July 19, 2011

You asked at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account, and your wish is my command.

Give Ubaldo Jimenez, get Jay Bruce -- thoughts?-- @alistairjhogg

Ah, the case of Jay Bruce strikes again.

Bruce, the talented outfielder for the Reds, runs as hot as Jennifer Aniston in Horrible Bosses and as cold as a snake whose heat lamp has blown a bulb. Bruce was arguably the best batter in baseball in May, hitting .342 with 12 homers, 33 RBI and 23 runs scored for the month (28 games). However, over his other 64 games played this year he's hit only nine homers, knocked in 24 runs, scored 29 times and hit .227. Yikes is right. Regardless of the nausea-inducing ride, Bruce is still on pace to hit 35 homers with 97 RBI, 88 runs and 10 steals, and that is some serious production. However, you take the risk of adding the "ugly" Bruce -- there's no guarantee that Jennifer Aniston is going to frolic for you, so there's certain risk in adding the schizophrenic outfielder.

Jimenez has had a renaissance of late. Over his last nine outings he had gone 5-3, but it's his ratios that really sparkle. Over his last 59.2 innings Jimenez has a 2.56 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8.1 K/9 and a superb 4.15 K/BB ratio. As a result of his recent hot streak his numbers this season compare quite nicely to his career numbers.

2011: 8.08 K/9, 3.51 BB/9, 1.39 GB/FB, 0.65 HR/9, 1.31 WHIP, 3.59 xFIPCareer: 8.09 K/9, 3.90 BB/9, 1.60 GB/FB, 0.57 HR/9, 1.27 WHIP, 3.83 xFIP

With the way that Jimenez is locked in right now, and the guessing game you have to play with Bruce, I'd side with Jimenez in this comparison.

Is it time to move on from Justin Smoak?-- @pied1

If you're in a 10- or 12-team mixed league, the answer is yes. If you're in a 15-team mixed league, though, the answer is much more open ended because of his current struggles (obviously the homers, 12, and RBI, 43, make him a viable AL-only option even with his batting average in the dumps at .227).

After hitting .284 in April with a .920 OPS, it has been all down hill for Smoak. His runs total, RBI total, batting average and OBP have declined each month since April. Moreover, since the calendar flipped to May, Smoak has appeared in 64 games with a slash line of .209/.301/.372. He has hit a home run every 29.25 ABs in that time, but given that the league average slash line this season is .255/.322/.399 you can easily determine that Smoak, as a first base option, has been a huge drag on your team if he's been in your lineup. Would I move on from Smoak in a mixed league? Yes. In fact, I'm so down on the guy right now, relative to the mashers at first base, that I didn't even list him in my top-20 at first in my Rest of the Way Rankings for Hitters.

In a 13-team league, 5x5 roto, would you stash Stephen Strasburg as keeper for 25th round pick?-- @Kossdaboss7

Word out of Washington is that Strasburg's recovery from Tommy John surgery is going so well that he might appear in the big leagues in the month of September. Regardless of whether or not that comes to fruition, there is near 100 percent certainty that he will be back to full strength on Opening Day 2012.

Does that mean you should keep him at the cost of a 25th-round selection? Yes. Reasonable expectations should set the upper bar at 160 innings for Strasburg next year, that's how many innings the Nats are going to limit their other young Tommy John survivor -- Jordan Zimmerman -- to this year. Still, 160 innings is plenty to siphon off 25th round value from Strasburg.

Though Strasburg only has 68 big league innings under his belt, let's use his performance in that time as a baseline for expectations. Let's further postulate that he returns 75 percent of his '10 performance. What would that net you? How about a 3.64 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 9.14 K/9 and a 4.05 K/BB ratio. If he were to do that over 160 innings he would still more than warrant a 25th round protection.

Who is better to roster assuming they take over the closer role for their team due to trade -- Mike Adams or Mike Dunn?-- @slappzilla

The rumor mill suggests that Heath Bell will be dealt out of San Diego with the assumption being that Adams will take over as the closer.

The rumor mill also suggests that Leo Nunez will be dealt out of Florida with the assumption being that Dunn could take over as the closer.

However, both situations are hairy. Not only are we making decisions based upon supposition, there are issues with both replacement arms. While Adams would certainly be the first choice to take over in San Diego, the same reports that suggest that Bell will be moved are also saying that Adams is available for the right price. If Adams is dealt it seems quite possible that he could remain in a setup role. As for Dunn, there has been no official mention of who the favorite would be to take over in the ninth inning with names like Edward Mujica and Randy Choate also in the mix (and don't forget about Steve Cishek).

So whom would I suggest adding? Go with the pitcher with the best skills (remember the motto, go for skills vs. role). Dunn has a nice arm with a 10.64 K/9 rate in his career, but that 6.52 BB/9 mark might even make Carlos Marmol blush. It's damn near impossible to count on a guy who can't throw strikes. As for Adams, here are his rankings among all pitchers who have thrown at least 125 innings since the start of the '09 season:

1st in ERA (1.35)1st in base runners per nine (7.67)1st in hits per nine (5.22)14th in K/BB (4.00).

Give me Mr. Adams, who is one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball when healthy.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive, 5-8 PM Eastern, on Sirius 210 and XM 87. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at fantasyfandom@yahoo.com.

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