May 17, 2010
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
For Whom The Kubel Tolls
Joe Mauer (L) and Jason Kubel: Al Bello/Getty Images

In an effort to make Fantasy Clicks bigger and better than ever, we'll spotlight each Sunday's most intriguing MLB game in an NFL-style Revelations. This week's choice -- Twins @ Yankees -- was a tough choice over Mets-Marlins (the great Ricky Nolasco), Cards-Reds (Scott Rolen's opposite-field home run was a ridiculous byproduct of Great American Wind Tunnel, er, Ballpark) or Dodgers-Padres (San Diego pitchers yield only one run and two hits -- and STILL lose). But in the epic struggle between pitching and hitting in fantasyland ... a game-changing grand slam trumps all.

Minnesota 6, New York 3
What I Liked: How about Mark Teixeira slowly getting out of his extreme April funk with three homers against Boston on May 9 ... and then six hits in the weekend set against Twins (two on Sunday)? It's getting to the point where savvy fantasy owners should either A) Never draft Teixeira, and then move heaven and earth to trade for him around May 10, or B) Draft/bench him for 30 days to circumvent the inevitable malaise in the season's first month.

What I Liked, Part II: Twins pitcher Nick Blackburn is a solid No. 5 arm in AL-only leagues, with the potential to be a mixed-league stalwart someday, IF he could just raise his strikeout total a bit. On Sunday, he allowed one walk, three runs and nine hits against the Yanks' formidable lineup, while striking out four in seven solid innings. Good numbers in fantasyland; great numbers for a real-world club that desperately needed to avoid a lost weekend in the Bronx.

What I Liked, Part III: With all due respect to Joe Nathan, the Twins' bullpen situation could not be on firmer footing right now. As great as Jon Rauch (10 saves, 1.80 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) has been in the closer role, he owes a great deal of his success to Matt Guerrier (2.12 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .217 opponents' batting average) and Brian Duensing (1.84 ERA) -- two of the most gifted, yet unsung setup men in the biz. In a strange and profound way, Nathan's season-ending elbow injury has been a boon to Minnesota's long-term prospects.

What I Loathed: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Joe Mauer cobbled together a 2-for-16 outing on a day where neither weather nor amazing starting pitching were dismissive factors. Of course, even superstars are entitled to one or two stinkers per week -- no right-minded person would suggest otherwise -- but it would've been nice for this quartet to be last-day wunderkinds for those in weekly leagues. Then again, Mauer's relative mediocrity did open the door for ...

What I Loved: Jason Kubel's grand slam couldn't have come at a better time for all non-New Yorkers involved: In real-world circles, his bomb capped the Twins' five-run eighth inning and allowed Minnesota (23-14) to maintain a 1 1/2-game edge in the AL Central; in fantasyland, it undoubtedly motivated owners everywhere to splurge previously undesirable auction money on Kubel, in hopes the home run will launch an all-world hot streak that's bound to come sooner or later.

What I Loved, Part II: Who cares that Twins first baseman Justin Morneau struck out twice and stranded four runners on Sunday. His lone hit, an opposite-field homer of approximately 410 feet, was a great way to get the Minnesota offense back on track. On the season, Morneau has nine homers and a .362 average, leaving many to wonder at this point: Who's a better MVP candidate in the American League -- Morneau or Detroit's Miguel Cabrera?

What Made Me Indifferent: Kubel's line-drive homer came off the great Mariano Rivera, who failed to collect his eighth save of the season and watched his ERA, ahem, balloon to a still-microscopic 1.59. It goes without saying: Rivera could give up 10 more game-deflating grand slams in the next 30 days ... and he'd still be the greatest closer in baseball history -- by a long shot. (Translation: Feel free to land him this week, via trade.)

What Left Me Scratching My Head: Strange but true, I have never owned Joba Chamberlain in a mixed league ... and I don't think that's going to change anytime soon. On Sunday, he surrendered two hits and three runs in Minnesota's big eighth inning, obviously setting the table for Kubel's blast off Rivera. But Joba's problems run deeper than one Sunday ennui; can anyone remember the last time he was golden for an entire week? Can anyone remember the last time someone said on TV, "He's really forcing the Yankees' hand here. Either pronounce him as New York's official closer whenever Mariano retires, or convert him back into a starter -- his long-term spot -- for the Yankees ... or another team, via trade."

Fantasy 2-Pack: Pitchers

These potentially gold pitchers are scheduled for two starts in Week 7 (May 17-23):
CC Sabathia, Yankees
David Price, Rays
Jered Weaver, Angels
Johan Santana, Mets
Matt Cain, Giants
Roy Halladay, Phillies
Chris Carpenter, Cardinals
Felix Hernandez, Mariners
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Zack Greinke, Royals
Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
John Danks, White Sox
Phil Hughes, Yankees
Justin Verlander, Tigers
Jonathan Sanchez, Giants
C.J. Wilson, Rangers
Jeff Niemann, Rays
Johnny Cueto, Reds
Mike Pelfrey, Mets
Josh Beckett, Red Sox
Shaun Marcum, Blue Jays
Kevin Slowey, Twins
Huroki Kuroda, Dodgers
Scott Kazmir, Angels
Derek Lowe, Braves
Fausto Carmona, Indians
Mat Latos, Padres
Wandy Rodriguez, Astros
Ben Sheets, Athletics
Randy Wells, Cubs
Derek Holland, Rangers
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox
Rick Porcello, Tigers
Gio Gonzalez, Athletics
Charlie Morton, Pirates
Ryan Rowland-Smith, Mariners
Zach Duke, Pirates
Brad Bergesen, Orioles
Homer Bailey, Reds
Chris Volstad, Marlins
John Ely, Dodgers
Edwin Jackson, Diamondbacks
Clayton Richard, Padres
Kris Medlen, Braves
Bud Norris, Astros
Craig Stammen, Nationals
Kyle Davies, Royals

Dare To Compare

In a nod to the classic Pepsi Challenge of 1980s lore, here's a blind ace test for fantasygoers (based on Accuscore projections): Which of the five high-profile starting pitchers would you most prefer from this point forward (May 17-Oct. 1)? And can you guess which projections represent that of Yankees linchpin CC Sabathia?

Player A
Projected stats: 13.4 wins, 3.10 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 151.0 strikeouts
Player B
Projected stats: 14.5 wins, 2.74 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 130.7 strikeouts
Player C
Projected stats: 14.7 wins, 3.48 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 135.7 strikeouts
Player D
Projected stats: 13.5 wins, 3.75 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 162.7 strikeouts
Player E
Projected stats: 13.1 wins, 3.35 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 150.8 strikeouts

A -- Josh Johnson, Marlins
B -- Shaun Marcum, Blue Jays
C -- CC Sabathia, Yankees
D -- Colby Lewis, Rangers
E -- Jeff Weaver, Angels

Running A Little Hot

We referenced Justin Morneau at the top of Fantasy Clicks; so why not explore his trade marketability in 5x5 rotisserie leagues, using three separate conventional methods:
*Morneau for Alex Rodriguez
*Morneau for Andrew McCutchen
*Morneau for Joe Mauer
*Morneau for Matt Kemp

*Morneau for David Wright/Chase Headley
*Morneau for Vernon Wells/Jake Peavy
*Morneau for Elvis Andrus/Magglio Ordonez
*Morneau for Hunter Pence/Michael Young

*Morneau/Ryan Braun for Evan Longoria/Tim Lincecum
*Morneau/Mariano Rivera for Josh Johnson/Carl Crawford
*Morneau/Jose Contreras for Josh Hamilton/Josh Beckett
*Morneau/Clayton Kershaw for Roy Halladay/Garrett Jones

The Road To Wellville

These hitters should fare well against average-to-subpar pitching in Week 7 (May 17-23):
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (@ N.Y. Yankees, vs. Minnesota, @ Philly)
Mike Lowell, Red Sox
Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
Adrian Beltre, Red Sox
Victor Martinez, Red Sox
David Ortiz, Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
Evan Longoria, Rays (vs. Cleveland, @ N.Y. Yankees, @ Houston)
Carl Crawford, Rays
Jason Bartlett, Rays
Carlos Pena, Rays
Ben Zobrist, Rays
Gabe Kapler, Rays
B.J. Upton, Rays
Nelson Cruz, Rangers (vs. LA/Anaheim, vs. Baltimore, vs. Chicago White Sox)
Ian Kinsler, Rangers
Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Julio Borbon, Rangers
Michael Young, Rangers
David Murphy, Rangers
Justin Smoak, Rangers

Trouble Ahead

On the flip side ... here's a list of hitters who are likely headed for slow starts in Week 7 (May 17-23), due to poor pitching matchups. I'm not saying "Don't start 'em" ... just be wary of these guys, who'll face at least four high-quality hurlers during this period:

Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners (@ Oakland, vs. Toronto, vs. San Diego)
Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners
Chone Figgins, Mariners
Jose Lopez, Mariners
Jack Wilson, Mariners
Casey Kotchman, Mariners
Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners
Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks (@ Florida, vs. San Francisco, vs. Toronto)
Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks
Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
Adam LaRoche, Diamondbacks
Chris Young, Diamondbacks
Conor Jackson, Diamondbacks
Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks
Pablo Sandoval, Giants (@ San Diego, @ Arizona, @ Oakland)
Mark DeRosa, Giants
Aaron Rowand, Giants
Aubrey Huff, Giants
Nate Schierholtz, Giants
Bengie Molina, Giants

The Missing Links

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

**Baseball America
**Baseball America's 2010 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)

Total Bases Recall
Dustin Pedroia: Elsa/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 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 16):

1. Andre Ethier, Dodgers -- 93
2. Vernon Wells, Blue Jays -- 91
3. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 89
4. Marlon Byrd, Cubs -- 88
5. Alex Gonzalez, Blue Jays -- 86
6. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 84
7. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 84
8. Robinson Cano, Yankees -- 83
9. Ty Wigginton, Orioles -- 83
10. Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks -- 81
11. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox -- 81
12. Jayson Werth, Phillies -- 81
13. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 80
14. Shane Victorino, Phillies -- 79
15. Chase Utley, Phillies -- 78
16. Ryan Braun, Brewers -- 77
17. Paul Konerko, White Sox -- 76
18. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs -- 76
19. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays -- 75
20. Alex Rios, White Sox -- 75
21. Alberto Callaspo, Royals -- 74
22. Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- 74
23. Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers -- 73
24. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates -- 73
25. Dan Uggla, Marlins -- 73
26. Adam Dunn, Nationals -- 72
27. Josh Hamilton, Rangers -- 72
28. Martin Prado, Braves -- 72
29. James Loney, Dodgers -- 71
30. Casey McGehee, Brewers -- 71
31. Kendry Morales, Angels -- 71
32. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins -- 71
33. Joey Votto, Reds -- 71
34. David Wright, Mets -- 71
35. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals -- 71

Football's Always On The Brain

I just got the word late Thursday night: Rotoworld magazine, headed by the incomparable Gregg Rosenthal, will conduct its annual NFL mock draft later today -- with the results going into Rotoworld fantasy-football preview this summer. The timing couldn't be more perfect for two reasons: 1) I'm itching for an experts' mock draft before the Sports Illustrated one on June 1; and 2) I'm pretty much out of material for Wednesday's Clicks. (We're entering the dead period of the NFL ... a time when even the most obsessed, workaholic coaches are jet-skiing or vacationing with their seldom-seen significant others. Come to think of it, I'm due for 4-6 weeks of paid, non-sanitarium leave, too.)

Memo To 'Pittsburgh Sam'

This mini-section is devoted to Sam Hepner, a lifetime Pittsburgh Pirates fan and participating owner in the exclusive Son of SI & Friends fantasy baseball league: Sam, I was quite touched by your e-mail from the other day (although I'm worried about the sheer volume of "stresses" in your life), and I just wanted to say publicly -- since I teased on you in this space last month -- thanks for all your support! Because of people like yourself, I feel compelled to entertain the masses 2-3 times a week with extensive Fantasy Clicks; because of you, I could never see myself leaving the fantasy journalism beat to cover some random sport for another publication (damn, there goes my contract leverage) ... and because of that, I hold out extreme hope Brad Lincoln and/or Pedro Alvarez will someday become Steel City superstars for the Pirates (and you) -- along with, of course, Andrew McCutchen.

But I do have some bad news: We have NEVER had someone drop out of the & Friends football league (a 16-team conglomerate, five years running); and if you really, really want to be a part of that league, you'll probably have to contact Jeff Gillooly to make it happen. HA! (old joke wasted on under-25 Clicks audience)

Analyze This

To the delight of many, there is never a slowdown period with trades in the & Friends league. Whether it's BIG ones involving Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia, or little ones involving Brandon Wood and Aaron Harang, there's always something going down between the graveyard-shift hours of 2-6 a.m. ... which, in turn, gives us an excuse to let the mathematical geniuses at Accuscore be the knee-jerk judge and jury:

Team A gets ... Neftali Feliz
Feliz (Accuscore yearly estimates -- May 17-Oct. 1)
2.2 wins, 33.4 saves, 2.99 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 64.8 strikeouts

Team B gets ... Wandy Rodriguez
Rodriguez (Accuscore yearly estimates -- May 17-Oct. 1)
9.2 wins, 3.55 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 129.8 strikeouts

Verdict: This initially qualifies as a classic win-win deal. Team A, which is dangerously above the 200-starts cap, picks up the soon-to-be-immortal Feliz, a certifiable monster in saves, ERA and WHIP; and Team B, which is comfortably under the 200-start threshold, brings in the Astros' ace, which can only mean fantasy goodness in ERA, strikeouts and -- depending on Houston's penchant for strong second-half runs -- victories. That said, this is a clear win for Feliz if he's in line for 33 more saves and a sub-1.00 WHIP.

Depth Of Knowledge

For AL- and NL-only leagues, there is no greater draft-day 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

Stock Report

Here's an update for the highly volatile & Friends league (15-team, 5x5-roto):
1. Pinstripes Are Slimming (Jay Clemons) -- 106 points (still in first after blah week)
2. From First To Worst (Jon Machota) -- 103.5 points (spent big $$ on Jose Contreras)
3. TEAM COCO Crisp (Micah Hart) -- 101.5 points (absolute tops in runs, ERA and WHIP)
4. Bronx Bulldogs (Charlie Kight) -- 97.5 points (arguably boasts league's best offense)
5. Kershawshank Redemption (Danny Lampson) -- 94.5 points (punting saves = major cojones)
6. Dominican Lous (Cory McCartney) -- 89.5 points (are A-Rod/Hanley on the outs?)
7. Crotch Bats (Jeff Ritter) -- 89 points (unfazed by Ritter Jr.'s debut)
8. The Youkileles (Lonny Krasnow) -- 86.5 points (craving Carlos Guillen's 2B-eligibility)
9. Tulo's Dirtbags (Scott Wraight) -- 81.5 points (slowly fading into obscurity)
10. Ruxin's Rabbits (Brandon Marcus) -- 80 points (wayyyyyyy above 200-start threshold)
11. Joba Rules (Bobby Kight) -- 63 points (will name change spark resurgence?)
12. Cabrera's Cannibals (David Komer) -- 59.5 points (head stuck in fantasy-football clouds)
13. Albert's On The Big Mac Diet (Andrew Lamb) -- 55.5 points (finally unveiled the 'For Sale' sign)
14. Milwaukee Schlitz (Jeff Lewis) -- 48.5 points (1s/2s great with binary code, not cat-rankings)
15. Lenny Loves Twizzlers (Drew Packham) -- 44 points (could easily land CC Sabathia with one simple phone call, text, IM, email or air-mail message sent by a savvy carrier pigeon)

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