May 11, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Sunday Afternoon Revelations
Albert Pujols: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In the interest of making Clicks bigger and better than ever, we'll spotlight each Sunday's most fantasy-friendly game, NFL Revelations-style. And wouldn't you know it, I picked a National League game for the first time all season (Phillies-Braves on April 5 doesn't necessarily count -- it was the only game that day):

Cardinals 8, Reds 7 (10 innings)
What I Liked: Heralded rookie (and recent & Friends pickup) Colby Rasmus collected one run, two hits and two RBIs, including the game-winning RBI double in the 10th inning. It's still too early to gauge if Rasmus' minor-league dominance will translate to major-league stardom. But with Rick Ankiel on the DL for another few weeks, he'll get an unobstructed chance to shine for the surprisingly stellar Cards.

What I Liked, Part II: Albert Pujols enhanced his standing as MLB's No. 1 fantasy stud by successfully stealing his fifth base on the season. Willy Taveras (one steal; seven on the year) also confirmed his status as a quality steals option for fantasy owners who can absorb the, ahem, hit in HRs and RBIs.

What I Loved: Four Reds batters (Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Adam Rosales, Jerry Hairston, Jr.) and one pitcher (Micah Owings) launched homers at Great American Ballpark on Sunday ... which brings me to this: There needs to be a special exemption for Owings' hitting stats in fantasyland (6 HRs, 25 RBIs in two-plus seasons). If he were to blow out his arm today, he'd be on my fantasy roster as a full-time hitter tomorrow!

What I Loved, Part II: Pujols crushed his National League-leading 12th homer. For all those who picked him No. 1 over Hanley Ramirez in late-March drafts, and over Alex Rodriguez in early-March drafts ... congrats, ya beautiful bastards!

What Makes Me Cringe: It's impossible to definitively choose amongst the Cardinals' three-headed closing monster right now. Chris Perez, Ryan Franklin and Jason Motte all have a knack for dominating the world one day ... and falling flat the next. In fact, Franklin (1.23 ERA on the year) should be thanking his lucky stars that he blew a save, and yet picked up the win. Good relievers aren't judged on victories, though.

What Makes Me Cringe, Part II: It's good to see Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips slowly breaking out of his April malaise (.354 average, 4 HR, 13 RBIs in the last 15 days). However, I'm a little worried Phillips (four steals) will fall woefully short of 30 stolen bases. And isn't that WHY you moved heaven and earth to grab him in Round 3 of mixed-league drafts?

Fantasy 2-Pack: Pitchers

These pitchers are scheduled for two starts in Week 6 (May 11-17). Hence, they're potential gold in weekly leagues:

Johan Santana, Mets
Randy Johnson, Giants
Jake Peavy, Padres
Derek Lowe, Braves
Rich Harden, Cubs
A.J. Burnett, Yankees
Jordan Zimmerman, Nationals
Justin Masterson, Red Sox
Todd Wellemeyer, Cardinals
Carl Pavano, Indians
Chan Ho Park, Phillies
Zach Duke, Pirates
Sidney Ponson (or Luke Hochevar), Royals
Jeremy Sowers, Indians
Daniel Cabrera, Nationals
Scott Feldman, Rangers
Andy Sonnanstine, Rays
Manny Parra, Brewers
Jon Garland, Angels
Bronson Arroyo, Reds
Mike Pelfrey, Mets
Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies
Kevin Slowey, Twins
Armando Galarraga, Tigers
Gavin Floyd, White Sox
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Jered Weaver, Angels
Matt Cain, Giants
Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
Felipe Paulino, Astros
Mark Hendrickson, Orioles
John Koronka, Marlins
Jason Vargas, Mariners (I know what you're saying ... Who?)

Today's Special

For every baseball Clicks, I will select the best mixed-league pitching prospect -- likely available on the waiver wire -- who's also taking the mound that day or evening. The intent, of course, is to provide a quick boost in your hunt for a fantasy title ... just don't send me any threatening emails after the featured hurler flames out, like all Schleprocks are prone to do sometimes. After all, there's a reason why Anthony Ortega can be had in any mixed league around the world right now:

Carl Pavano, Indians (vs. White Sox)
**Has posted back-to-back stellar starts (13.1 IP, 4 runs allowed, 7 Ks, 2 wins)
**Possesses the capacity for 140 strikeouts in a full season
**Has allowed two or fewer runs in three outings this year
**Possesses a stellar ERA/WHIP combo of 2.70/1.05 in the last 15 days
**Will never kill your WHIP, due to a stunningly low walk rate (for him, at least)
**The Indians (coming off an anemic sweep at the hands of the Tigers) are due for a mini-breakout

**The White Sox hitters always start to heat up with the weather in May
**This is Carl Pavano we're taking about here ... who knows what we'll get

Positional Assumptions

In most leagues, a player becomes eligible for a new position once he's played five games at that spot in the current season. Here's a list of players who have either earned new-position eligibility ... or are on the cusp of accomplishing this often-overlooked and underappreciated status:

3B Chris Davis, Rangers (now 1B-eligible)
2B Jose Lopez, Mariners (now 1B-eligible)
2B Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins (now 3B-eligible)
DH Jason Giambi, Athletics (now 1B-eligible)
2B Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (now SS-eligible)
3B/1B Carlos Guillen, Tigers (now OF-eligible)
1B Conor Jackson, Diamondbacks (now 1B-eligible)
1B Pablo Sandoval, Giants (now 3B-eligible)
2B Mark DeRosa, Indians (now 3B-eligible; could be OF-eligible by July 1)
OF Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks (now 2B-eligible)
OF Skip Schumaker, Cardinals (now 2B-eligible)
3B Garrett Atkins, Rockies (now 1B-eligible)
OF Adam Dunn, Nationals (should be 1B-eligible by June 1)
2B Mark Teahen, Royals (now 3B-eligible, thanks to Alex Gordon's injury)
SS Michael Young, Rangers (now 3B-eligible)
3B Jorge Cantu, Marlins (now 1B-eligible)
2B Alexei Ramirez, White Sox (now SS-eligible)
C Victor Martinez, Indians (now 1B-eligible)
OF Kendry Morales, Angels (now 1B-eligible)
SS Ben Zobrist, Rays (now OF-eligible)
OF Nick Swisher, Yankees (now 1B-eligible)
3B/SS Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays (should be 2B-eligible by June 15)
3B Ian Stewart, Rockies (now 2B- and OF-eligible)

The Road To Wellville

These hitters should fare remarkably well against average-to-subpar pitching throughout Week 6 (May 11-17):

Ian Kinsler, Rangers (vs. Mariners, vs. Angels)
Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Nelson Cruz, Rangers
Chris Davis, Rangers
Marlon Byrd, Rangers
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rangers
Michael Young, Rangers
Josh Hamilton, Rangers (could be back this week)
Joe Mauer, Twins (vs. Tigers, @ Yankees)
Justin Morneau, Twins
Jason Kubel, Twins
Denard Span, Twins
Michael Cuddyer, Twins
Joe Crede, Twins
Delmon Young, Twins
Jermaine Dye, White Sox (@ Indians, @ Blue Jays -- avoids Roy Halladay)
Carlos Quentin, White Sox
Jim Thome, White Sox
A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
Chris Getz, White Sox
Josh Fields, White Sox
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (vs. Astros, @ Pirates)
Garrett Atkins, Rockies
Dexter Fowler, Rockies
Brad Hawpe, Rockies
Chris Iannetta, Rockies
Todd Helton, Rockies
Evan Longoria, Rays (@ Orioles, vs. Indians)
Carl Crawford, Rays
Jason Bartlett, Rays
B.J. Upton, Rays
Akinori Iwamura, Rays
Pat Burrell, Rays
Carlos Pena, Rays

Tough Road Ahead

On the flip side, these hitters are likely headed for a mini-slump in Week 6 (May 11-17), due to poor pitching matchups. I'm not saying "Don't start 'em" ... just be wary of these guys facing at least four top-end hurlers during this period:

Jose Reyes, Mets (vs. Braves, @ Giants)
David Wright, Mets
Carlos Delgado, Mets
Carlos Beltran, Mets
Daniel Murphy, Mets
Ryan Church, Mets
Luis Castillo, Mets
Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (vs. Reds, @ Braves)
Conor Jackson, Diamondbacks
Chris Young, Diamondbacks
Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks
Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks
Chris Snyder, Diamondbacks
Chad Tracy, Diamondbacks
Jeff Francoeur, Braves (@ Mets, vs. Diamondbacks)
Kelly Johnson, Braves
Yunel Escobar, Braves
Brian McCann, Braves
Jordan Schafer, Braves
Garret Anderson, Braves
Casey Kotchman, Braves

Obligatory A-Rod Update

Not to steal a passage from Bill Murray's somewhat unstable character in the underrated classic What About Bob? ... but there are two kinds of fantasy owners in this world: Those who believe Alex Rodriguez's moon-shot HR in his first MLB at-bat on Friday was a sign of great fantasy things to come ... or those who viewed A-Rod's majestic homer off Jeremy Guthrie as the perfect opportunity to "sell high" on baseball's biggest lightning-rod figure (and that includes Manny Ramirez). I, without shame, belong to the latter group.

Look, of course I applaud A-Rod for his Baltimore blast; what a relief to quiet the naysayers about steroids or making way-too-quick recoveries from hip surgery. But as I've been saying all along, I'm not worried about A-Rod's penchant for the occassional long ball and capacity for racking up RBIs in the Yankees' potent lineup. Instead, I have serious reservations about his batting average (nothing over .275), runs scored (maybe 75) and steals (less than six) -- which greatly diminishes his value in mixed- and AL-only leagues -- and I've seen no evidence to refute my short-term beliefs. In fact, if you're looking to sell high on A-Rod, here are some attractive 1-for-1 options:

*A-Rod for SP Zack Greinke, Royals (there's a sucker born every minute)
*A-Rod for RP Joe Nathan, Twins
*A-Rod for OF Carl Crawford, Rays
*A-Rod for 1B Justin Morneau, Twins
*A-Rod for OF Nick Markakis, Orioles
*A-Rod for OF Carlos Quentin, White Sox
*A-Rod for SP Felix Hernandez, M's (a risky proposition ... but one worth exploring)
*A-Rod for 2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

Playing The Commish

I'm proud to be commissioner of the & Friends fantasy baseball league (two years running). It's a role I take seriously -- but not too seriously. Here's a perfect example of my aggressive-passive leadership: On Friday, I overheard a pair of owners (Cory McCartney and Scott Wraight) discuss a possible 2-for-2 trade at work (Cory has the cubicle next to mine). They eventually settled on McCartney surrendering Edinson Volquez/Russell Martin, while getting Javier Vazquez/Kurt Suzuki in return. Now, on the surface, it would seem that Wraight is getting the far better end of this deal, when playing the "name" game. But I also knew that Cory was looking for an upgrade in wins, ERA and WHIP (with Vazquez) and wanted to shed Dodgers hitters (like Martin) from his roster -- in the wake of Manny's 50-game suspension -- and viewed Suzuki as a sneaky-good prospect at catcher (he's hitting .326 with 10 runs, 2 HRs and 14 RBIs since April 11).

Fast forward to five minutes after the trade became official: One of our fellow owners (who shall remain nameless) vehemently complained to me, via IM ... demanding that I rescind the "ridiculous" trade ( & Friends doesn't have a veto system). But I calmly held my ground, explaining to him that it's a commissioner's job to keep everything (and everyone) on the up-and-up -- NOT to play the God of Fair/Unfair Trades.

Assuming you're a league commish and that you know all its members (either personally or through a friend), it's your obligation to trust people when conducting transactions. It's your duty to empower the other owners to make whatever improvements they see fit -- even if a trade appears lopsided, at first blush.

The Untouchables

Gut feelings aside, these stars should NOT be dealt in any garden-variety 1-for-1 or 2-for-2 swap this season: (If you're using them as a means to a blissfully lopsided trade in your favor ... then, by all means, do the deed!)

Ian Kinsler, Rangers
Evan Longoria, Rays
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Carlos Quentin, White Sox
Carl Crawford, Rays
Joe Mauer, Twins (a 9th-round steal for risk-taking owners)
Matt Kemp, Dodgers
Victor Martinez, Indians
Jermaine Dye, White Sox
Grady Sizemore, Indians
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
Andre Ethier, Dodgers
Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Justin Morneau, Twins
Chase Utley, Phillies

Starting Pitchers
Johan Santana, Mets
Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
Zack Greinke, Royals (just like the SI cover says ... the best in the biz)
CC Sabathia, Yankees (don't let the slow start fool ya)
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins (ditto for Nolasco)
Erik Bedard, Mariners
Tim Lincecum, Giants
Chad Billingsley, Dodgers
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Dan Haren, Diamondbacks
Jake Peavy, Padres
Justin Verlander, Tigers (there's no knocking him when he's white-hot)
James Shields, Rays

Relief Pitchers
Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
Joe Nathan, Twins
Francisco Rodriguez, Mets
Matt Capps, Pirates
Francisco Cordero, Reds
Mariano Rivera, Yankees
Heath Bell, Padres
Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers
Joakim Soria, Royals (grab Juan Cruz while he's on the DL)

Total Bases Recall
Vernon Wells: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

For the loyal Clicks readers of fantasy football, you've heard me prattle on a thousand times about the importance of Targets -- the number of times a receiver is thrown to -- and how it's a fail-safe method for evaluating receivers. Well, I am equally passionate (fanatical?) about Total Bases in fantasy baseball. By my way of thinking, TB is the perfect convergence of coveting power hitters and on-base machines who make a living from doubles. It's also a stellar indicator of future success. Here are the top 31 leaders in total bases (through May 10):

1. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 92
2. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays -- 84
3. Ian Kinsler, Rangers -- 80
4. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 78
5. Victor Martinez, Indians -- 77
6. Carlos Pena, Rays -- 77
7. Adam Jones, Orioles -- 75
8. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals -- 75
9. Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- 74
10. Adam Lind, Blue Jays -- 74
11. Michael Young, Rangers -- 73
12. Jason Bay, Red Sox -- 72
13. Johnny Damon, Yankees -- 72
14. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 72
15. Nick Markakis, Orioles -- 71
16. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs -- 71
17. Adam Dunn, Nationals -- 70
18. Mike Lowell, Red Sox -- 70
19. Carlos Beltran, Mets -- 69
20. Ryan Braun, Brewers -- 69
21. Orlando Hudson, Dodgers -- 69
22. Robinson Cano, Yankees -- 68
23. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres -- 68
24. Carlos Lee, Astros -- 67
25. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins -- 67
26. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays -- 67
27. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 66
28. Freddy Sanchez, Pirates -- 64
29. Rickie Weeks, Brewers -- 64
30. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox -- 64
31. Torii Hunter, Angels -- 63

Running Hot

In years past, I have stated my fantasy disdain for Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, one of those "annoying" players who offers more real-world value than fantasyland excitement. But who am I to argue with Zimmerman's 28-game hitting streak? During this run (which includes only one hitless game all season), he's tallied 22 runs, 6 HRs, 21 RBIs and a scalding-hot batting average of .360 (40-111) -- the kind of numbers that Chipper Jones, Chone Figgins, Chris Davis, Adrian Beltre and even Alex Rodriguez would kill for at this point in the season. Zimmerman has the perfect brand of mild-mannered temperament to extend the streak into the 30s and -- dare I say it -- into Pete Rose territory (44 games). But to suggest that he's a prime candidate for Joe DiMaggio's all-time record of 56 is absolutely moronic ... so I won't even go there.

Here's where I will venture, though: If you're lukewarm on Zimmerman's seasonlong fantasy excellence (like me), now's the perfect time to strike a "sell-high" deal involving an owner who's desperate for 3B or corner infield help. Here are a few 1-for-2 trade suggestions:

*Zimmerman for Edwin Jackson/Aubrey Huff
*Zimmerman for Clayton Kershaw/Brandon Phillips
*Zimmerman for Cliff Lee/Howie Kendrick
*Zimmerman for David Price/James Loney
*Zimmerman for Chad Qualls/Chris Davis

Running Cold

If ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball figures are correct, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz hasn't launched a home run in his past 116 at-bats -- the longest drought of his major-league career. If you're looking to "sell moderately low" on Big Papi, here a few 1-for-1 trade suggestions:

*Ortiz for OF Alex Rios
*Ortiz for SP Matt Cain
*Ortiz for 2B Dan Uggla
*Ortiz for C Matt Wieters
*Ortiz for SP Jon Lester

The Missing Links

Need a helping hand with your fantasy baseball research? Well, here are the Web sites that I check every morning (and night) -- all in the name of 24/7 roster improvements:

**Baseball America
**Baseball America's 2009 Top Prospects
**Rotowire Player Search Database (great for targeting prospects)
**'s Stats page
**'s Fantasy Page
**Baseball Prospectus
**The Hardball Times
**Dallas Morning News' Rangers blog (co-writers Richard Durrett, Jeff Wilson)
**Seattle Times' Mariners blog (Geoff Baker, author)

Postscript: It goes without saying, you MUST become a regular subscriber (or at least make it a "Favorite" on your desktop) to your players' team blogs in respective newspapers (like Arizona Republic writer Nick Piecoro's engaging insight on Diamondbacks Justin Upton, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds, Stephen Drew, Dan Haren, Chad Qualls, etc.). These sites should be your daily lifeline when conducting research. And for those playing in AL- or NL-only leagues, your absolute best friend from April to September should be the ever-changing depth charts running on's team pages.

Stock Report

In case you care, here's an update for the much-talked-about, but rarely seen & Friends fantasy league. It's your typical 14-team, 5x5, roto-style setup:

1. Being Kenny Powers (Bobby Kight) -- 94 points (the defending champ ... back on top!)
2. The Funcookers (Jeff Ritter) -- 90 points (blown lead aside, still has great balance)
3. Pete Rose's Best Bet (Tim Dwyer) -- 89.5 points (essentially top-5 in six categories ... wow!)
4. The Brandon & Jason Show (Marcus/Schwartz) -- 87.5 points (very few holes to mention)
5. Hackensack Bulls (Cory McCartney) -- 85 points (Johnny Cueto ... fantasy MVP?)
6. The Farmer John Family (Scott Wraight) -- 83 points (pedestrian hitting could be his downfall)
7. Packham Mortuary (Drew Packham) -- 80.5 points (superb pitching depth across the board)
8. Prestige Worldwide (Charlie Kight) -- 79 points (WHIP's the only thing holding him back)
9. Hoboken Highlanders (David Katz) -- 74.5 points (help wanted in victories and HRs)
10. This Week's TWIB Notes (Jay Clemons) -- 72.5 points (getting rocked in 4 pitching categories)
11. Machota's Bums (Jon Machota) -- 70 points (I'm shocked he's down here with the dregs)
12. Downtown Killer B's (Mike Bernaiche) -- 51 points (slowly digging out of a daunting April hole)
13. Capital City Goofballs (Josh Wymer) -- 47 points (essentially punting runs, ERA and WHIP)
14. Krasmanian Devils (Lonny Krasnow) -- 46 points (the king of indifferent 'autopick' owners)

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