May 15, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Chris Davis ... Built For Fun
Chris Davis: AP

Just four short days ago, it was my full intention to spend a mini-section on Chris Davis in Fantasy Clicks, detailing how savvy owners could essentially steal the Rangers' struggling slugger at a reasonable, "buy-low" trade rate. But in light of Davis' 7-hit, 6-RBI, 4-run, 3-HR surge from May 10-14, I suppose that plan should be scrapped, eh?

Make no mistake here: If given the choice between Davis (21 runs, 10 HRs, 20 RBIs, .239 average) and/or Miguel Cabrera, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira and Joey Votto, I'd still want the other guys in short-term, non-keeper fantasy leagues. But at the same time, the 23-year-old Davis has a strong chance of crushing more homers than any other first baseman in '09, has the potential to hit .295 in the majors and could very well be the difference-maker during the fantasy pennant drives in September. So, let's roll up our sleeves and find a creative way of landing the sweet-swinging stud as part of a 2-for-2 trade offer. (You'll also get an impact first-year player as a throw-in.)

**Davis and Brewers hotshot prospect Mat Gamel for Jon Lester/Ryan Zimmerman
**Davis and Rangers hotshot pitcher Netfali Perez for Hideki Matsui/Kerry Wood
**Davis and Marlins prospect Chris Coghlan for Doug Davis/Corey Hart
**Davis and Indians hotshot prospect Matt LaPorta for Johnny Damon/Scott Kazmir
**Davis and Rangers prized pitcher Derek Holland for Armando Galarraga/Andre Ethier

And how about this 2-for-3 blockbuster (preferably to someone who lives in the Northeast):
**Davis and David Price for David Ortiz/Brad Lidge/Carlos Beltran

WHIP Masters

The following is a list of Major League Baseball's best performers in the all-hallowed WHIP category since April 15 (minimum 19 innings):

SP Zach Greinke, Royals (0.67)
SP Dan Haren, Diamondbacks (0.88)
SP Tim Lincecum, Giants (0.92)
SP Johnny Cueto, Reds (0.93)
SP Dave Bush, Brewers (0.95)
SP Koji Uehara, Orioles (0.95)
SP Jered Weaver, Angels (0.95)
SP Wandy Rodriguez, Astros (0.97)
SP Yovani Gallardo, Brewers (0.97)
SP Matt Palmer, Angels (0.98)
SP Johan Santana, Mets (0.99)
SP Scott Feldman, Rangers (1.01)
SP Justin Verlander, Tigers (1.02)
SP Ross Ohlendorf, Pirates (1,03)
SP Edinson Volquez, Reds (1.04)
SP Roy Halladay, Blue Jays (1.04)
SP Matt Garza, Rays (1.05)
SP Jair Jurrjens, Braves (1.05)
SP Randy Wolf, Dodgers (1.07)
SP Ted Lilly, Cubs (1.08)
SP Javier Vazquez, Braves (1.09)
SP Joe Saunders, Angels (1.10)
SP Josh Johnson, Marlins (1.11)
SP CC Sabathia, Yankees (1.11)
SP Chris Volstad, Marlins (1.13)
SP Mark Buehrle, White Sox (1.13)
SP Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies (1.13)
RP Lance Cormier, Rays (1.16)
SP Vicente Padilla, Rangers (1.16)
SP Brian Bannister, Royals (1.17)
SP Edwin Jackson, Tigers (1.17)
SP Kevin Millwood, Rangers (1.17)
SP Zach Duke, Pirates (1.18)
SP Rick Porcello, Tigers (1.19)

Earning Their Stripes

One good turn deserves another. Here are baseball's leading ERA kings since April 15 (minimum 19 innings):

SP Zack Greinke, Royals (0.64)
SP Johan Santana, Mets (0.81)
SP Johnny Cueto, Reds (1.33)
SP Wandy Rodriguez, Astros (1.36)
SP Cliff Lee, Indians (1.43)
RP D.J. Carrasco, White Sox (1.80)
SP Brian Bannister, Royals (1.80)
SP Yovani Gallardo, Brewers (1.80)
RP Brian Bass, Orioles (1.89)
SP Jair Jurrjens, Braves (1.95)
SP John Lannan, Nationals (2.08)
SP Dan Haren, Diamondbacks (2.09)
RP Lance Cormier, Rays (2.14)
SP Tim Lincecum, Giants (2.25)
SP Edwin Jackson, Tigers (2.27)
SP Dallas Braden, Athletics (2.40)
RP Randy Wolf, Dodgers (2.48)
SP Chad Billingsley, Dodgers (2.60)
SP Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies (2.61)
SP Joe Saunders, Angels (2.67)
SP Roy Halladay, Blue Jays (2.68)
SP Erik Bedard, Mariners (2.76)
SP Jered Weaver, Angels (2.85)
SP Doug Davis, Diamondbacks (2.87)
SP Edinson Volquez, Reds (2.94)
SP Koji Uehara, Orioles (3.03)
SP Ted Lilly, Cubs (3.06)
SP Chris Volstad, Marlins (3.13)
SP Josh Johnson, Marlins (3.15)
SP Mark Buehrle, White Sox (3.21)
SP Scott Feldman, Rangers (3.28)
SP Justin Verlander, Tigers (3.31)
SP Matt Cain, Giants (3.32)
SP Barry Zito, Giants (3.35)
SP Zach Duke, Pirates (3.38)
SP Aaron Laffey, Indians (3.38)
SP Matt Palmer, Angels (3.38)
SP Vicente Padilla, Rangers (3.58)
SP Dave Bush, Brewers (3.58)
SP Jeff Suppan, Brewers (3.60)
SP Ian Snell, Pirates (3.60)
SP Mike Pelfrey, Mets (3.60)

Today's Special

For every baseball Clicks, I will spotlight the best mixed-league pitching prospect -- likely available on the waiver wire -- who's also taking the mound that day/evening. My 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 Mitchell Boggs can be had in any mixed league in the world right now:

Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies (at Pirates)
**Averaging one strikeout per inning; he also has a solid 35/12 K-BB ratio
**Has allowed only nine earned runs in his last five starts
**Will never decimate your WHIP, due to a low walks rate
**Coming off a 12-strikeout, 1-walk gem against the Marlins
**Going against an inconsistent Pirates team on Friday
**Had a white-hot finish to the '08 season (2.31 combined ERA, 50 Ks in August/September)
**At 0-3, he's absolutely due for a victory

**The Pirates are a respectable 9-8 at home

Who Is This Guy?

I don't know what to make of Matt Palmer's 4-0 start with the Angels. On one hand, he's 30-year-old rookie with only seven major league starts on his résumé. On the flip side ... we're talking about someone who retired 19 consecutive Red Sox hitters on Wednesday, while allowing only four runs, five hits and two walks (not to mention the eight strikeouts). And let's not forget his surprisingly low ERA (3.38) and WHIP (0.98) totals. Sure, he's a fill-in for the injured John Lackey, Kelvim Escobar and Ervin Santana; but what if his Aaron Small-esque run of victories continues into June? What if he forces skipper Mike Scioscia into keeping him in the rotation, thus averting that picturesque bus ride from Anaheim to Salt Lake City (home of the Angels' AAA affiliate)?

From far away, Palmer seems like fantasy fool's gold ... which might explain why he's still a free agent in the 14-team & Friends league. No one wants to be left holding the bag when the dream comes to an end.

M*A*S*H Unit

Here's a list of prominent major leaguers currently on the disabled list:

1B/3B Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
OF Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals
3B Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
OF Vladimir Guerrero, Angels
C Jorge Posada, Yankees
1B/OF Conor Jackson, Diamondbacks
C Ryan Doumit, Pirates
OF Rick Ankiel, Cardinals
3B Alex Gordon, Royals
1B/3B/OF Carlos Guillen, Tigers
OF Xavier Nady, Yankees
DH Travis Hafner, Indians
3B Edwin Encarnacion, Reds
SS Jed Lowrie, Red Sox
3B Troy Glaus, Cardinals
2B Mark Ellis, Athletics
1B Nomar Garciaparra, Athletics
3B Eric Chavez, Athletics
DH Marcus Thames, Tigers
OF Dewayne Wise, White Sox
3B Cody Ransom, Yankees
OF Cliff Floyd, Padres
C Brian Schneider, Mets
1B Tony Clark, Diamondbacks
C Jose Molina, Yankees
1B/2B Jeff Baker, Rockies
1B Doug Mientkiewicz, Dodgers
1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
OF Brian Anderson, White Sox
SP Chris Carpenter, Cardinals
2B/SS Brendan Ryan, Cardinals
OF Mark Kotsay, Red Sox
C Michael Barrett, Blue Jays
SS Tony Pena, Royals
C Matt Treanor, Tigers
SS Everth Cabrera, Padres
1B Dmitri Young, Nationals

Super Twos-Day

Leave it to Rotowire -- which absolutely cleaned up at the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards in January -- to get the masses excited about the impending arrival of rookie studs David Price, Tommy Hanson, Andrew McCutchen and Orioles catcher Matt Wieters. Known in the biz as "Super Two" talents, this foursome (among others) has been biding their time in the minors, in anticipation of a mid-May callup ... and now their time has finally come! It goes without saying, Price, Hanson, Wieters and McCutchen are must-haves in AL- or NL-only leagues (along with 14-team mixed leagues). They are essentially can't-miss talents and should be viewed as priorities over dime-a-dozen (read: replaceable) veterans, assuming you have the room for 'em.

Dubious Dealings

It's far too early to gauge the success (or abhorrent failure) of any fantasy trade, but I am already reeling from the stupidity of surrendering Carl Crawford, Aaron Hill, Scott Baker for Alexei Ramirez, Jose Valverde and Kyle Davies in a 6-man swap for the & Friends league. In my defense, the trade occurred on April 24, BEFORE Crawford's six-steal night against the Red Sox and right before Valverde went on the 15-day DL with a bad calf; and it's not like I fully regret making the deal -- after all, I eventually converted Davies into übercloser Jonathan Papelbon. But in my quest to supplement my top-shelf offense with another closer (winning Saves is a major priority), I somehow forgot that Crawford is a fantasy force. At the very least, he should be treated like a fantasy force in trade discussions. Here's the tale of the tape since April 15:

His Guys:
Crawford: .339 average (39-for-115), 23 runs, 1 HR, 12 RBIs, 20 steals
Hill: .347 average (43-for-124), 22 runs, 7 HRs, 22 RBIs, 1 steal
Baker: 1 win, 6.83 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 21 Ks in 27 innings

My Guys:
Ramirez: .244 average (19-for-78), 5 runs, 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 6 steals
Valverde: 2 saves, 7.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 8 Ks in 6 innings
Davies: 2 wins, 6.34 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 21 Ks (and 17 walks) in 32.2 innings

Verdict: Do I even need to tell you who's winning this one? D'oh!

Don't Give Up The Ship ... Yet
Ricky Nolasco: AP

Short of a Chien-Ming Wang-like meltdown in his next four starts, I just cannot bring myself to cut -- or even bench -- Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco. Yes, he's allowed five or more earned runs five times. Yes, he hasn't given up fewer than six hits in any of his eight starts. Yes, Nolasco hasn't gotten past the sixth inning in any game. And yes, as it stands now, he's the proverbial black sheep of the Marlins' amazingly talented trio of power-armed starters (Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad). But I don't care. I'm willing to stick it out for the guy who was arguably baseball's best pitcher (not named Tim Lincecum) the second half of 2008. I'm willing to absorb the short-term hit in ERA and WHIP ... solely on the hope that his next start will be The One that jump-starts his season.

From June-September 2008, Nolasco had 10 wins, a 1.16 WHIP and an absurdly low K/BB ratio of 148-20. But from this point forward for '09, the geniuses at AccuScore are applying only modest-to-mediocre expectations for Nolasco: 5.8 wins, 124 strikeouts, 5.44 ERA and a pedestrian 1.37 WHIP.

Hmmmm ... maybe I ought to reconsider keeping him.

Speaking Of AccuScore ...

I feel obligated to mention two superb articles currently running on the site: First, we have a tale-of-the-tape fantasy breakdown for Roy Oswalt vs. John Danks. The second 1-on-1 matchup pairs Jay Bruce vs. Alfonso Soriano. Enjoy!

Don't Press Your Luck

Perennial ace Justin Verlander walked into the 7th inning of Thursday's game against Minnesota with 13 strikeouts and a 5-0 lead ... and left the Metrodome with two runs allowed and a no-decision, stemming from the Tigers' stunning 6-5 loss -- capped by the Twins' six-run seventh. As a small consolation, Verlander is the first Detroit pitcher since 1971 (Mickey Lolich) to register 11-plus strikeouts in three consecutive starts.

Don't Press Your Luck, Part II

Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo racked up five hits, one run, one RBI and one steal against the Angels on Thursday, but it wasn't enough to prevent Boston's 5-4 defeat in 12 innings. Even worse, the club failed to gain ground on the first-place Blue Jays, who lost two of three to the Yankees this week.

The Roaring 20s

Rogers Hornsby. Lou Gehrig. Babe Ruth. Goose Goslin. Ty Cobb. Their impact on the game of baseball has been felt for decades, and now, thanks to the good people at Retrosheet, their day-to-day, game-to-game stats from the 1920s can be found at the touch of a button. As an added bonus, you can access the 1925 season -- a year when the Red Sox and Yankees finished 1-2 in the American League cellar. How rare is that? Outside of 1966, it's the only time I can recall such an occurrence.

I Cannot Leave Without Saying ...

... that congratulations, in a matter of speaking, are in order for David Ortiz, after setting an American League record with 12 -- count 'em, 12! -- Left On Bases against the Angels on Thursday. As if things weren't bad enough for Big Papi -- who hasn't homered in his last 144 at-bats, the longest drought of his career -- he now gets to bask in the infamy that comes with such a dubious honor. On a positive note, Frank Isbell (1901), Jiggs Donahue (1907) and George Wright (1984) have been wiped off the record books on the AL-side of the ledger (they each had 11 LOBs). And Glenn Beckert (1972) and Todd Helton (1988) can revel in the fact their National League/MLB record of 12 LOBs lives for another day.

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