August 19, 2009

White Sox GM Kenny Williams has an ego problem, but if I have only one positive attribute, it's that I give credit where credit is due. He's positioned the White Sox to be very good, very soon. Not only do they have youngsters like Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez, but they've now brought in Jake Peavy and Alex Rios. The Rios move was a shock to everyone, but I think it can only help his fantasy value.

His first four games with the Sox have been brutal. He's hit .168 with one RBI and no runs. However, he seems to be a perfect fit for U.S. Cellular and the White Sox lineup. He'll hit in the middle of the order, behind the red-hot Beckham and a variety of other veterans that know how to get on base. So not only will he get ample RBI opportunities, but he will be hitting in one of baseball's most hitter-friendly parks. Ozzie Guillen will also allow him to steal bases at his pleasure.

We all know Rios' faults. He doesn't walk very often (career .334 OBP) and he's prone to prolonged slumps, which is killer in head-to-head leagues, but he definitely has some more value in Chicago. Those in keeper and dynasty leagues should try to acquire him for this season and beyond.

Feel free to e-mail with any fantasy baseball questions you have over the next two months. It's always good to get an outside opinion and I'm happy to help. Let's get to this week's T.I.P.S.

All statistics through August 17.

Getting back to basics

Jason Bay was an RBI machine the first three months of the season. He was so productive that he had 69 RBIs and 19 homers entering July. Since then, his play has been downright disastrous. The 30-year-old, in the final year of his contract, hit .192 in July with one home run and a mere five RBIs. More like Jason Varitek than Jason Bay. Until this past week, it seemed that the Red Sox didn't know what to do with their Manny Ramirez replacement. Luckily for the BoSox and his fantasy owners, Bay is showing signs of shrugging his lingering slump. He was 10-for-29 over the week with six runs, four homers and eight RBIs. He's still hitting only .259, but his August average sits at a pretty .343. Don't expect the average to climb near .280, but expect Bay to continue knocking in some runs as Boston challenges for a playoff spot.

Straight Borbon

The 2005 University of Tennessee Volunteers made it to the College World Series behind such big names as Luke Hochevar and Chase Headley. They also had a young speedster named Julio Borbon who contributed positively. Four years later, Borbon is now a member of the Texas Rangers and he raised more than a few eyebrows with his 4-for-5, four stolen base performance on Saturday night. Borbon has been batting leadoff the past few games and has five stolen bases and a .429 average. Nelson Cruz will be back this week, creating a logjam in the Texas outfield. Borbon should head back to the bench, entering as a pinch runner and receiving a few spot starts here and there. The four-stolen base game is intriguing, but this glass of Borbon won't contribute regularly enough to impact fantasy teams this season.

Servin' Ervin

How hot are the Angels these days? Even their starting pitcher with a 6.38 ERA is throwing complete game shutouts. Ervin Santana shut down the Tampa Bay Rays last Tuesday, limiting them to three hits while striking out six. It's been a tough year for Santana, especially since he went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 214 Ks just one year ago. Lately, Santana has been showing signs of life. In two August starts he's compiled a 2.40 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Even so, his post-break ERA is still 4.89, despite a respectable 1.22 WHIP. His control has been an issue, evident by seven walks to 13 Ks this month, making him a very risky start. For some reason he's owned by 71 percent of fantasy teams. Don't increase that by adding him if he's on your league's waiver wire. His ERA will hurt you, regardless of his recent bout of success.

David Wright injury opens up room for ultra utility player

When David Wright was hit in the helmet with a Matt Cain fastball, Fernando Tatis became a third baseman again. There is a possibility that Wright will be shelved for the rest of the season, making Tatis an everyday player instead of the utility man who has hit everywhere in the Mets lineup and played every position but center field and catcher. Tatis is hitting .290 in August and has six homers and 30 RBIs on the season. He hit fifth in his first game filling in for Wright and is likely to stay around the middle of the lineup. He doesn't have enough value to be worth a pickup in mixed leagues, but third base is a thin position and he is worth an add in NL-only leagues.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia can't throw, placed on DL

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was placed on the DL with a 'sore right arm', but really they have no idea why he can't throw the ball back to the pitcher. Regardless, it has created an opportunity for young Taylor Teagarden. The 25-year-old backstop sports a revolting .187 average in limited duty, but showed some promise on Sunday, going 2-for-3 with a homer and a walk. If you can't find a solid catcher to save your life, Teagarden knows this is his time to prove he belongs in the majors. It wouldn't surprise me to see him hit for a decent average with a long ball here and there. For a catcher, that's valuable. [EDITOR'S NOTE: The Rangers have since acquired Ivan Rodriguez, who will also figure into the Texas catching situation.]

Getz out of here

White Sox second baseman Chris Getz was placed on the disabled list with a strained oblique. Jayson Nix will get a majority of the playing time while Getz is out, and brings a similar game to Getz's. Nix has nine homers and eight stolen bases in 159 at-bats. In his three starts this week, Nix had a stolen base with one homer and three RBIs. Those in AL-only leagues who owned Getz can sleep soundly by picking up Nix. Another advantage to owning Nix is his shortstop eligibility, making him a solid choice for those in leagues that have a middle infield position.

Oakland outfielder receiving more time

Ryan Sweeney has never been given the chance to play full time, but his play this past week has the 24-year-old lefty on the A's radar for a starting job in 2010. Sweeney hit .391 with seven runs, a homer, six RBIs and a stolen base in 23 at-bats. Since the break, Sweeney is hitting .290 with 15 runs and 12 RBIs. He still doesn't play every day, limiting his value in weekly leagues, but he is a nice match-up play in head-to-head leagues. He's hitting .284 against righties and 28 of his 34 RBIs have come against right-handing pitching. Those in dynasty leagues should keep an eye on Sweeney.

Rockies outfield becoming less muddled

In a crowded outfield, Carlos Gonzalez is separating from the pack. Gonzalez hit four homers and knocked in nine runs this week, primarily batting second for the Rockies. At 23, Gonzalez's name has been thrown around often as one of baseball's most promising prospects. He was sent to Colorado in the Matt Holliday trade and was called up to the big leagues in June. Since the break, Gonzalez is hitting .373 with five homers and 17 RBIs. Hitting in front of Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki, Gonzalez has a nice opportunity to contribute modestly in all five major roto categories. He's a must-add in dynasty leagues, but I'd even advocate picking him up in mixed leagues.

Later Mike Fontenot

Mike Fontenot was one of RotoExperts' top sleeper choices this season. Unfortunately, it didn't work out as planned, as Fontenot has been nothing but a disappointment. The Cubs may have finally found an answer in the form of Jeff Baker. Baker has a seven game hitting streak, with five of those being multi-hit games. He has a homer and six RBIs during that stretch, and is finding his name in the lineup on a more regular basis. Baker also has third base eligibility and can help any team hoping to improve their average.

Drop Brad Lidge

At the time of this writing, no official announcement has been made about Brad Lidge, but it can't be far off that the Phillies move in another direction concerning their closer's role. Lidge, who was a perfect 41-for-41 in save opportunities last season, has been anything but perfect this year. He's blown eight saves in 30 chances and has an 0-5 record, 7.27 ERA and 1.85 WHIP. His career BAA is .219, but it stands at .301 this year. It's obvious his confidence is shot, and there's no reason he's owned in 90 percent of leagues. Do yourself a favor and let his rotten ERA ruin somebody else's team.

Pick up Mark Ellis

Ellis has been a repeat visitor on T.I.P.S, but it isn't without reason. Since returning from the DL, Ellis is batting .347 in the last month with 19 R, 2 HR, 22 RBIs and 3 steals. In a standard 5x5 league, that is premier production at the second base position. So premier, in fact, that Ellis is the top-ranked second baseman over the past month and his 22 RBIs are also tops amongst two-baggers. It boggles my mind that he is owned in only 10 percent of fantasy leagues.

Need a starter? Try this guy

Andy Pettitte is only owned in 51 percent of leagues, but he's been one of baseball's best pitchers since the All Star break. Pettitte had a 4.85 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP before the break, but has a 2.04 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in the second half. He has only one win to show for it, but that should improve as the Yankees keep winning ball games. In 39.2 post-break IP, Pettitte has 43 Ks and only 10 walks. He's a veteran, and one that knows how to win. Let him help your fantasy team win.

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