May 29, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Surrounded By Desert Foxes
Dan Haren: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

At 21-27, there are few precious reasons to discuss the woebegone Diamondbacks in Fantasy Clicks -- outside of Mark Reynolds' prodigious spurts or Chad Qualls' vise-like grip on the closer job. So it only makes sense that both players would play key roles in Arizona's thrilling win against Atlanta on Thursday, for which we'll be attacking here, Revelations-style:

Diamondbacks 5, Braves 2
What I Liked: Six prominent fantasy hitters (Kelly Johnson, Casey Kotchman, Chipper Jones, Justin Upton, Eric Byrnes and Reynolds) had either two hits or at least one RBI on the day.

What I Liked, Part II: Qualls (3.43 ERA, 1.24 WHIP in '09) collected his team-leading 12th save. In fact, it was his eighth save since April 29.

What I Loved: Upton tallied three hits, one run and one steal, reaffirming his status as one of the 10 best fantasy outfielders of the young season. The 21-year-old Upton has racked up 33 runs, nine HRs, 29 RBIs and six steals, while batting at a .346 clip.

What I Loved, Part II: Diamondbacks starter Dan Haren rose to the challenge of outdueling Derek Lowe, striking out eight Braves in eight innings (zero walks), while allowing only two hits and two runs. On the season, Haren has four wins, a 2.54 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and a mind-blowing 71/9 K-BB ratio. At this pace, Haren (4-4) could contend for the NL Cy Young award -- although he'll probably need to finish above .500 for that to occur.

What Makes Me Cringe: Atlanta's starting outfielders Garret Anderson, Jeff Francoeur and Jordan Schafer are hitting .266, .247 and .205, respectively. If that weren't bad enough, the trio has combined for five home runs and 40 RBIs all season. As a point of reference, Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez has 17 HRs and 44 RBIs on his own. Whoa!

WHIP Masters

The following is a list of Major League Baseball's best performers in the all-hallowed WHIP category since April 29 (minimum 19 innings):

RP Lance Cormier, Rays (0.70)
SP Justin Verlander, Tigers (0.76)
SP Jake Peavy, Padres (0.87)
SP Edinson Volquez, Reds (0.87)
SP Zack Greinke, Royals (0.89)
SP CC Sabathia, Yankees (0.93)
SP Johnny Cueto, Reds (0.94)
SP Scott Feldman, Rangers (0.95)
SP Jered Weaver, Angels (0.95)
SP Matt Garza, Rays (1.02)
SP Dave Bush, Brewers (1.03)
SP Roy Halladay, Blue Jays (1.04)
SP Josh Outman, Athletics (1.07)
SP Scott Baker, Twins (1,08)
SP Mark Buehrle, White Sox (1.09)
SP Joel Pineiro, Cardinals (1.09)
SP Ted Lilly, Cubs (1.10)
SP Javier Vazquez, Braves (1.10)
SP Vicente Padilla, Rangers (1.10)
SP Dan Haren, Diamondbacks (1.11)
SP Zach Duke, Pirates (1.11)
SP Jair Jurrjens, Braves (1.11)
SP Chris Volstad, Marlins (1.12)
SP Yovani Gallarado, Brewers (1.12)
SP Derek Lowe, Braves (1.12)
SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies (1.13)
SP Shairon Martis, Nationals (1.14)
SP Edwin Jackson, Tigers (1.14)
SP Ross Ohlendorf, Pirates (1.14)
SP Jason Vargas, Mariners (1.14)
SP Tim Lincecum, Giants (1.15)
SP Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (1.16)
SP Cole Hamels, Phillies (1.16)
SP Aaron Cook, Rockies (1.17)
SP Randy Wolf, Dodgers (1.18)
SP Matt Harrison, Rangers (1.18)
SP Wandy Rodriguez, Astros (1.18)
SP Bobby Ray, Blue Jays (1.19)
SP Max Scherzer, Diamondbacks (1.19)
SP Carl Pavano, Indians (1.19)
SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (1.20)

Earning Their Stripes

One good turn deserves another. Here are baseball's ERA kings since April 29 (minimum 19 innings):

SP Justin Verlander, Tigers (1.02)
SP Jason Vargas, Mariners (1.29) (more on him later)
RP Lance Cormier, Rays (1.35)
SP Zack Greinke, Royals (1.37)
SP Wandy Rodriguez, Astros (1.66)
SP Roy Halladay, Blue Jays (1.76)
SP Josh Outman, Athletics (2.10)
RP D.J. Carrasco, White Sox (2.11)
SP Jake Peavy, Padres (2.13)
SP Vicente Padilla, Rangers (2.17)
SP Cliff Lee, Indians (2.25)
SP Jered Weaver, Angels (2.30)
SP Mark Buehrle, White Sox (2.31)
SP CC Sabathia, Yankees (2.33)
SP Jair Jurrjens, Braves (2.45)
SP Johan Santana, Mets (2.45)
SP Edwin Jackson, Tigers (2.45)
SP Cole Hamels, Phillies (2.45)
SP Johnny Cueto, Reds (2.50)
SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (2.57)
SP Randy Wolf, Dodgers (2.59)
SP Scott Feldman, Rangers (2.64)
SP Matt Cain, Giants (2.65)
SP Bartolo Colon, White Sox (2.67)
SP Max Scherzer, Diamondbacks (2.75)
SP Matt Garza, Rays (2.83)
SP Erik Bedard, Mariners (2.86)
SP Edinson Volquez, Reds (2.86)
SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies (2.88)
SP Clayton Richard, White Sox (2.95)
SP Rick Porcello, Tigers (2.94)
SP Zach Duke, Pirates (2.98)
SP Yovani Gallardo, Brewers (3.00)
SP Nick Blackburn, Twins (3.00)
SP Livan Hernandez, Mets (3.03)
SP Josh Johnson, Marlins (3.03)
SP Kenshin Kawakami, Braves (3.03)
SP Tim Lincecum, Giants (3.07)
SP Joe Saunders, Angels (3.10)
SP Aaron Cook, Rockies (3.11)
SP Barry Zito, Giants (3.21)

Who Is This Guy?

I'm a little skeptical when it comes to Seattle pitchers not named Bedard, Hernandez or Morrow, but I am somewhat intrigued by Jason Vargas' lightning-fast start to the season: 21 innings, 15 strikeouts, 1.29 ERA, 1.14 WHIP ... and five consecutive outings of 0-1 earned runs allowed after getting called up on May 3.

Yes, Vargas has a career 5.81 ERA and 1.59 WHIP as a professional pitcher. Yes, the 26-year-old doesn't possess overpowering stuff (although his slider is apparently top-notch). Yes, he's benefiting from the Mariners' painfully mediocre talent at the back of the rotation. And yes, he's likely a rotation holdover until the franchise's next wave of super prospects (Phillipe Aumont, Juan Ramirez, Michael Pineda, Cesar Jimenez, Nathan Adcock) gets the big promotion. But that aside, it's impossible to ignore killer ERA and WHIP totals that would make even CC Sabathia blush. It goes without saying: Vargas is a must-have in all fantasy formats, if he's still available.

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 Justin Masterson can be had in any mixed league in the world right now:

Josh Outman, Athletics (at Rangers)
**Has allowed only 3 or fewer runs in all nine appearances in '09
**Posted a 31/13 K-BB ratio in his first eight outings
**Has lasted at least six innings in four of his five starts
**Boasts a 2.10 ERA and 1.07 WHIP since May 3 (2.90 on the season)
**Has yielded only two runs in his last 19.2 innings (three starts)

**Facing the Rangers, the best power-hitting team in baseball (at least in my opinion)
**Won't have the creature comforts of the A's home park; this baby's at the Ballpark in Arlington

Some Like It Hot

It's hard to keep a great third baseman down -- especially one who possesses the traits of a four-category stud in fantasyland. No, we're not talking about Alex Rodriguez here (although he's had a blazing start in the HR department); instead, we're ga-ga over the numbers Chone Figgins has posted since April 29: .339 average (38-for-112), 19 runs, 0 homers, 10 RBIs and 12 steals. If the Angels are going to overcome a sluggish start and win the AL West, Figgins will likely play a significant role in the club's revival. But can the same be said for your fantasy team -- that is, if you own him? Or if you want to own him?

Here a few attractive options for landing Figgins in time for a July-September run, from a 1-for-1 and 2-for-2 swap perspective:

**Figgins for Lance Berkman
**Figgins for Carlos Pena
**Figgins for Brad Hawpe
**Figgins for Nick Markakis
**Figgins for Johnny Damon
**Figgins/Derek Lowe for Cole Hamels/James Loney
**Figgins/Jeremy Guthrie for A.J. Burnett/Kendry Morales
**Figgins/Johnny Cueto for James Shields/Brian Roberts
**Figgins/Clayton Kershaw for Matt Cain/Skip Schumaker

M*A*S*H Unit

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

SP Edinson Volquez, Reds (he might be back Monday)
SP Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks
SP Rich Harden, Cubs
SP Scott Kazmir, Rays
SP Jeremy Bonderman, Tigers
RP Hong Chih-Kuo, Dodgers
SP Glen Perkins, Twins
SP Koji Uehara, Orioles
SP Jesse Litsch, Blue Jays
RP Jose Valverde, Astros
SP Oliver Perez, Mets
RP Joakim Soria, Royals
SP Yusmeiro Petit, Diamondbacks
SP Justin Duchscherer, Athletics
SP Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
RP Joey Devine, Athletics
SP Kelvim Escobar, Angels
SP Huroki Kuroda, Dodgers
RP Troy Percival, Rays
SP Dustin Moseley, Angels
SP Vicente Padilla, Rangers
SP Shane Loux, Angels
RP Sergio Romo, Giants

OF Vladimir Guererro, Angels
SS Jose Reyes, Mets
3B Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
OF Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals
1B Carlos Delgado, Mets
SS/2B Mike Aviles, Royals
2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers
C Ryan Doumit, Pirates
OF Rick Ankiel, Cardinals
3B Alex Gordon, Royals
1B/3B/OF Carlos Guillen, Tigers
OF Elijah Dukes, Nationals
OF Xavier Nady, Yankees
DH Travis Hafner, Indians
3B Edwin Encarnacion, Reds
SS Jed Lowrie, Red Sox
3B Troy Glaus, Cardinals
C Jesus Flores, Nationals
2B/SS Omar Infante, Braves
OF Alfredo Amezega, Marlins
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
OF Lou Montanez, Orioles
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

In Wieters We Trust

All MLB eyes will be on Baltimore Friday night, as Orioles superstud Matt Wieters ('s No. 1 overall prospect) makes his major league debut against the Tigers. On Thursday, the MASN TV crew of Gary Thorne/Buck Martinez went through great pains to diffuse all the hype preceding Wieters' promotion, saying the catcher will probably struggle early on while making the huge adjustment of playing in the majors. And while there are some kernels of truth to that cautionary tale, Wieters' impending arrival was the essential theme of the entire broadcast, from innings 1 through 9 (Hey, look, there's a baseball game on the field!) ... so you know they're excited about finally building an entire marketing campaign around the franchise's next great centerpiece.

You know who else is overjoyed with Wieters' major league voyage? ESPN. One of the four-letter network's excellent fantasy personalities (can't remember which one) has already declared Wieters (32 HRs, 121 RBIs, 1.014 OPS in 1 1/2 minor league seasons) as no worse than the No. 5 catcher in mixed leagues -- right now. The way I see it, these would be my top 15 catchers in fantasyland:

1. Joe Mauer, Twins
2. Victor Martinez, Indians
3. Brian McCann, Braves
4. Brandon Inge, Tigers (still has catcher eligibility)
5. Russell Martin, Dodgers
6. Jorge Posada, Yankees
7. Bengie Molina, Giants
8. Jason Varitek, Red Sox
9. Ryan Doumit, Pirates (ailing catcher cleared for baseball-related activities)
10. Matt Wieters, Orioles
11. Kurt Suzuki, Athletics
12. Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
13. Ramon Hernandez, Reds
14. Chris Iannetta, Rockies
15. Jesus Flores, Nationals

Analyze This
Jimmy Rollins: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

I made a simple -- yet hopefully landmark -- trade in the & Friends league this week. In dire need of runs and stolen bases, I dealt Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon for Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. At first blush, this deal looks like a classic superstar-for-superstar, win-win trade. But who'll have the upper hand in the end? To bring some clarity to this debate, I've enlisted the help of AccuScore, the projections leader of the free world (stats from May 29-October 1):

Papelbon: 1.4 wins, 30.4 saves, 2.48 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 51 Ks
Rollins: .244 average (.301 OBP), 69 runs, 8 HRs, 44 RBIs, 28 steals

Verdict: Hmmm ... maybe I should've consulted Accuscore before swinging this deal. While I would certainly appreciate 69 runs and 28 steals with Rollins from this point forward, I am quite skittish about the extremely low batting average. Any chance Accuscore got Rollins' projections mixed up with Russell Branyan's?

Analyze That

As long as we have the Accuscore Trade Analyzer 5000 cranking ... I wanted to break down an intriguing 3-for-2 swap from my only head-to-head weekly league (and it's a doozy): Team A gets Matt Cain, Mike Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, while Team B receives Lance Berkman, Jonathan Broxton, Carlos Quentin, Mark Reynolds. Do your business, A.T.A. 5000!

Cain: 10.1 wins, 2.82 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 122 Ks
Gonzalez: 1.2 wins, 17 saves, 4.04 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 43 Ks
A-Rod: .283 average (.396 OBP), 77.2 runs, 32.3 HRs, 87.8 RBIs, 9.4 steals

Berkman: .266 average (.389 OBP), 71.8 runs, 22.5 HRs, 73.6 RBIs, 6.3 steals
Quentin: .256 average (.351 OBP), 62.7 runs, 24.2 HRs, 64 RBIs, 3.9 steals
Reynolds: .253 average (.339 OBP), 60.1 runs, 23.2 HRs, 62.4 RBIs, 15.4 steals
Broxton: 2 wins, 30.5 saves, 2.20 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 66.3 strikeouts

Verdict: Given the presumed dominance of Broxton for the rest of the season, it's clear to me that Team B would win this battle -- assuming full health. On the other hand, who would turn down a chance to get 32 more homers from A-Rod? (although I think 9.4 steals is a tad ambitious)

Addition By Subtraction

Here are the Top 10 'Most Dropped' players in CBS Sports leagues this week. Amazingly, the top spot belongs to a pitcher who boasts a 3/1 K-to-BB ratio on the season and has won two of his last three starts:

1. SP Brett Cecil, Blue Jays (back in the minors ... despite decent numbers)
2. 2B Rickie Weeks, Brewers (lost for the season to a wrist injury)
3. RP Troy Percival, Rays (may have thrown the last pitch of his career)
4. SP/RP Matt Palmer, Angels (paying the price for a now-healthy Angels starting staff)
5. SP Matt Harrison, Rangers (a lot of broken ankles from all those bandwagon-jumpers)
6. SP Luke Hochevar, Royals (so much for that Greinke-like start in the minors)
7. 2B/3B Ian Stewart, Rockies (whatever it is ... he doesn't have it right now)
8. RP C.J. Wilson, Rangers (downgraded now that Frank Francisco is closing again)
9. SP Justin Masterson, Red Sox (this one's kind of a head-scratcher -- he's productive)
10. OF Chris Duncan, Cards (for a wild-card team, St. Louis barely has any fantasy relevance)

Addition By, Um, Addition

Conversely, here are the top 10 'Most Added' players for the week:

1. 1B Jake Fox, Cubs (a Triple-Crown leader in the minors ... holy schnikes!)
2. C Chris Snyder, D-backs (4 HRs and 19 RBIs since May 16)
3. SP Clayton Richard, White Sox (knocking on the door to be the No. 3 starter)
4. SP David Hernandez, Orioles (sterling debut against the Tigers on Thursday)
5. 3B Andy LaRoche, Pirates (the perfect UTIL hitter for my team)
6. RP Joel Hanrahan, Nationals (outside shot at 15 saves this season)
7. OF/2B Skip Schumaker, Cards (I'm shocked he was even a free agent to begin with)
8. OF Luke Scott, Orioles (3 HRs since coming back to the majors on Tuesday)
9. RP J.J. Putz, Mets (insurance just in case K-Rod gets shelved)
10. OF Aaron Rowand, Giants (batting .352 since May 14 for the usually anemic Giants)

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 next to one another in the American League cellar. How rare is that? Outside of 1966, it's the only time I can recall such an occurrence.

Go Figure

The Rays have lost 17 straight games at Cleveland, a dubious streak that dates back to Sept. 29, 2005 (when Lou Piniella was the club's skipper) ...

Cleveland's starting pitcher on Thursday, rookie David Huff (4 IP, 4 hits allowed, 2 Ks, 1 BB) has had six of seven starts this season (including the minors) interrupted by rain.

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