & Jason Show (Brandon Marcus/Jason Schwartz) -- 92.5 points (great balance)
4. Here Come The Funcookers! (Jeff Ritter) -- 86 points (dominant in runs, HRs, RBIs and ERA)
5. Packham Mortuary (Drew Packham) -- 80 points (greatness awaits, if RBIs and steals improve)
6. Machota's Bums (Jon Machota) -- 76.5 points (taking a major risk in 'punting' saves)
7. Hackensack Bulls (Cory McCartney) -- 74.5 points (how can you be first in wins ... last in Ks?)
8. Being Kenny Powers (Bobby Kight) -- 71 points (taking a bath in batting average)
9. Pete Rose's Best Bet (Tim Dwyer) -- 70.5 points (has 13 of 70 possible offensive points)
9. Capital City Goofballs (Josh Wymer) -- 70.5 points (dominant in batting average and steals)
11. This Week's TWIB Notes (Jay Clemons) -- 66.5 points (only 17 pitching points -- enough said!)
12. Prestige Worldwide (Charlie Kight) -- 59 points (market volatility is killing this squad)
13. Downtown Killer B's (Mike Bernaiche) -- 53 points (still has contending potential, minus WHIP)
14. Krasmanian Devils (Lonny Krasnow) -- 50.5 points (the world's most apathetic 'Autopick' owner)

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