May 15, 2009

There wasn't as much golf in my one-week vacation as I originally intended, but I did witness a girl make an amazing three holes-in-one over a four-hole stretch during a round of mini golf. Yet, it was still a relaxing and educational (if not golf-studded and exhilarating) week away from work. I got to meet a car wash shyster who tried desperately, albeit passive-aggressively, to extract a tip from my girlfriend's brother before we even ran his dad's F150 through $12 "mutilate" mode. I also got to play a long par five nicknamed "Pork Chop," at the Avocet Course at Wild Wing Plantation -- which is hilarious considering I have a golfing buddy with the exact same handle. Pork Chop recommended stopping at one of the larger rest stops on the way down to buy several bags of Mr. B's fried peanuts, which are to be eaten shell and all. Sounds bizarre, but they did not disappoint.

But do you know who did disappoint? My beloved Mariano Rivera and his floundering New York Yankees. The Bombers dropped two games last Monday and Tuesday in Yankee Stadium to Boston before losing to the Rays on Wednesday. This set up Rivera in the ninth on Thursday, in a tie game, to do something he has never done in his career. He gave up back-to-back homers -- the first to Carl Crawford on what he described as a good pitch, and the second to Evan Longoria on a fastball he said "caught a little more of the plate." No worries, Rivera owners. Mo's cutter is back to about 93-94 and running down and in on lefties as it should. Brad Lidge, however, has given us reason for pause. He hasn't gone 1-2-3 yet this year, and he's given up six runs in his last four appearances. While he had a brilliant 2008, he's battled pressure demons for entire seasons in the past. The Ryan Franklin experience might be winding down, as he finally blew a save this week, but Francisco Cordero and Heath Bell remain perfect in '09. Jonathan Broxton (15.19 K/9, 6.75 K/BB) and Chad Qualls (11.08 K/9, 8.00 K/BB) have blown only one save each this year and are posting outstanding ratios. But enough about the guys who are safe.

All statistics through May 12.

Matt Lindstrom, FLA6-for-8 (75%), 13 IP, 13 Ks, 5.54 ERA, 1.62 WHIPNext in line: Leo NunezThird in line: Kiki Calero

Fernando Rodney, DET6-for-6 (100%), 12 IP, 9 Ks, 5.25 ERA, 1.42 WHIPNext in line: Brandon Lyon/ Joel ZumayaThird in line: Ryan Perry (minors)

Brad Ziegler, OAK4-for-5 (80%), 13.1 IP, 11 Ks, 4.05 ERA, 1.65 WHIPNext in line: Michael WuertzThird in line: Andrew Bailey

Scott Downs, TOR3-for-3 (100%), 16.1 IP, 20 K, 2.20 ERA, 0.86 WHIPNext in line: Jason FrasorThird in line: Jesse Carlson/B.J. Ryan (DL)

Brandon Morrow, SEA6-for-8 (75%), 7.2 IP, 9 Ks, 4.70 ERA, 1.70 WHIPNext in line: David AardsmaThird in line: Mark Lowe

Troy Percival, TB5-for-5 (100%), 8.2 IP, 4 Ks, 2.08 ERA, 1.38 WHIPNext in line: Dan Wheeler/Joe NelsonThird in line: Grant Balfour

LaTroy Hawkins, HOU4-for-6 (67%), 15 IP, 13 Ks, 2.40 ERA, 1.27 WHIPNext in line: Geoff GearyThird in line: Chris Sampson

Huston Street, COL4-for-4 (100%), 13.1 IP, 14 Ks, 4.05 ERA, 1.35 WHIPNext in line: Jason GrilliThird in line: Manny Corpas

In case you haven't noticed, Kevin Gregg has been much improved in the month of May. He hasn't given up a run since May 1 and converted all five of his save opportunities, posting a 1.35 ERA and holding batters to a .174 BA. Consequently, I've bumped his status from "On the Fence" to "On Board," and fantasy owners can be assured that his job is safe for now... The same could probably be said of Matt Lindstrom, but his K/BB ratio is still a paltry 1.44, and there's a host of solid arms waiting in the wings to assume duties if he struggles or gets hurt... Brandon Morrow returned from the DL this week (biceps tendonitis) and was supposed to be the cure for what illed the Seattle bullpen, which struggled in his absence. Two blown saves later and there have to be questions about his arm. Morrow's best attribute has been the ability to spot his overpowering fastball at the knees of opposing hitters. When he's healthy and doing that with regularity, the Mariners don't need to consider any other options... LaTroy Hawkins has been suitable in place of the injured Jose Valverde and brings solid, if not spectacular ratios to the table (3.25 K/BB, 7.8 K/9). With Valverde probably out another month, he might make a nice spare part to acquire in a multi-player deal -- if that's your thing... Huston Street has re-claimed the job in Colorado, and has pitched well since doing so. He's only yielded two free passes this season and none since April 26... Whether or not Brad Ziegler gets the call the next time there's a save opportunity in Oakland remains to be seen, since he recently came down with the flu and had an asthma attack. But the A's submariner is still at the top of the depth chart and estimates he should be back to 100 percent within a couple weeks.

Joakim Soria, KCSoria is on the DL with a sore right shoulder. Royals general manager Dayton Moore apparently places some of the blame on the WBC, even though Soria reportedly has no structural damage. Moore said the Royals "couldn't control his work" in the WBC, and that may have led to his current situation.

Frank Francisco, TEXFrancisco has bicep tendonitis and has missed several games. He could be back soon, but you have to worry when a guy with a spotty history starts developing problems. The right-hander complained of shoulder soreness last weekend after pitching on three consecutive days, and received both an MRI exam and an injection of an anti-inflammatory on Tuesday. Francisco had two arm surgeries -- including the Tommy John procedure in 2005 -- and had not pitched on three consecutive days in major league games since 2007. He may still head to the DL.

José Valverde, HOUValverde's calf is still being drained regularly and it should be at least three more weeks before he's back.

B.J. Ryan, TORGeneral manager J.P. Ricciardi plans to use Scott Downs as closer even after Ryan rejoins the club. Ryan is finishing up his rehabilitation from a minor shoulder injury and could be back as soon as this weekend. Before he went to the DL, the two-time All-Star had an 11.12 ERA in six games this season, with just two saves in four chances.

Joey Devine, OAKDevine underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for the remainder of 2009.

Mike González, ATL5-for-7 (71%), 14.2 IP, 19 Ks, 3.68 ERA, 1.16 WHIPNext in line: Rafael SorianoThird in line: Peter Moylan

Juan Cruz, KC1-for-2 (50%), 14.1 IP, 11 Ks, 1.88 ERA, 1.12 WHIPNext in line: Ron Mahay/Robinson TejedaThird in line: Jamey Wright/Kyle Farnsworth

George Sherrill, BAL6-for-8 (75%), 14.2 IP, 13 Ks, 3.68 ERA, 1.64 WHIPNext in line: Chris RayThird in line: Jim Johnson/Danys Baez

C.J. Wilson, TEX0-for-0 (N/A), 2 HLDs, 13 IP, 10 Ks, 4.85 ERA, 1.62 WHIPNext in line: Eddie GuardadoThird in line: Darren O'Day

Joe Beimel, WAS0-for-1 (0%), 5 HLDs, 11 IP, 5 Ks, 4.09 ERA, 1.55 WHIPNext in line: Joel Hanrahan /Julian TavarezThird in line: Kip Wells/Mike MacDougal

Even if you're completely desperate for saves, I suggest staying away from the situation in Washington, which gets increasingly worse as the days drag on. If you waste waiver priority or moves in a limited format on Joe Beimel, Joel Hanrahan or any of the other dudes posing as closers in our nation's capital, you're going to be angry. Beimel's good enough as a lefty setup man, but he's obviously not a closer, and neither Julian Tavarez nor Hanrahan can be counted on... Juan Cruz, on the other hand, should fill in admirably for the injured Joakim Soria during the next few weeks for the Royals, who have series coming up with Baltimore and Cleveland. Cruz has posted obscene K/9 rates his past two seasons (12.84 in 2008, 12.37 in 2007), but has struggled a bit in his past few outings with control (5 K, 5 BB). Even though manager Trey Hillman has called this a committee, I expect Cruz to get most of the chances, since Ron Mahay and Kyle Farnsworth can't be trusted. And while journeyman Jamey Wright has pitched well thus far, his career ratios (4.90 K/9, 1.11 K/BB) don't inspire much confidence... For now, it seems both Mike Gonzalez (11.66 K/9, 3.80 K/BB) and George Sherrill (7.98 K/9, 1.64 K/BB) are holding down their jobs, but I'd still prefer to have Gonzalez for the long haul. The peripherals speak for themselves and Rafael Soriano always has a tough time staying healthy and keeping the ball in the park. It should be noted that C.J. Wilson is only the interim closer in Texas with Frank Francisco nursing his biceps injury. Wilson isn't a great option in the interim, as he'll probably compete with Eddie Guardado and Darren O'Day (8.00 K/BB in '09) for saves.

Jonathan Papelbon, BOS9-for-9 (100%), 15 IP, 19 Ks, 1.20 ERA, 1.40 WHIPNext in line: Takashi SaitoThird in line: Hideki Okajima/Daniel Bard

Francisco Rodríguez, NYM9-for-9 (100%), 15.2 IP, 16 Ks, 1.15 ERA, 1.09 WHIPNext in line: J.J. PutzThird in line: Pedro Feliciano/Sean Green

Mariano Rivera, NYY6-for-7 (86%), 12.1 IP, 18 Ks, 3.65 ERA, 1.30 WHIPNext in line: Phil Coke/Jose VerasThird in line: Edwar Ramirez/Brian Bruney (DL)

Jonathan Broxton, LAD8-for-9 (89%), 16 IP, 27 Ks, 0.56 ERA, 0.38 WHIPNext in line: Cory WadeThird in line: Ramon Troncoso

Joe Nathan, MIN5-for-6 (83%), 12 IP, 11 Ks, 1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIPNext in line: Matt GuerrierThird in line: Jesse Crain

Heath Bell, SD8-for-8 (100%), 11.2 IP, 14 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIPNext in line: Duaner SanchezThird in line: Cla Meredith

Bobby Jenks, CWS8-for-8 (100%), 12 IP, 12 Ks, 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIPNext in line: Octavio DotelThird in line: Matt Thornton/Scott Linebrink

Kerry Wood, CLE5-for-6 (83%), 11 IP, 16 Ks, 6.55 ERA, 1.64 WHIPNext in line: Jensen LewisThird in line: Rafael Betancourt

Trevor Hoffman, MIL6-for-6 (100%), 7 IP, 8 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIPNext in line: Carlos VillanuevaThird in line: Todd Coffey

Francisco Cordero, CIN7-for-7 (100%), 10 IP, 11 Ks, 2.70 ERA, 1.40 WHIPNext in line: David WeathersThird in line: Jared Burton/Arthur Rhodes

Brian Wilson, SF8-for-10 (80%), 17 IP, 19 Ks, 3.18 ERA, 1.06 WHIPNext in line: Jeremy AffeldtThird in line: Merkin Valdez

Chad Qualls, ARI8-for-9 (88%), 13.0 IP, 16 Ks, 2.77 ERA, 1.15 WHIPNext in line: Tony PeñaThird in line: Juan Gutierrez/Tom Gordon

Brad Lidge, PHI5-for-6 (83%), 13.2 IP, 16 Ks, 8.56 ERA, 1.98 WHIPNext in line: Ryan MadsonThird in line: Chad Durbin/Clay Condrey

Ryan Franklin, STL9-for-10 (90%), 14.2 IP, 13 Ks, 1.23 ERA, 0.68 WHIPNext in line: Jason MotteThird in line: Kyle McClellan/Chris Pérez

Brian Fuentes, LAA9-for-11 (82%), 11.2 IP, 15 Ks, 5.40 ERA, 1.63 WHIPNext in line: Scot ShieldsThird in line: Jose Arredondo

Kevin Gregg, CHI (NL)6-for-7 (86%), 16.1 IP, 19 Ks, 3.86 ERA, 1.53 WHIPNext in line: Carlos MármolThird in line: Aaron Heilman/Jeff Samardzija

Matt Capps, PIT5-for-6 (83%), 9.1 IP, 9 Ks, 6.75 ERA, 2.04 WHIPNext in line: John GrabowThird in line: Tyler Yates

You May Like