July 12, 2010
Fantasy Clicks
Chicago's On Fire (Figuratively Speaking)
Carlos Quentin: Ron Vesely/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. Our choice to cap off Week 14 was a no-brainer -- the only game to boast six homers, 20 runs and 28 hits, while featuring baseball's hottest club:

White Sox 15, Royals 5
What I Liked: Where do we begin? Seven Chicago hitters -- Omar Vizquel, Carlos Quentin, A.J. Pierzynski, Andruw Jones, Dayan Viciedo, Mark Kotsay, Gordon Beckham -- registered at least two hits against Kansas City's sorry pitching. What's more, every White Sox starter tallied at least one run.

What I Liked, Part II: Billy Butler racked up two hits and two runs in defeat, raising his rock-steady batting average to .322. For those who haven't been watching Kansas City baseball this year, Butler has been the biggest drawing card for a franchise perpetually stuck in mud. If Butler played on a winning team, he'd be getting Youkilis-like run in the media; instead, only Kansas/Missouri residents and DirecTV viewers are enjoying Butler's prodigious hitting (9 HRs/46 RBIs/.873 OPS) on a nightly basis.

What I Liked, Part III: Jones, Viciedo and Alex Rios each bashed homers for the White Sox. For Kansas City, Jose Guillen went yard for the 15th time this season. But all this was merely an appetizer for ...

What I Loved: ... Quentin going hog-wild with two hits, two runs, two homers and five RBIs. Yes, he's hitting only .244 on the season; and yes, he seems to be a shell of his quasi-MVP self from 2008. But there may never be a better buy-low time for Quentin, who's anchoring the new penthouse tenants of the AL Central. Assuming full health, Quentin's newfound focus and admirable power should wipe away that April-June hitting funk.

What I Loathed: Outside of Zack Greinke (precautionary scratch -- shoulder stiffness) and closer Joakim Soria, can anyone actually pitch for the Royals? As an Atlanta resident, I figured GM and former Braves exec Dayton Moore would have the Kansas City farm system firing on all cylinders by now ... but is there any prospect that's close to impacting the major league roster, a la the Pirates? Why is Mitch Maier getting sufficient reps at the plate? Why hasn't free agent-to-be David DeJesus been traded to a contender yet? Why is Alex Gordon (13 HRs, 42 RBIs, 7 steals, .322 batting average, 1.025 OPS at Triple-A Omaha) NOT patrolling the outfield (his new position) for the big club? How close are Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer -- the franchise's prized pupils in the minors -- to making their MLB debuts? And last but not least ... why is Yuniesky Betancourt (.282 OBP) even on the roster?

What Made Me Cringe: Pressed into starting duty for Greinke, Anthony Lerew was the essence of mound misery on Sunday, allowing eight runs and nine hits in just two-plus innings of, ahem, work. He also surrendered four homers and failed to strike out one hitter. Ouch!

Fantasy 2-Pack: Pitchers

Typically in this section, we list the pitchers who'll be making two starts for the week. But with only a weekend's worth of games -- thanks to the All-Star break -- no one will have the luxury of taking the mound twice in Week 15 (July 12-18). Check back next Monday.

The Road To Wellville

These hitters should fare well against average-to-subpar pitching in Week 15 (July 12-18):
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (@ Cleveland)
Brennan Boesch, Tigers
Carlos Guillen, Tigers
Austin Jackson, Tigers
Magglio Ordonez, Tigers
Brandon Inge, Tigers
Johnny Damon, Tigers

Torii Hunter, Angels (vs. Seattle)
Mike Napoli, Angels
Brandon Wood, Angels
Juan Rivera, Angels
Bobby Abreu, Angels
Howie Kendrick, Angels

Brandon Phillips, Reds (vs. Colorado)
Joey Votto, Reds
Scott Rolen, Reds
Jay Bruce, Reds
Drew Stubbs, Reds
Jonny Gomes, Reds
Orlando Cabrera, Reds

Martin Prado, Braves (vs. Milwaukee)
Brian McCann, Braves
Omar Infante, Braves
Troy Glaus, Braves
Yunel Escobar, Braves
Melky Cabrera, Braves

Trouble Ahead

On the flip side ... here's a list of hitters who are likely headed for slow starts in Week 15 (July 12-18), due to poor pitching matchups. I'm not saying "Don't start 'em" ... just be wary of these guys, who'll face at least two high-quality hurlers this weekend:

Matt Kemp, Dodgers (@ St. Louis)
Andre Ethier, Dodgers
Manny Ramirez, Dodgers
Casey Blake, Dodgers
James Loney, Dodgers
Rafael Furcal, Dodgers
Russell Martin, Dodgers

Chris Young, Diamondbacks (@ San Diego)
Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks
Adam LaRoche, Diamondbacks
Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks
Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks
Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks

Jose Reyes, Mets (@ San Francisco)
David Wright, Mets
Ike Davis, Mets
Angel Pagan, Mets
Jason Bay, Mets
Rod Barajas, Mets
Carlos Beltran, Mets (rumored to be returning this weekend)

Depth Of Knowledge

There is no greater resource than the official (and up-to-date) depth charts for each MLB club. In no particular order ...

National League
East: Marlins | Braves | Mets | Phillies | Nationals
Central: Reds | Pirates | Cubs | Brewers | Cardinals | Astros
West: Dodgers | Diamondbacks | Padres | Rockies | Giants

American League
East: Red Sox | Orioles | Rays | Yankees | Blue Jays
Central: White Sox | Tigers | Indians | Royals | Twins
West: Rangers | Angels | Athletics | Mariners

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

At the risk of going to the Revelations well too often, it's the perfect time to perform a brutally honest assessment of the sad-sack Diamondbacks -- from the current crop of major leaguers ... to the apparently thin farm system. And yes, we'll even tackle the long-term viability of interim manager Kirk Gibson, time permitting:

Starting Pitching
2010: In a perfect, almost delusional world, it's cathartic for Diamondbacks fans to dream about a starting five comprising Dan Haren, Brandon Webb, Edwin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Jarrod Parker. At full health, that quintet could've been the National League version of the Rays ... with each starter having the potential for 200 innings and/or 15 wins. But alas, Webb and Parker -- Arizona's No. 1 prospect by a long shot, despite being shelved all year -- won't be big-club considerations until September; Kennedy and Jackson have struggled for sustained periods; and Haren could easily be dealt to a playoff contender before the July 31 trade deadline. What's more, it's fair to ask: If Webb and Parker had a clean bill of health back in March, would Arizona have pulled the trigger on a three-way blockbuster deal with the Tigers and Yankees ... bringing Kennedy and Jackson to the desert?

2011: Only Parker and Kennedy appear as locks for next year's rotation. But then again, the 21-year-old Parker -- who possesses the farm system's best fastball, curveball and slider (according to Baseball America) -- only has 278 minor-league innings to his credit; and with the D-backs' roster in flux, what's the rush in promoting him to the bigs and starting the 6- to 7-year clock to free agency? As for Jackson, his agent is Scott Boras, giving Arizona virtually no shot of signing E-Jax before his 2012 free agency.

Down On The Farm: For reasons unknown, there's not one attractive pitching prospect at Triple-A Reno ... but that's not the case at Double-A Mobile (my old stomping grounds as a reporter), with three potential dynamos -- Barry Enright (2.88 ERA/1.02 WHIP/83-15 K-BB ratio); Joshua Collmenter (1.59 ERA/0.99 WHIP/56-18 K-BB ratio) and Wes Roemer (2.39 ERA/1.20 WHIP/43-11 K-BB ratio) -- progressing well for the BayBears.

Relief Pitching
2010: If any team needs a thorough housecleaning in the bullpen ... it's the Diamondbacks. Recently tabbed closer Aaron Heilman has a shaky 1.48 WHIP and mediocre 30/17 K-BB ratio; and yet, he stands high above deposed fireman Chad Qualls and his cast of forgettable subordinates (Sam Demel, Blaine Boyer, Juan Gutierrez). Ironically, the D-backs have dealt two potential closers in the last six months -- Daniel Schlereth and Billy Buckner -- both to the Tigers, via separate trades.

Where Did It All Go Wrong? Part II

2010: Outside of Mark Reynolds (20 HRs, 56 RBIs, 5 steals, .214 batting average), is anyone actually disappointed with a D-backs regular in fantasyland? Justin Upton (14 HRs, 42 RBIs, .439 slugging, 11 steals)? Kelly Johnson (14 HRS, 43 RBIs, .276 batting average, .497 slugging)? Stephen Drew (.275 average, 6 steals)? Adam LaRoche (13 HRs, 55 RBIs, .456 slugging)? Chris Young (on pace for 30 HRs/31 steals)? Or Miguel Montero (.348 average, .494 slugging)? Put it all together and Arizona currently ranks 3rd in the National League in homers (100), 4th in total bases (1,264), 4th in slugging (.419) and 7th in runs (404) -- solid numbers unbecoming of a 34-55 trainwreck that's seemingly going nowhere.

2011: With the exception of LaRoche or maybe Johnson, I fully expect the regular starters intact next season, with Gerardo Parra perhaps taking a larger role in the outfield. This is good news for keeper-league owners who want to assume sabremetric greatness for Upton and Montero ... and 37 homers/220 strikeouts for Reynolds.

Down On The Farm: Baseball America might have a love jones for Bobby Borchering and A.J. Pollock ... but they're a minimum of two years away from the majors. Personally, I prefer the potential of Triple-A stars Brandon Allen (11 HRs, 43 RBIs, .264 batting average, .910 OPS, 107 total bases), catcher Carlos Corporan (7 HRs, 25 RBIs, .283 batting, .855 OPS) and Doug Deeds (7 HRs, 33 RBIs, .302 batting average, .885 OPs, 149 total bases). And for Double-A Mobile, look to Evan Frey (.300 batting, .758 OPS, 21 steals) and Colin Cowgill (10 HRs, 59 RBIs, .290 batting, .822 OPS, 15 steals). The real coup de grace may come in the form of Marc Krauss, who's tearing up High-A pitchers at a prodigious rate.

2010: Of all the players to wear the 'English D' for my hometown Detroit Tigers from the last 30 years, Gibson is probably the best managerial prospect. The man emanates intensity and hard work out of every pore, and his knowledge of the game -- especially baserunning -- is unsurpassed. Can he strategize against the likes of Tony LaRussa and Bruce Bochy? I have no clue. But he'll run a tight ship in Arizona, while commanding the immediate respect of his players. He's also a personable chap (although we've never met) -- at least when it comes to hunting and Michigan State sports. Of course, Gibby (or his permanent replacement) won't be worth bupkes to anyone next season ... if the D-backs don't invest in a new bullpen, while figuring out a way to maximize their starting rotation. Strangely, a Haren trade might be the prudent move to spark a sustainable turnaround.

Total Bases Recall

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 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 July 11):

1. Josh Hamilton, Rangers -- 213
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 203
3. Robinson Cano, Yankees -- 190
4. Adam Dunn, Nationals -- 188
5. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 185
6. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 183
7. Joey Votto, Reds -- 182
8. Martin Prado, Braves -- 180
9. Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers -- 179
10. Ryan Howard, Phillies -- 175
11. Adrian Beltre, Red Sox -- 174
12. Corey Hart, Brewers -- 174
13. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies -- 173
14. Matt Holliday, Cardinals -- 173
15. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 173
16. David Wright, Mets -- 173
17. Michael Young, Rangers -- 173
18. Carl Crawford, Rays -- 172
19. Brandon Phillips, Reds -- 172
20. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays -- 172
21. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres -- 170
22. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox -- 169
23. Ryan Braun, Brewers -- 167
24. Aubrey Huff, Giants -- 166
25. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays -- 165
26. Nick Swisher, Yankees -- 165
27. Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- 164
28. Alex Gonzalez, Blue Jays -- 163
29. Paul Konerko, White Sox -- 163
30. Rickie Weeks, Brewers -- 162

Take This To The Bank

Based on Accuscore's sophisticated statistical evaluations, here are the top 30 projected saves leaders from this point forward (July 12-Oct. 1):
1. Ryan Franklin, Cardinals -- 20.9
2. Brian Wilson, Giants -- 20.6
3. Rafael Soriano, Rays -- 20.4
4. Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers -- 20.3
5. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox -- 20.0
6. Mariano Rivera, Yankees -- 20.0
7. Francisco Cordero, Reds -- 19.5
8. Neftali Feliz, Rangers -- 19.4
9. Billy Wagner, Braves -- 19.2
10. Francisco Rodriguez, Mets -- 19.1
11. Heath Bell, Padres -- 19.0
12. Carlos Marmol, Cubs -- 18.5
13. Jose Valverde, Tigers -- 18.5
14. Leo Nunez, Marlins -- 18.4
15. Andrew Bailey, Athletics -- 18.4
16. Joakim Soria, Royals -- 18.0
17. Matt Capps, Nationals -- 17.8
18. David Aardsma, Mariners -- 17.2
19. Jon Rauch, Twins -- 17.0
20. Huston Street, Rockies -- 15.6
21. Bobby Jenks, White Sox -- 15.3
22. Brad Lidge, Phillies -- 14.9
23. Kevin Gregg, Blue Jays -- 14.7
24. Brian Fuentes, Angels -- 14.0
25. Aaron Heilman, Diamondbacks -- 12.9
26. John Axford, Brewers -- 11.9
27. Kerry Wood, Indians -- 11.5
28. Matt Lindstrom, Astros -- 10.9
29. Octavio Dotel, Pirates -- 10.7
30. Alfredo Simon, Orioles -- 7.7

The Switch Happens In 14 Days

Without a doubt, we all love fantasy baseball. But let's be honest: The bread-and-butter sport in fantasyland is not baseball, basketball or hockey -- it's professional football, as in celebrating the NFL in all its glory. That's why on July 26, we'll make the seamless transition of expanding NFL Fantasy Clicks to twice a week (Mondays/Fridays) ... while moving the MLB Clicks to Wednesdays for all of August.

Gifts From The YouTube Gods

There exists a batch of baseball-related fluff on YouTube from the 1970s, featuring Dodgers/Padres great Steve Garvey. For starters, we have a forgettable ad for Chevrolet, blandly touting state-of-the-art cars from that ugly era; and then ... we find Garvey pitching Aqua Velva cologne -- like Pete Rose in his heyday -- with one notable exception: At the tail end of the TV spot, check out Garvey's painfully slow home run trot, as if he went out of his way to be an obnoxious twit to the catcher who just wanted "to smell good for his girl."

That unnecessary display of vanity is nothing compared to Garvey's two-episode guest shot on Cheap Seats, the hilarious ESPN Classic show from 2004-07 starring Jason and Randy Sklar (Twitter: @SklarBrothers). If you ever wondered how Garvey would fare as host to a deep-sea fishing tournament (to hunt the dangerous billfish/blue marlin) alongside a few D-list actors, this clip's for you. And if you're dying to play the Kevin Bacon Game, in hopes of interconnecting Garvey, Joan Rivers, Cheech Marin and Gil Gerard, aka Buck Rogers ... then this clip should warm the cockles of your heart.

Speaking of TV's Buck Rogers, remember Erin Gray?

Stock Report

Here's an update for the highly volatile SI.com & Friends league (15-team, 5x5-roto):
1. The Baltimore Choppas (Jay Clemons) -- 117.5 points (I'm Tiger at the 2000 U.S. Open)
2. Bronx Bulldogs (Charlie Kight) -- 102.5 points (... which makes Charlie the Ernie Els)
3. The Youkileles (Lonny Krasnow) -- 101 points (league's best pitching staff -- in name only)
4. Crotch Bats (Jeff Ritter) -- 98 points (say hello to Chris Davis, fantasy savior )
5. TEAM COCO Crisp (Micah Hart) -- 97 points (wisely nixed a Peavy trade before the injury)
6. From First To Worst (Jon Machota) -- 94 points (Pedroia, Manny, Heyward on DL? Ouch!)
7. Tulo's Dirtbags (Scott Wraight) -- 89 points (can you believe Angel Pagan's been benched?)
8. Ruxin's Rabbits (Brandon Marcus) -- 88 points (THE biggest comeback story since June 1)
9. Walk-Off Winners (Bobby Kight) -- 84 points (frankly, I liked Bring The Ruckus the most)
10. Dominican Lous (Cory McCartney) -- 80.5 points (last good team of Tier II -- for now)
11. Kershawshank Redemption (D. Lampson) -- 69 points (boffo comedian, trade offer-wise)
12. Milwaukee Schlitz (Jeff Lewis) -- 63 points (a 24-point improvement since Week 11)
13. Cabrera's Cannibals (David Komer) -- 45 points (oh, how have the mediocre have fallen!)
14. The Dirty Fuentes's (Andrew Lamb) -- 40 points (name change + bad team = zzzzzzzz)
15. Lenny Loves Twizzlers (Drew Packham) -- 31.5 points (beseiged by injuries all year -- whatcha gonna do?)

Jay Clemons can be found on Twitter, day and night (@SI_JayClemons), accessing your fantasy questions and comments. You can also read his award-winning Revelations every Sunday/Monday during the NFL and MLB seasons.

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