July 15, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
MLB All-Star Game Revelations
Curtis Granderson: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

In the wake of perhaps the greatest homerless All-Star game in baseball history, I wanted to spotlight Tuesday's Midsummer Classic in Fantasy Clicks. It was either a breakdown of this game ... or the WNBA matchup of Los Angeles @ Connecticut. And believe me, it's just way too early in the season to deconstruct the ladies of We Got Next:

American League 4, National League 3
What I Liked: From innings 3-9, seven AL pitchers (Mark Buehrle, Zack Greinke, Edwin Jackson, Felix Hernandez, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera) allowed zero hits. In fact, Nathan was the only pitcher among the Magnificent Seven to yielded a walk. That kind of production, people, is exactly why the Senior Circuiteers haven't won an All-Star Game since 1996.

What I Liked, Part II: Greinke gets special mention here for being the only pitcher to record two strikeouts on the night.

What I Liked, Part III: Since we're giving out incidental kudos ... Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson was the lone All-Star to register a stolen base.

What I Liked, Part IV: Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter wins the Most Resourceful Player To Not Get A Hit award. Yes, he officially went 0-for-2, but he also scored both times he reached base (hit by pitch/fielder's choice). Here's an amazing side note: Jeter is 10-0 in All-Star Games.

What I Loved: Joe Mauer's opposite-field double to deadlock the score at 3-all was a thing of absolute beauty. I especially loved the pumped-fist emotion that the usually stoic Mauer showed after getting the two-out hit; after all, who knows if his Twins will be representing the American League in Game 1 of the World Series (which would be at the Metrodome).

What I Loved, Part II: The Tigers fan in me was especially thrilled to see Curtis Granderson triple in the 8th inning and then score on Adam Jones' perfectly executed RBI flyout a few moments later. Sure, Curtis looked like he was running with a piano on his back from first to second base ... but he really turned on the jets before the loooooooong slide into third base.

What I Loved, Part III: I am in awe of Mariano Rivera's uncanny ability for mowing down professional hitters in the 9th inning ... every day of every season. Rivera, who set a record with his fourth All-Star save, is the greatest cold-blooded momentum killer this game has ever known. Bar none. And this from someone -- yours truly -- who was genetically engineered to loathe the Yankees' very existence.

What I Loathed: I'm really grasping at straws here, but Rangers third baseman Michael Young was the only hitter to strand three or more runners on the basepaths. I realize this is a ticky-tack complaint ... but I must also point out that Young was my pre-game pick for MVP around the palatial SI.com offices.

What I'm Going To Remember 30 Years From Now: I'll keep this one short and sweet. Did you see Carl Crawford's home-run-defying catch in the seventh inning -- on a play which could have turned the tide of the game (along with making Brad Hawpe a household name, outside of the Greater Denver area)? Can you say, Cops and Robbersons?

Thursday's Secret Weapon

Need an emergency starting pitcher off the waiver wire in time for Thursday's games? Here's one gem to consider, as a short-term fix and/or possible long-term keeper:

Chad Gaudin, Padres (vs. Rockies)
**Boasts an excellent 39/13 K-BB ratio in his last five outings (two wins in that span)
**Has a 3.31 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in the last 30 days
**Accuscore.com projects Gaudin for another 88.3 strikeouts the rest of the season
**Has four 9-plus strikeout games in his last 10 outings
**He'll have the creature comforts of spacious Petco Park working in his favor on Thursday

**The Rockies' offense, albeit inconsistent at times, has the potential to unload 10 runs on any pitcher ... at any time (save Tim Lincecum).

Did You Know ...

Rays outfielder and noted base thief Carl Crawford is the first positional player to win All-Star MVP without racking up at least one RBI since Hall of Fame great Willie Mays accomplished the feat in 1968. (For the record, the National League won that first-ever All-Star Game at the Houston Astrodome, 1-0).

The Road To Wellville

These hitters should fare remarkably well against average-to-subpar pitching throughout Week 15 (July 16-19):

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (@ Yankees)
Brandon Inge, Tigers
Curtis Granderson, Tigers
Placido Polanco, Tigers
Magglio Ordonez, Tigers
Clete Thomas, Tigers
Marcus Thames, Tigers
Gerald Laird, Tigers
Derek Jeter, Yankees (vs. Tigers)
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
Robinson Cano, Yankees
Brett Gardner, Yankees
Mark Teixeira, Yankees
Hideki Matsui, Yankees
Nick Swisher, Yankees
Eric Hinske, Yankees
Ian Kinsler, Rangers (vs. Twins)
Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Nelson Cruz, Rangers
Hank Blalock, Rangers
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rangers
Michael Young, Rangers
Marlon Byrd, Rangers
Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Justin Morneau, Twins (@ Rangers)
Joe Mauer, Twins
Denard Span, Twins
Jason Kubel, Twins
Carlos Gomez, Twins
Michael Cuddyer, Twins
Brendan Harris, Twins
Joe Crede, Twins

Tough Road Ahead

On the flip side, these hitters are likely headed for a mini-slump in Week 15 (July 16-19), due to poor pitching matchups:

Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (@ Giants)
Adam LaRoche, Pirates
Freddy Sanchez, Pirates
Jack Wilson, Pirates
Andy LaRoche, Pirates
Ryan Doumit, Pirates
Brandon Moss, Pirates
David Wright, Mets (@ Braves)
Jeff Francoeur, Mets
Gary Sheffield, Mets
Jeremy Reed, Mets
Alex Cora, Mets
Brian Schneider, Mets
Daniel Murphy, Mets
Nick Markakis, Orioles (@ White Sox)
Luke Scott, Orioles
Adam Jones, Orioles
Nolan Reimold, Orioles
Matt Wieters, Orioles
Ty Wigginton, Orioles
Aubrey Huff, Orioles
Brian Roberts, Orioles
Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (@ Cardinals)
Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks
Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks
Eric Byrnes, Diamondbacks
Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks
Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks
Chris Young, Diamondbacks
Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
Brad Hawpe, Rockies (@ Padres)
Ian Stewart, Rockies
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
Dexter Fowler, Rockies
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
Todd Helton, Rockies
Clint Barmes, Rockies
Chris Iannetta, Rockies

Take This To The Bank

Based on Accuscore's sophisticated statistical evaluations, here are the top 25 projected Wins masters from this point forward (July 15-Oct. 1). So, grab 'em ASAP, via trade:

1. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals -- 10.3
2. Tim Lincecum, Giants -- 9.1
3. Jered Weaver, Angels -- 8.4
4. Erik Bedard, Mariners -- 8.4
5. CC Sabathia, Yankees -- 8.3
6. Javier Vazquez, Braves -- 8.2
7. Dallas Braden, Athletics -- 8.0
8. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays -- 8.0
9. Mark Buehrle, White Sox -- 7.9
10. Chad Billingsley, Dodgers -- 7.8
11. Nick Blackburn, Twins -- 7.8
12. J.A. Happ, Phillies -- 7.7
13. Jair Jurrjens, Braves -- 7.7
14. Ted Lilly, Cubs -- 7.7
15. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers -- 7.7
16. Johan Santana, Mets -- 7.6
17. Matt Cain, Giants -- 7.6
18. Jon Lester, Red Sox -- 7.6
19. James Shields, Rays -- 7.6
20. Randy Wells, Cubs -- 7.5
21. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals -- 7.5
22. Jeff Niemann, Rays -- 7.4
23. Matt Garza, Rays -- 7.4
24. Zach Duke, Pirates -- 7.4
25. Zack Greinke, Royals -- 7.3

Take This To The Bank, Part II

On the offensive side of the fence ... here are the top 25 projected Runs leaders from this point forward:

1. Chone Figgins, Angels -- 57.7
2. Ian Kinsler, Rangers -- 56.4
3. Chase Utley, Phillies -- 55.8
4. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox -- 55.7
5. Shane Victorino, Phillies -- 54.6
6. Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- 54.0
7. Brian Roberts, Orioles -- 52.9
8. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 52.6
9. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox -- 52.6
10. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins -- 52.0
11. Denard Span, Twins -- 51.9
12. Jermaine Dye, White Sox -- 50.7
13. Manny Ramirez, Dodgers -- 50.6
14. David Wright, Mets -- 50.4
15. Nate McLouth, Braves -- 50.3
16. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs -- 49.9
17. Jayson Werth, Phillies -- 49.7
18. Joe Mauer, Twins -- 49.4
19. Ryan Braun, Brewers -- 49.1
20. Jason Bay, Red Sox -- 48.8
21. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals -- 48.8
22. Curtis Granderson, Tigers -- 48.8
23. Ryan Howard, Phillies -- 48.3
24. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 47.7
25. Mark Teixeira, Yankees -- 47.7

Take This To The Bank, Part III

Last but not least ... here are the top 25 projected RBI leaders from this point forward:

1. Ryan Howard, Phillies -- 62.3
2. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 62.1
3. Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- 61.5
4. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 61.0
5. Prince Fielder, Brewers -- 59.0
6. Jason Bay, Red Sox -- 58.8
7. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees -- 58.7
8. Derrek Lee, Cubs -- 55.4
9. Mark Teixeira, Yankees -- 54.6
10. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 54.1
11. Bobby Abreu, Angels -- 54.1
12. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox -- 54.0
13. Paul Konerko, White Sox -- 52.9
14. Jermaine Dye, White Sox -- 52.9
15. Adam Dunn, Nationals -- 52.2
16. Manny Ramirez, Dodgers -- 52.0
17. Chase Utley, Phillies -- 52.0
18. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs -- 51.3
19. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 50.3
20. Brad Hawpe, Rockies -- 50.2
21. Nelson Cruz, Rangers -- 49.5
22. Aubrey Huff, Orioles -- 49.5
23. Josh Hamilton, Rangers -- 49.5
24. Torii Hunter, Angels -- 49.4
25. Jose Lopez, Mariners -- 49.4

We Interrupt Fantasy Clicks ...

... To announce the arrival of Sports Illustrated's fantasy football spectacular, available online and at magazine racks nationwide. This 168-page tome is chock-full of rankings, columns (two from yours truly), features, draft-day advice, in-season strategies, booms, busts and an experts' mock draft, enlisting an army of SI's award-winning fantasy and NFL writers (including Peter King). Last but not least, it boasts perhaps the coolest cover of any fantasy magazine you'll ever see!

Am I overselling it a little bit? Perhaps. But the early feedback I've gotten from my fantasy brethren suggests SI's first major foray into fantasy football will be an absolute triumph -- and that it could become an all-time best seller within the genre.

Running Hot

All-Star snub aside, Pablo Sandoval has been a fantasy monster in the last month, hitting .356 (36-for-101) with 18 runs, 10 homers, 28 RBIs and two steals on his résumé since June 15. And yet, the Giants third baseman (with 1B eligibility) can easily be had in trade talks ... for the low, low price of a bigger "name" player with good-to-middling stats. Don't believe me? Well, try pitching one of these deals (below) in your fantasy league ... and we'll see just how much weight Big Sandy's first-half run carries with skeptical fantasy owners:

**Sandoval for Alex Rios
**Sandoval for Jimmy Rollins
**Sandoval for Alfonso Soriano
**Sandoval for Scott Kazmir
**Sandoval for Jake Peavy
**Sandoval for Adam Wainwright
**Sandoval for Carlos Zambrano
**Sandoval/Denard Span for Troy Tulowitzki/Cliff Lee
**Sandoval/Edwin Jackson for Rich Harden/Brian Roberts
**Sandoval/Matt Cain for Daisuke Matsuzaka/Kevin Youkilis
**Sandoval/Nyjer Morgan for Jered Weaver/Russell Martin
**Sandoval/Randy Wells for Hideki Matsui/Andre Ethier/Pedro Martinez
**Sandoval/Jason Bartlett/Javier Vazquez for Jonathan Broxton/Aaron Harang/Jim Thome

Stock Report

In case you care, here's an update for the much-talked-about AND highly volatile SI.com & Friends fantasy league. This week's standings hold greater importance than usual, since there's a bonus paid out to the team that makes the biggest jump in points AFTER the All-Star break:

1. This Week's TWIB Notes (Jay Clemons) -- 95 points (I'm 1st or 2nd in five categories ... boom!)
2. Pete Rose's Best (Tim Dwyer) -- 91 points (needs a Dave Kingman/Tony Armas-like HR boost)
3. Teixeira's Slow Start (Jon Machota) -- 87.5 points (pound-for-pound, perhaps the best club)
4. Being Kenny Powers (Bobby Kight) -- 86 points (If this were real baseball, the Kight Brothers ...)
5. Prestige Worldwide (Charlie Kight) -- 83 points (... would just throw money at their problems)
6. The Farmer John Family (Scott Wraight) -- 82.5 points (must play the J-Reyes waiting game)
7. Downtown Killer B's (Mike Bernaiche) -- 78.5 points (must replace Giambi/Cust/McCarthy)
8. Krasmanian Devils (Lonny Krasnow) -- 73 points (not bad for autodraft team/stand-pat owner)
9. Hoboken Highlanders (David Katz) -- 69.5 points (time to deal Manny, Kemp or Han-Ram?)
10. Packham Mortuary (Drew Packham) -- 68.5 points (former leader primed for second-half rally)
11. The Funcookers (Jeff Ritter) -- 61.5 points (pondering my V-Mart for Wieters/Danks offer)
12. Joker Marchants (Josh Wymer) -- 60.5 points (dead-last in three pitching categories ... yikes!)
13. Brandon & Jason Show (Marcus/Schwartz) -- 57.5 points (imploding in Runs, RBIs and steals)
14. Hackensack Bulls (Cory McCartney) -- 56 points (the reconstruction begins with Miggy/Yunel)

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