May 04, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Sunday Afternoon Revelations
Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia: AP

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, history was made (or at least matched) in our choice for game o' the day:

Tampa Bay 5, Boston 3
What I Liked: James Shields and Brad Penny were both superb as starters. Shields, who usually terrorizes the Red Sox at Tropicana Field (the reverse holds true at Fenway Park), posted six strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings, while allowing just two runs. Penny fanned eight Rays in just six innings, while surrendering a respectable three runs.

What I Liked, Part II: For once, Rays closer Troy Percival had an uneventful ninth-inning save, although there were no strikeouts to discuss.

What I Liked, Part III: I don't own Kevin Youkilis in any of my eight fantasy leagues. Otherwise, I'd be a little more jubilant about his sixth HR and 20th RBI.

What I Loved: Perhaps you've heard about Carl Crawford's four-hit, six-steal day against Boston. The six thefts tied a major league record (shared by current ESPN analyst Eric Young and two others). Perhaps more importantly, it gave fantasy owners everywhere (including yours truly) hope that Crawford was on the cusp of a sustained May breakout.

What Makes Me Cringe: Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. Upton went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. He's hitting a far-below-Bob Uecker-like .162 on the season.

What Makes Me Cringe, Part II: The Rays and Red Sox left a combined 34 runners on base Sunday, with third baseman Mike Lowell (5 LOB) serving as the biggest offender. But I'll overlook that, since he appears to have regained his 2007 form.

Fantasy 2-Pack: Pitchers

These pitchers are scheduled for two starts in Week 5 (May 4-10). Hence, they're potential gold in weekly leagues:

Javier Vazquez, Braves
Roy Oswalt, Astros
Erik Bedard, Mariners
Aaron Harang, Reds
Josh Beckett, Red Sox
Edinson Volquez, Reds
Ryan Dempster, Cubs
Joba Chamberlain, Yankees
Matt Garza, Rays
Joe Saunders, Angels
Brett Myers, Phillies
Francisco Liriano, Twins
Kevin Millwood, Rangers
Chris Volstad, Marlins
Gavin Floyd, White Sox
Edwin Jackson, Tigers
Paul Maholm, Pirates
Max Scherzer, Diamondbacks
Phil Hughes, Yankees
John Maine, Mets
Fausto Carmona, Indians
Zack Greinke, Royals
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
Felix Hernandez, Mariners
Tim Lincecum, Giants
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Scott Kazmir, Rays
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
Jon Lester, Red Sox
Kyle Davies, Royals
Jonathan Sanchez, Giants
Koji Uehara, Orioles
Doug Davis, Diamondbacks
Sean Marshall, Cubs
Joe Blanton, Phillies
Ian Snell, Pirates
Aaron Cook, Rockies
Nick Blackburn, Twins
Antony Reyes, Indians
Dallas Braden, Athletics
Rick Porcello, Tigers
Bartolo Colon, White Sox
Brett Anderson, Athletics
Josh Geer, Padres
Kevin Correia, Paderes
Shane Loux, Angels
Brian Tallett, Blue Jays
Brett Cecil, Blue Jays
Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies
Mitchell Boggs, Cardinals

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 Manny Parra can be had in any mixed league around the world right now:

Doug Davis, Diamondbacks (@ Dodgers)
**Has a strong 27/10 K-BB ratio in five starts
**Possesses the capacity for 160 strikeouts in a full season
**Has allowed two or fewer runs in three outings
**Possesses a stellar ERA/WHIP combo of 2.91/1.18
**Owns a 4-3 record, along with 3.45 ERA and 37/18 K-BB ratio vs. the DOdgers from 2006-08
**The Dodgers (10-0 at home) are due for a clunker at Chavez Ravine

**The Dodgers (10-0 at home) may wait another day for that presumptive "clunker"

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 Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins (now 3B-eligible)
DH Jason Giambi, Athletics (now 1B-eligible)
2B Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (will be SS-eligible by mid-May)
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)
OF Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks (now 2B-eligible)
OF Skip Schumaker, Cardinals (now 2B-eligible)
3B Garrett Atkins, Rockies (should be 1B-eligible by next week)
OF Adam Dunn, Nationals (should be 1B-eligible by the All-Star break)
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 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 5 (May 4-10):

Ian Kinsler, Rangers (@ Mariners, @ A's, @ White Sox)
Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Nelson Cruz, Rangers
Chris Davis, Rangers
Marlon Byrd, Rangers
Michael Young, Rangers
Joe Mauer, Twins (@ Tigers, @ Orioles, vs. Mariners)
Justin Morneau, Twins
Jason Kubel, Twins
Denard Span, Twins
Michael Cuddyer, Twins
Joe Crede, Twins
Carlos Gomez, Twins
Delmon Young, Twins
Matt Holliday, Athletics (vs. Angels, vs. Rangers, vs. Blue Jays)
Ryan Sweeney, Athletics
Kurt Suzuki, Athletics
Jason Giambi, Athletics
Orlando Cabrera, Athletics
Jack Cust, Athletics

Tough Road Ahead

On the flip side, these hitters are likely headed for a mini-slump in Week 5 (May 4-10), 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:

Emmanuel Burriss, Giants (@ Cubs, @ Rockies, @ Dodgers)
Pablo Sandoval, Giants
Edgar Renteria, Giants
Aaron Rowand, Giants
Randy Winn, Giants
Bengie Molina, Giants
Travis Ishikawa, Giants
Jimmy Rollins, Phillies (@ Cardinals, @ Mets, vs. Braves)
Chase Utley, Phillies
Ryan Howard, Phillies
Raul Ibanez, Phillies
Jayson Werth, Phillies
Shane Victorino, Phillies
Pedro Feliz, Phillies
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (@ Padres, vs. Giants, vs. Marlins)
Todd Helton, Rockies
Ryan Spilborghs, Rockies
Brad Hawpe, Rockies
Garrett Atkins, Rockies
Ian Stewart, Rockies
Dexter Fowler, Rockies

Obligatory A-Rod Update

Even if Alex Rodriguez were healthy and playing for the Yankees right now, I sincerely doubt he'd be at a Manhattan bookstore this week, signing copies of his new, ahem, "book" (not unlike Jake Jarmel). That's because A-Rod is still in Florida, training hard for his imminent debut in pinstripes, perhaps as early as next week. From the film footage making the daily rounds, A-Rod's smooth swing doesn't seem to be compromised from offseason hip surgery ... but that was never an issue -- in my book, at least.

What separates A-Rod's fantasy value from his hot-corner brethren comes in the form of runs, steals and batting average -- not necessarily HRs and RBIs. And right now, he's barely a threat for 80 runs, 8-10 steals and a .285 average. Which brings me to this: Do you really want A-Rod on your fantasy team? Or would you rather sell high on the "idea" of A-Rod, where foolish owners think they'll be getting the April 2007 version of baseball's best player (when healthy)? I'm not saying to give him away -- after all, you've waited patiently for his return; but here are some 1-for-1 trade options which may serve you better from here on out.

Rodriguez for SP Zack Greinke, Royals (there's a sucker born every minute)
Rodriguez for RP Joe Nathan, Twins
Rodriguez for OF Carl Crawford, Rays
Rodriguez for 1B Justin Morneau, Twins
Rodriguez for OF Matt Holliday, Athletics
Rodriguez for OF Carlos Quentin, White Sox
Rodriguez for SP Felix Hernandez, Mariners (a risky proposition ... but one worth exploring)
Rodriguez for 2B Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

The Eminently Replaceables

Need more proof that not all baseball executives are highly intelligent, business-savvy savants? Need evidence that some fantasy baseball owners are smart enough to handle certain aspects of player personnel? Take the case (or plight) of Oliver Perez: In the 14-team & Friends fantasy league, Perez was the 325th player selected (24th round), taken right after such pitching luminaries as Hong-Chih Kuo, Jeff Niemann and Scott Downs -- all of whom could easily be replaced on the fantasy waiver wire. And yet, at the same time, Mets GM Omar Minaya was jumping through hoops to give Perez a three-year, $36 million extension. Fast forward to May 1, where Perez -- to the surprise of no one, except Minaya -- has a 1-2 record, 9.97 ERA, 2.26 WHIP and 21 walks (through 20 innings) in five starts ... and will likely be shipped to the bullpen in a few days. Hmmm ... if only Minaya played fantasy baseball, maybe he would've known that Perez -- even with his capacity for 180 strikeouts -- is a dime-and-dozen asset in the baseball world. Talk about an expensive lesson.

The Untouchables

Gut feelings or no gut feelings, these stars should NOT be dealt in any garden-variety 1-for-1 or 2-for-2 swap this season: (If you're using these guys as a means to a historically lopsided trade in your favor ... then, by all means, do the deed!)

Ian Kinsler, Rangers (perhaps the best player in baseball)
Evan Longoria, Rays
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Carlos Quentin, White Sox
Matt Kemp, Dodgers
Victor Martinez, Indians
Carlos Pena, Rays (MLB-leading 11th HR the other day)
Jermaine Dye, White Sox
Grady Sizemore, Indians
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
Nelson Cruz, Rangers
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 right now)
CC Sabathia, Yankees
Ricky Nolasco, Marlins (don't let the slow start fool ya)
Erik Bedard, Mariners
Tim Lincecum, Giants
Chad Billingsley, Dodgers (Billz/Kershaw ...a match made in blue heaven)
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Dan Haren, Diamondbacks
Jake Peavy, Padres
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

Total Bases Recall
Raul Ibanez: Doug Pensinger/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 30 leaders (with ties) in total bases (through May 3):

1. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 68
2. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays -- 67
3. Ian Kinsler, Rangers -- 66
4. Carlos Pena, Rays -- 65
5. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox -- 64
6. Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- 63
7. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 62
8. Victor Martinez, Indians -- 62
9. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres -- 59
10. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 59
11. Robinson Cano, Yankees -- 58
12. Torii Hunter, Angels -- 58
13. Adam Jones, Orioles -- 58
14. Orlando Hudson, Dodgers -- 57
15. Michael Young, Rangers -- 57
16. Mike Cameron, Brewers -- 55
17. Adam Lind, Blue Jays -- 55
18. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs -- 55
19. Nick Swisher, Yankees -- 55
20. Mike Lowell, Red Sox -- 54
21. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays -- 54
22. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals -- 54
23. Curtis Granderson, Tigers -- 53
24. Brandon Inge, Tigers -- 53
25. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 52
26. Nick Markakis, Orioles -- 52
27. Freddy Sanchez, Pirates -- 52
28. Joey Votto, Reds -- 52
29. Jorge Cantu, Marlins -- 51
30. Andre Ethier, Dodgers -- 51
31. Chase Utley, Phillies -- 51
32. Manny Ramirez, Dodgers -- 51

It Could Happen To You

After years of playing fantasy baseball, spanning countless leagues, I encountered a major "first" on Sunday, as in the first time a league commissioner had rejected one of my already-agreed-upon trades. The deal in question occurred in my platinum AL-only league, surrendering Matt Garza and set-up relievers Ryan Perry and Santiago Casilla, while getting Jose Arredondo, Octavio Dotel and Indians stud farmhand Matt LaPorta, who got his major-league callup this weekend. Now, to be fair, I approved the swap BEFORE Garza's one-hit, zero-run gem against the Red Sox on Thursday night. But I was willing to do the deal anyway for three reasons:

1. Arredondo and Dotel are serious upgrades over Perry and Casilla (currently on the DL).
2. I already have David Price, Ian Kennedy, Derek Holland and Netfali Perez on my bench.
3. LaPorta has exhibited Ryan Braun-like traits in the minors ... and I would like to be in on the ground floor.

Speaking Of Braun ...

There is a major advantage to working at -- especially at night. In exchange for NOT having a social life from working overnights and weekends (I made my peace with that a looooooooooong time ago), we have immediate access to the press wires (AP, Reuters, etc.) -- specifically baseball. And around this time two years ago, I vividly recall Milwaukee calling up one of its most heralded prospects, Ryan Braun, in hopes that he'd breathe life into a struggling Brewers offense. Well, 34 homers, 97 RBIs, 91 runs and 15 steals later (not to mention a .324 average), Braun was on his way to becoming an automatic Rookie of the Year and annual top-10 fantasy lock. And I, having no shame, gladly scooped him up in five leagues (in about two-and-a-half minutes) -- simply because I have a cushy job on random Sunday nights.

Johnny From Cincinnati

At the risk of sounding like an Arby's commercial here, Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto is now 5-for-5 on the "fantasy goodness" scale. Five starts in -- and at least one amazing positive to derive from each outing. Here's a brief tale of the tape, to date:

**One run or less allowed in four of the five starts
**At least nine strikeouts in two starts
**Possesses a robust 29/9 K-BB rate through 24.2 innings
**Boasts a 1.65 ERA and 1.04 WHIP (All-Star-type numbers)
**Has allowed only two homers all year

Now, the tricky part comes in asking, Can Cueto sustain this high level of performance all season? (although no one is expecting a sub-2.00 ERA even in the best-case scenarios) ... or is he merely living on borrowed time as a fantasy wunderkind? Here's a list of possible 2-for-2 trades involving Cueto -- just in case you're looking to "sell high" in the marketplace:

Cueto/2B Dan Uggla for Brian Roberts/Kevin Slowey ... OR
Cueto/3B Ryan Zimmerman for Grady Sizemore/Andy Pettitte ... OR
Cueto/RP Jonathan Broxton for Alex Rios/Clayton Kershaw ... OR
Cueto/OF B.J. Upton for Nick Markakis/Jake Peavy ... OR
Cueto/1B Carlos Pena for Joey Votto/Joe Nathan

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 Minneapolis Star-Tribune writer Joe Christensen's engaging insight on Twins Joe Mauer, Joe Nathan, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Justin Morneau, Denard Span, 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.

We're Goin' Streaking!

In the AL-only platinum league I referenced earlier, my team has earned at least one steal for 16 consecutive days (28 in that span) -- highlighted by Crawford's six-steal bonanza on Sunday. I don't expect this amazing run (pardon the pun) to last all season, but here's hoping it finally ends on July 13: the day before the MLB All-Star Game.

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. The Funcookers (Jeff Ritter) -- 109 points (top-6 ranking in 9 of 10 categories ... wow!)
2. The Farmer John Family (Scott Wraight) -- 93.5 points (wish I had this kind of team balance)
3. Being Kenny Powers (Bob Kight) -- 91 points (major boost in steals, courtesy of Crawford)
4. The Brandon & Jason Show (Marcus/Schwartz) -- 86.5 points (very few holes to mention)
5. Hoboken Highlanders (David Katz) -- 81 points (stellar in runs, steals, batting average)
6. Prestige Worldwide (Charlie Kight) -- 79.5 points (basically top-7 in six categories ... solid!)
7. This Week's TWIB Notes (Jay Clemons) -- 74 points (I'm getting killed in 4 pitching categories)
8. Packham Mortuary (Drew Packham) -- 73 points (taking a bath in batting average)
9. Pete Rose's Best Bet(Tim Dwyer) -- 71.5 points (gawd-awful in HRs, first in strikeouts)
10. Hackensack Bulls (Cory McCartney) -- 67 points (absolutely dominant in wins/RBIs)
10. Capital City Goofballs (Josh Wymer) -- 67 points (has potential for lightning-fast rise)
12. Downtown Killer B's (Mike Bernaiche) -- 58.5 points (needs pitching help to be competitive)
13. Machota's Bums (Jon Machota) -- 52.5 points (essentially punting runs, ERA and steals)
14. Krasmanian Devils (Lonny Krasnow) -- 46 points (welcome to an 'autopick' team, Matt LaPorta)

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