May 22, 2009

News:Peavy blocks trade to South Side

Views: He hasn't revealed the exact reason why he turned down the White Sox (who doesn't want to play alongside Chris Getz, Jayson Nix and Scott Podsednik?). But if, as reported, Peavy has a preference for "middle America" but still turned down the White Sox, that likely means moving to the AL (or a hitter-friendly park) was the sticking point. Petco Park is still a pitcher's heaven -- since the beginning of 2008, Peavy has a 2.21 ERA at home and 4.29 on the road. A move to the Sox would have made Peavy a good, but no longer great, fantasy option.

Verdict: Peavy owners should breathe a huge sigh of relief. Any move to any American League team would hurt. If he's going to insist on staying in the National League (and presumably not be traded to Cincinnati or Colorado), it ensures he'll be one of the 10 or 15 best pitchers in fantasy baseball.

News:Kazmir just awful

Views: It's one thing for a pitcher to run it to some bad luck and have hits falling in, and Kazmir's .358 opponent batting average on balls in play means he's been a bit unlucky. But for the most part, his wounds have been self-inflicted. So far this season, his strikeout rate is way down (though still above average at 6.89 K/9) and his walk rate has been brutal, even for him (5.7 BB/9). Since six shutout innings in Oakland on April 24, he's made five starts, going 1-3 with a 11.35 ERA, pornographic 2.57 WHIP, and an 18-to-17 K-to-BB ratio in 23 innings. If not for his recent track record, those numbers would earn a 25 year old a ticket to Durham. His velocity is down, and his command has disappeared.

Verdict: He's absolutely toxic right now. If you have him, bench him. If you don't have him, don't bother buying low (unless you can get him for next to nothing). Obviously, we know he can dominate when he's going good, so don't drop him. But until he strings together a couple of good starts (that means strikeouts, few walks, and some of his velocity back), he can't be in your lineup.

News:Smoltz throws well in rehab

Views: Coming back from shoulder surgery, the 42-year-old threw three scoreless innings and, much more importantly, hit 92 on the gun. Smoltz appears on track to be back by mid-June at the latest (assuming no setbacks), and he'll most certainly be inserted right into the rotation. He had a 2.57 ERA and 36-to-8 K-to-BB ratio over 28 innings before getting hurt last season. He's at the same juncture in his career as Randy Johnson is, an aging strikeout artist who's a ticking time bomb health-wise. He'll be a six-inning starter most nights, and will face the much stronger lineups of the American League in a hitter-friendly home park. Still, Smoltz can strikeout a batter an inning and should get the run support and bullpen help to win 8-to-10 games in Boston.

Verdict: You're running out of time to grab him up. Smoltz only belongs on the waiver wire in the shallowest of leagues. Once he's back, he's one of the best 40 or 50 starters in fantasy baseball as long as he's healthy.

News:Padres get a new Gwynn

Views: A nice story, and Gwynn could get a shot later this season. He's the kind of athlete who fits well in spacious Petco Park, and San Diego will have nothing to play for anyway. After brutal 2007 and '08 seasons, Gwynn had bounced back with a .309 average and 15 steals through 38 games at Nashville. But the bigger winner here is Scott Hairston, who will get more at-bats with Jody Gerut out of the picture. Hairston had been playing regularly against lefties but sitting often against righties despite a .336 average and .977 OPS on the season. Facing more righties will be a drag on his average (though if you thought you were getting a .300 hitter you need your head checked), but Hairston could easily hit 20 home runs over the remainder of the season.

Verdict: Unfortunately, those 20 homers will likely translate to about 33 RBIs hitting in the Padres lineup, but Hairston's stock is rising nonetheless. He can stay on the waiver wire in shallow mixed leagues, but anyone starved for power should scoop him up.

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