April 12, 2010
Fantasy Clicks
Just Another Wild Day In Detroit
Carlos Guillen (center): Leon Halip/Getty Images

In an effort to make Fantasy Clicks bigger and better than ever, we'll spotlight each Sunday's most intriguing MLB game in an NFL-style Fantasy Revelations. This week's choice -- Indians vs. Tigers -- was an easy one, given the impressive offensive prodcution from both clubs ... and the not-so-stellar closing act of the Tribe's woebegone bullpen:

Detroit 9, Cleveland 8
What I Kind Of Liked: Shin-Soo Choo (solo HR) and Jhonny Peralta (2-run shot) maximized their limited effectiveness by hitting homers on Sunday. Beats a kick in the head any old day.

What I Kind Of Liked, Part II: Jake Westbrook managed to strike out seven on Sunday, which is likely more of an indictment against the see-ball/hit-ball Tigers than an endorsement of Westbrook's future success. To amplify my general dissatisfaction for Westbrook (and pretty much every other Cleveland starter), I dropped him for Rays long-reliever Andy Sonnanstine in an AL-only auction league this week. Yikes.!

What I Liked: I've been mocked incessantly by colleague Lonny Krasnow for putting great faith in shortstops Cliff Pennington (Athletics) and the Indians' Luis Valbuena in the "SI.com & Friends" league (a 15-team conglomerate); but both players have already demonstrated their worth in fantasyland. Against Detroit pitching on Sunday, Valbuena racked up a team-high two hits and four RBIs; he even launched a first-inning homer off Justin Verlander. Valbuena, who possesses 2B and SS eligiblity in most leagues, is probably more effective in AL-onlys or deeper ones like the SI league; but at the same time, he's a sneaky-good candidate for 10 HRs/15 steals/.285 batting average. In other words, he's the perfect 20th-round pick.

What I Loved: Seven Tiger batters -- Austin Jackson, Don Kelly, Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, Ramon Santiago, Scott Sizemore -- cranked out two or more hits against the Tribe. Strangely though, Detroit nearly became one of those rare teams in baseball history to churn out 18 hits in a game ... and lose.

What I Loved, Part II: Detroit's 3-4-5 hitters (Ordonez, Miggy, Guillen) amassed seven hits, five runs and four RBIs, made even more impressive by the fact Cabrera only notched three official at-bats (3-for-3).

What I Loathed: The box score for Cleveland's substitute closer, Chris Perez, reads like the line from an NFL field-goal competition: 1 IP, 3 runs, 3 earned runs allowed, 3 hits, 3 walks, 0 zero strikeouts, 1 fatal wild pitch. (Uh, not good.)

What Made Me Indifferent: Verlander yielded five hits and six runs in five innings of work; but in the grand scheme of things, this will undoubtedly rank as one of his worst three performances by season's end. So, why make a huge stink about this for roto leagues? As for head-to-head weekly leagues ... that's a different story. (Boo!)

What Made Me Say 'Yikes': Kelly, Ordonez, Guillen and Brandon Inge left a total of 21 runners on base Sunday, with Guillen leading the, ahem, pack with seven.

What Makes Me Think Of June 1: Did anyone notice that Carlos Santana, Cleveland's runaway No. 1 prospect in the minors, bombed two homers in Triple-A ball on Friday (four for the weekend). Yes, Lou Marson is currently mining the parent club's store at catcher these days ... but we all know who'll be Cleveland's Victor Martinez-like backstop for the next eight years: It begins and ends with Santana.

Fantasy 2-Pack: Pitchers

These pitchers are scheduled for two starts in Week 2 (April 12-18), making them potential gold in weekly leagues:
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
Jake Peavy, White Sox
Matt Garza, Rays
Cole Hamels, Phillies
Jon Lester, Red Sox
Jair Jurrjens, Braves
Ryan Dempster, Cubs
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Max Scherzer, Diamondbacks
Brett Anderson, Athletics
Gavin Floyd, White Sox
Wandy Rodriguez, Astros
Rich Harden, Rangers
Johnny Cueto, Reds
Andy Pettitte, Yankees
Barry Zito, Giants
Brian Matusz, Orioles
Ervin Santana, Angels
Ricky Romero, Blue Jays
Fausto Carmona, Indians
Bronson Arroyo, Reds
Carl Pavano, Twins
Doug Davis, Brewers
Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mariners
Greg Smith, Rockies
Ian Snell, Mariners
Justin Duchscherer, Athletics
Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks
Kevin Correia, Padres
John Maine, Mets
Luke Hochevar, Royals
Jason Marquis, Nationals
Nate Robertson, Marlins
Ross Ohlendorf, Pirates
Paul Maholm, Pirates
Brian Tallet, Blue Jays
Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles

Great First Impressions

Making definitive fantasy judgments on players right now -- both good and bad -- seems like an exercise in futility. Nevertheless, here's our all-star team for Week 1:
C Jorge Posada, Yankees
1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals (four homers to date -- all moon shots)
2B Placido Polanco, Phillies (batting .481 with 8 runs/RBIs)
SS Edgar Renteria, Giants
3B Jorge Cantu, Marlins
UTIL Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
OF Vernon Wells, Blue Jays
OF Chris Young, D-backs (what's the bigger shock -- .292 or zero steals?)
OF Rajai Davis, Athletics (who wouldn't take four thefts a week?)
OF Nelson Cruz, Rangers (four homers/.450 average -- the stud among studs)
OF Jason Heyward, Braves (man, myth, legend ... fantasy dynamo)
SP Mark Buehrle, White Sox
SP Dallas Braden, Athletics
SP Roy Halladay, Phillies
RP Mariano Rivera, Yankees
RP Jon Rauch, Twins (which is WHY you don't pay for saves on draft day)

The Road To Wellville

These hitters should fare quite well against average-to-subpar pitching in Week 2 (April 12-18):
Jayson Werth, Phillies (vs. Nationals, vs. Marlins)
Ryan Howard, Phillies
Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
Chase Utley, Phillies
Shane Victorino, Phillies
Placido Polanco, Phillies
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (vs. Angels, vs. Rangers)
Mark Teixeira, Yankees
Derek Jeter, Yankees
Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Jorge Posada, Yankees
Robinson Cano, Yankees
Albert Pujols, Cardinals (vs. Astros, vs. Mets)
Matt Holliday, Cardinals
Skip Schumaker, Cardinals
Colby Rasmus, Cardinals
Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals
David Freese, Cardinals
Kevin Kouzmanoff, Athletics (@ Mariners, vs. Orioles)
Kurt Suzuki, Athletics
Cliff Pennington, Athletics
Ryan Sweeney, Athletics
Rajaj Davis, Athletics
Daric Barton, Athletics

Tough Road Ahead

On the flip side ... here's a list of hitters who are likely headed for slow starts in Week 2 (April 12-18), due to poor pitching matchups. I'm not saying "Don't start 'em" ... just be wary of these guys, who'll face at least four high-quality hurlers during this period:

Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox (@ Twins, vs. Rays)
Victor Martinez, Red Sox
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Adrian Beltre, Red Sox
David Ortiz, Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
Adam Lind, Blue Jays (vs. White Sox, vs. Angels)
Travis Snider, Blue Jays
Aaron Hill, Blue Jays
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Vernon Wells, Blue Jays
Lyle Overbay, Blue Jays
Matt Kemp, Dodgers (vs. Diamondbacks, vs. Padres)
Andre Ethier, Dodgers
Russell Martin, Dodgers
James Loney, Dodgers
Casey Blake, Dodgers
Manny Ramirez, Dodgers
Chone Figgins, Mariners (vs. Athletics, vs. Tigers)
Jack Wilson, Mariners
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners
Jose Lopez, Mariners
Ken Griffey, Jr., Mariners

Charie Haeger's War (Against History)

In all my years of playing fantasy baseball, I have NEVER seen a pitcher register 12 strikeouts in a game -- especially in his seasonal debut -- and be so largely ignored. Enter Charlie Haeger, the Dodgers' No. 5 starter who racked up a dozen Ks against the Marlins on Sunday ... and yet failed to get picked up in the 15-team SI.com & Friends megaleague (once-a-week transactions every Sunday). Here's the book on Haeger, a hard-knuckleballer, courtesy of The Baseball Cube:

Minors (8 seasons): 968.1 innings, 57-62, 3.87 ERA, 673/429 K-BB ratio, 6.3 K/9, 1.41 WHIP
Major League (4 seasons): 53.0 innings, 2-3, 5.26 ERA, 39-33 K-BB ratio, 6.6 K/9, 1.57 WHIP

That Didn't Take Long, Did It?
Neftali Feliz: AP

It was an all-too-familiar refrain during the silly season, right before fantasy baseball drafts: Yeah, Neftali Feliz has great stuff, but he just doesn't have a role with the Rangers that's ideal for fantasy. Believe it or not, that statement might've had merit just six days ago; but now, thanks to the hard-to-watch, but far-from-shocking early implosion of Frank Francisco, the dynamic Feliz has reportedly been tabbed as the club's closer. Not that we're happy to see Francisco flailing in the wind here, but it's good to know that a 25th-round pick, such as Feliz, can rocket up fantasy-value charts with one big move by a manager. Feliz offers superb rates in strikeouts, K-BB ratio, ERA, WHIP -- and now saves.

It goes without saying: Grab Feliz as soon as humanly possible. Of course, by the time today's Clicks reach your computer desktop, there's a 0.000001 percent chance he'll still be available. Sorry about that (not really ... for those in my leagues).

Speaking Of Feliz ...

Here are 10 stellar long-relief or set-up men who could be big-time starters or high-end closers in the very-near future. In other words, here are the 10 best Neftali Felizes currently in the majors: (Unfortunately, Daniel Bard won't crack this list ... because he'll never supplant Jonathan Papelbon and likely won't build up to be a starter on Boston's deep staff.)

1. Tyler Clippard, Nationals (7 strikeouts in 3 innings on Saturday -- damn!)
2. Sergio Romo, Giants (my skepticism for Brian Wilson apparently knows no bounds)
3. Marc Rzepczysnki, Blue Jays (with the right break, ANYONE could be a Toronto mainstay)
4. Kris Medlen, Braves (he'd be the No. 2 starter in Kansas City)
5. Luke Gregerson, Padres (first shot at closer if/when Heath Bell gets traded?)
6. Tony Sipp, Indians (looking better by the day)
7. Ryan Perry, Tigers (pure heat with better command this year -- future closer)
8. Andy Sonnanstine, Rays (stepped up right away after Jeff Niemann's injury scare)
9. Scott Downs, Blue Jays
10. Mike Adams, Padres

Analyze This

It's always nice to tap into the geniuses at Accuscore when faced with a Player A vs. Player B quandary ... especially when the respective pitchers could be essential to AL-only success:

Bradley Bergesen vs. Ryan Rowland-Smith vs. Joel Pineiro vs. Scott Feldman
Bergesen (Accuscore yearly estimates -- April 12-Oct. 1)
8.9 wins, 4.34 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 103.8 strikeouts

Rowland-Smith (Accuscore yearly estimates)
11.9 wins, 3.93 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 97.8 strikeouts

Pineiro (Accuscore yearly estimates)
15.3 wins, 3.60 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 99.3 strikeouts

Feldman (Accuscore yearly estimates)
12.5 wins, 3.96 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 103.8 strikeouts

Verdict: Wow! You could've knocked me over with a feather on this one ... but it's Pineiro by a landslide. In fact, he could easily win all four categories from this point forward. Sold!

If I Wanted To Trade A-Rod...

Call me a sadist or trade-aholic, or maybe even a blindly loyal Yankee-hater; but just two weeks after taking Alex Rodriguez at No. 2 in the SI.com & Friends fantasy draft, I'm already laying the groundwork to trade him as part of a 2-for-1 or 3-for-2 megadeal. Don't get me wrong, A-Rod is a once-in-a-generation talent and easily the best third baseman in fantasyland this year (although Evan Longoria's closing the gap) ... but at the same time, he represents excellent value for owners who feel they might've missed the boat on five-category studs with definitive power.

Here are some speculative 2-for-1 options in the SI.com & Friends league:
A-Rod for Pablo Sandoval/Yovani Gallardo (love both players ... but probably not enough)
A-Rod for Justin Morneau/Javier Vazquez
A-Rod for David Wright/Stephen Drew
A-Rod for Mark Reynolds/B.J. Upton
A-Rod for Ian Kinsler/Joakim Soria (the preferred deal -- if I had just drafted Ian Stewart)

3-for-2 Options:
A-Rod/Justin Masterson for Brandon Phillips/Ricky Nolasco/Brett Anderson
A-Rod/Casey McGehee for Ian Stewart/Aaron Hill/Kevin Slowey
A-Rod/Corey Hart for Gordon Beckham/Jose Reyes/Scott Baker
A-Rod/James Shields for Alexei Ramirez/Nick Markakis/Cliff Lee

Depth Of Knowledge

For AL- and NL-only leagues, there is no greater draft-day resource than the official (and up-to-date) depth charts for each MLB club. In no particular order...

National League
Marlins | Braves | Mets | Phillies | Nationals

Reds | Pirates | Cubs | Brewers | Cardinals | Astros

Dodgers | Diamondbacks | Padres | Rockies | Giants

American League
Red Sox | Orioles | Rays | Yankees | Blue Jays

White Sox | Tigers | Indians | Royals | Twins

Rangers | Angels | Athletics | Mariners

Stock Report

In case you care, here's an update for the much-talked-about AND highly volatile SI.com & Friends fantasy league. It's your typical 15-team, 5x5, roto-style setup:

1. Milwaukee Schlitz (Jeff Lewis) -- 116 points (could be smoke-and-mirrors operation)
2. Cabrera's Cannibals (David Komer) -- 101.5 points (top-6 offense in all 5 categories)
3. The Youkileles (Lonny Krasnow) -- 100.5 points (maybe the best roster, pound-for-pound)
4. Tulo's Dirtbags (Scott Wraight) -- 91.5 points (Tulowitzki name/Longoria logo ... huh?)
4a. Bronx Bulldogs (Charlie Kight) -- 89 points (Upton, Wright, Ichiro, Butler ... oh my!)
6. The Juice Is Loose (Jay Clemons) -- 88 points (still looking for suitable A-Rod trade partner)
7. Albert's On The Big Mac Diet (Andrew Lamb) -- 87.5 points (ride that Gavin Floyd man-crush!)
8. Team COCO Crisp (Micah Hart) -- 87 points (six pitchers under the age of 23 -- bad omen)
9. Han(ley) Shot First (Cory McCartney) -- 75 points (investing in Freddy Sanchez never works)
10. Ruxin's Rabbits (Brandon Marcus) -- 67.5 points (good roster + poor start = fire the manager)
11. Crotch Bats (Jeff Ritter) -- 65 points (already mailing it in with move to New York City?)
11a. From First To Worst (Jon Machota) -- 65 points (not even Pujols can rescue these pitchers)
13. Being Kenny Powers (Bobby Kight) -- 61 points (bottom-4 in six categories -- holy jeez!))
14. Lenny Loves Twizzlers (Drew Packham) -- 59.5 points (stuck in mud with crucial Runs/HRs)
15. Kershawshank Redemption (Danny Lampson) -- 46 points (solid nucleus + shaky fringe players = bottom's up!)

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