June 01, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Sunday Afternoon Revelations
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Jeff Gross/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 8 was an absolute cinch -- chock-full of stars stepping up in key moments AND perhaps the second-best comeback of the young season (which, unfortunately, is only the second-best comeback of this week -- thanks to the Indians and Rays):

Angels 9, Mariners 8
What I Liked: Seven prominent fantasy contributors (Chone Figgins, Bobby Abreu, Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Ichiro Suzuki, Adrian Beltre, Jose Lopez) had at least two hits or two RBIs on the day. In head-to-head or weekly leagues, that kind of Sunday production is known as bankability (not be confused with Bud Light's definition of drinkability).

What I Liked, Part II: Endy Chavez (two hits, two RBIs, one run, one HR) and Mike Napoli (one HR) have been solid plays in AL-only leagues or for risk-taking owners in mixed leagues. Chavez is hitting .289 on the year, and Napoli now has seven dingers.

What I Loved: I must admit, Ichiro (4 hits, 2 RBIs, 1 run, 1 HR on Sunday) has far exceeded the modest projections from the SI.com fantasy baseball preview. In fact, I may have missed the mark on Ichiro more than any other fantasy star (including Big Papi). D'oh!

What I Loved, Part III: First baseman Kendry Morales (20 runs, 8 HRs, 30 RBIs in '09) finished the Angels' rally win with an RBI single in the 9th, the club's third run of the inning. Going into the 6th, the Halos were down 8-1 and seemingly on the brink of an embarrassing home sweep to the Mariners. But ain't it funny how life turns out sometimes?

What Makes Me Cringe: Howie Kendrick went 0-for-3 on the day, imperceptibly dropping his Uecker-like .225 average for the year. It's fair to say he's been a huge disappointment in fantasyland, so much that Angels farmhand Sean Rodriguez likely holds greater value in AL-only keeper leagues.

What Makes Me Cringe, Part II: After two marginal starts to commemorate his return from injury, Ervin Santana has imploded big-time in his last two outings. On Sunday, he allowed three walks, eight runs and 10 hits (while striking out only two) in 5 1/3 innings of work. His brutal start has been erased from our long-term memory banks, though, thanks to the scoreless work of Anaheim's bullpen and, oh yeah, that memorable eight-run comeback.

What Makes Me Cringe, Part III: Not that I was rooting for such an occurrence, but is anyone surprised David Aardsma registered his first blown save against an AL West opponent? The Seattle closer (for now, at least) entered the 9th with a two-run cushion ... but walked off the field a loser after surrendering two hits, three runs and four walks. His ERA, by the way, rocketed from 1.09 to 2.13 in just 6-7 minutes of real-time work. Yikes!

Fantasy 2-Pack: Pitchers

These pitchers are scheduled for two starts in Week 9 (June 1-7). Hence, they're potential gold in weekly leagues:

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox
Zach Duke, Pirates
Randy Wolf, Dodgers
Kevin Slowey, Twins
Joba Chamberlain, Yankees
Joe Saunders, Angels
A.J. Burnett, Yankees
Roy Oswalt, Astros
Tim Lincecum, Giants
Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
Johan Santana, Mets
Gavin Floyd, White Sox
Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies
Rick Porcello Tigers
Edinson Volquez, Reds (welcome back from the DL)
Bronson Arroyo, Reds
Manny Parra, Brewers
Jarrod Washburn, Mariners
Joe Blanton, Phillies
Kyle Lohse, Cardinals
Livan Hernandez, Mets
Huroki Kuroda, Dodgers
Aaron Cook, Rockies
Todd Wellemeyer, Cardinals
Kenshin Kawakami, Braves
Andy Sonnanstine, Rays
Rich J. Hill, Orioles
Trevor Cahill, Athletics
Andrew Miller, Marlins
Craig Stammen, Nationals
Kyle Davies, Royals
Randy Wells, Cubs
Ian Snell, Pirates
Bartolo Colon, White Sox
Jeff Suppan, Brewers
Vicente Padilla, Rangers
Jeremy Sowers, Indians
Kevin Correia, Padres
David Huff, Indians
Billy Buckner, Diamondbacks
Felipe Paulino, Astros
Antonio Bastardo, Phillies (great name for a pitcher ... or villain in a foreign film)

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 Josh Geer can be had in any mixed league around the world right now:

Andrew Miller, Marlins (vs. Brewers)
**Allowed 2 or less runs in his last three starts
**Boasts a respectable 13/6 K-BB ratio in his last two outings
**Accuscore.com projects another 104 strikeouts, from this point forward in '09
**Essentially has a 50-50 ratio of Ground-Ball Outs to Fly-Ball Outs
**At home, he won't kill you with walks, and subsequently, a higher WHIP

**There's a reason why he only has one victory, to date
**When he's off on a given start, he's really off
**Led by Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, Mat Gamel, etc., the Brewers can explode at any time

The Road To Wellville

These hitters should fare remarkably well against average-to-subpar pitching throughout Week 9 (June 1-7):

Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox (@ Tigers, vs. Rangers)
Jason Bay, Red Sox
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Mike Lowell, Red Sox
J.D. Drew, Red Sox
David Ortiz, Red Sox (a little sheepish about mentioning him here)
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
Jason Varitek, Red Sox
Joe Mauer, Twins (vs. Indians, @ Mariners)
Justin Morneau, Twins
Michael Cuddyer, Twins
Jason Kubel, Twins
Denard Span, Twins
Joe Crede, Twins
Delmon Young, Twins (ditto for Delmon)
Carlos Gomez, Twins
Carl Crawford, Rays (vs. Royals, @ Yankees)
B.J. Upton, Rays
Carlos Pena, Rays
Evan Longoria, Rays
Pat Burrell, Rays
Ben Zobrist, Rays
Jason Bartlett, Rays
Dioner Navarro, Rays
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (vs. Rangers, vs. Rays)
Mark Teixeira, Yankees
Derek Jeter, Yankees
Johnny Damon, Yankees
Brett Gardner, Yankees
Jorge Posada, Yankees
Robinson Cano, Yankees
Nick Swisher, Yankees
Jim Thome, White Sox (vs. Athletics, vs. Indians)
Jermaine Dye, White Sox
Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
Paul Konerko, White Sox
Chris Getz, White Sox
Josh Fields, White Sox
Scott Podsednik, White Sox

Tough Road Ahead

On the flip side, these hitters are likely headed for a mini-slump in Week 9 (June 1-7), 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:

Ryan Howard, Phillies (@ Padres, @ Dodgers)
Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
Chase Utley, Phillies
Raul Ibanez, Phillies
Pedro Feliz, Phillies
Jayson Werth, Phillies
Shane Victorino, Phillies
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
Adam Dunn, Nationals (vs. Giants, vs. Mets)
Nick Johnson, Nationals
Willie Harris, Nationals
Josh Willingham, Nationals
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
Cristian Guzman, Nationals
Anderson Hernandez, Nationals
Austin Kearns, Nationals
Jay Bruce, Reds (@ Cardinals, vs. Cubs)
Adam Rosales, Reds
Willy Taveras, Reds
Alex Gonzalez, Reds
Ramon Hernandez, Reds
Jerry Hairston, Jr., Reds
Brandon Phillips, Reds (back from the DL, in time for Joey Votto going there)

Feeling A Draft In Here?

With MLB's first-year player draft on the horizon (June 9-10), here are the first 15 picks from MyMLBDraft.com's most recent mock draft (updated May 29). You'll notice that 12 pitchers are going quite high, meaning 2009 serves as either one of the weakest-hitting classes in recent memory ... or the single-greatest group of pitching phemons in draft history:

1. Nationals: P Stephen Strasburg, San Diego State
2. Mariners: OF/1B Dustin Ackley, North Carolina
3. Padres: OF Donovan Tate, Cartersville HS (Ga.)
4. Pirates: P Aaron Crow, Fort Worth Cats (independent)
5. Orioles: P Tanner Scheppers, Fresno State
6. Giants: P Shelby Miller, Brownwood HS (Texas)
7. Braves: P Zach Wheeler, East Paulding HS (Ga.)
8. Reds: P Alex White, North Carolina
9. Tigers: P Jacob Turner, Westminster Christian Academy (Mo.)
10. Nationals: P Tyler Matzek, Capistrano Valley HS (Calif.)
11. Rockies: P Kyle Gibson, Missouri
12. Royals: SS Grant Green, USC
13. Athletics: P/IF Matt Leake, Arizona State
14. Rangers: P Matt Purke, Klein HS (Texas)
15. Indians: P Matt Hobgood, Norco HS (Calif.)

Mr. Scott's Incredible Week

Last Monday morning, while making out the weekly lineup for my favorite AL-only team, I was left with the quandary of To Play or Not To Play Luke Scott. At that time, it wasn't an easy choice. After all, Scott was coming off the 15-day DL and still had to partake in a rehab stint with Class A Delmarva for Monday (and probably Tuesday and Wednesday) before re-joining the big club. Taking everything into account, I opted to keep Scott on the bench for Week 8 -- thus allowing Reid Brignac to see regular at-bats for This Week's TWIB Notes (my team name).

Sounds like a harmless move, eh ... considering that Scott had only six homers and 15 RBIs as of May 25? All signs pointed to yes -- at least before Sir Luke went on a tear for the ages. Here's a painful account of his last seven days:

Monday (May 25) -- Goes 2-for-2 with one home run in Class A ball
Tuesday -- O's outfielder Luis Montanez is bound for the DL ... expediting Scott's promotion
Wednesday -- Two hits, two runs, one HR and three RBIs in the O's comeback home victory
Thursday -- Two hits, two runs, two HRs and four RBIs in the O's easy home win over the Tigers
Friday -- Three hits, two runs, two HRS and five RBIs in another O's home triumph
Saturday -- One run, one HR and only two RBIs ... bringing his weekly total to 6 HRs/14 RBIs
Sunday -- Hitless in three at-bats, but it's a small footnote to a once-in-a-lifetime week

Pay It Forward: Of course, Scott (21 runs, 11 HRs, 29 RBIs, .332 average for '09) has already been inserted into my Week 9 lineup in the high-stakes AL-only league. But who are we kidding here? We all know his HR/RBI pace will take a noticeable dip in the coming weeks (read: karma). And if we needed further proof the fantsy gods enjoy messing with us, I'm sure Reid Brignac will have a 4-homer, 5-steal week very soon -- now that he's back on the Twibbies' bench. Remind me ... why do I play fantasy again?

The Untouchables

Gut feelings aside, these stars should NOT be dealt in any garden-variety 1-for-1 or 2-for-2 swap this season: (If you're using them as a means to a blissfully lopsided trade in your favor ... then, by all means, do the deed!)

Ian Kinsler, Rangers
Evan Longoria, Rays
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Carlos Beltran, Mets
Adam Jones, Orioles
Brian Roberts, Orioles
Carlos Quentin, White Sox
Carl Crawford, Rays
Joe Mauer, Twins (a 9th-round steal for risk-taking owners)
Matt Kemp, Dodgers
Victor Martinez, Indians
Jermaine Dye, White Sox
David Wright, Mets
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
Nick Markakis, Orioles
Andre Ethier, Dodgers
Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
Hanley Ramirez, Marlins (back on the list ... hooray!)
Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Justin Morneau, Twins
Matt Wieters, Orioles (don't overthink this ... let him play)
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)
CC Sabathia, Yankees
Edwin Jackson, Tigers (his first appearance on this list)
Erik Bedard, Mariners
Tim Lincecum, Giants
Chad Billingsley, Dodgers
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Dan Haren, Diamondbacks
Jake Peavy, Padres
Justin Verlander, Tigers (there's no knocking him when he's white-hot)
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (back on the list)

Relief Pitchers
Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
Joe Nathan, Twins
Francisco Rodriguez, Mets
Matt Capps, Pirates (getting better all the time)
Francisco Cordero, Reds
Mariano Rivera, Yankees
Heath Bell, Padres
Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers
Joakim Soria, Royals (could be back this week)

Man-Child Prodigies Update

Well, now that David Price and Matt Wieters have had some MLB games under their belt ... is it too early to project them for the Hall of Fame in about, oh, 21 years? All kidding aside, it's hard to recall greater debut hype reserved for two phenoms in the same week, especially during the season. Heck, even SI.com bought into Wieters-mania for a bit, establishing a contingency plan of coverage for the site's main page on Friday, should Wieters "hit three homers" against the Tigers (he didn't). Here's how the duo fared for the week:

Price: Spanning two outings ... 17 strikeouts in nine innings, 3.00 ERA and one victory
Wieters: Spanning three games ... 2-for-8 with one run scored (in Wieters' defense, he would have had plenty of run-producing opportunities on Friday/Saturday, if Luke Scott hadn't crushed three homers, while hitting right before him in the O's lineup)

Speaking Of Wieters ...

Did you know there's a popular Web site singularly devoted to the Orioles rookie catcher, aptly named MattWietersFacts.com? On the site, you can buy a MWF T-shirt, view his Hall of Fame bust or fall in love with Chuck Norris-esque taglines that bring Wieters' überhype to a whole new level. Like this gem: Matt Wieters is so good, his intangibles are tangible.

Total Bases Recall
Mike Lowell (left) and Jason Bay: AP

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 31):

1. Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- 128
2. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 126
3. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 124
4. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays -- 120
5. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres -- 116
6. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 114
7. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals -- 113
8. Mark Teixeira, Yankees -- 112
9. Jason Bay, Red Sox -- 111
10. Adam Jones, Orioles -- 111
11. Ian Kinsler, Rangers -- 111
12. Ryan Howard, Phillies -- 110
13. Robinson Cano, Yankees -- 107
14. Victor Martinez, Indians -- 107
15. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 106
16. Nelson Cruz, Rangers -- 106
17. Torii Hunter, Angels -- 106
18. Carlos Pena, Rays -- 105
19. Michael Young, Rangers -- 105
20. Johnny Damon, Yankees -- 104
21. Mike Lowell, Red Sox -- 104
22. Miguel Tejada, Astros -- 104
23. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks -- 103
24. Adam Dunn, Nationals -- 102
25. Nick Markakis, Orioles -- 100
26. Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks -- 100
27. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins -- 99
28. Freddy Sanchez, Pirates -- 99
29. Orlando Hudson, Dodgers -- 98
30. Brian Roberts, Orioles -- 98

An On-Again, Off-Again Bro-mance

I have absolutely no clue what to make of Reds first baseman Joey Votto and his continual bouts with dizziness and/or stress, prompted by an inner-ear infection. Do I trade him? Do I ride out the illness for another week? Another month? Most people recover from an inner-ear disorder in a few days with the help of medication and rest, but Votto's condition has seemingly worsened with each passing day. I want to believe the reasons for his absence at face value ... but I'm also starting to wonder if Votto indeed has vertigo -- the same troublesome condition that effectively ended Nick Esasky's once-promising career in 1990.

Should I decide to trade Votto (8 HRs, 23 runs, 33 RBIs, 2 steals, .357 average), I can still get 75-cents-on-the-dollar value in return. But that reeks of an act from a truly desperate fantasy owner ... and I'm just not at that point right now (only 8 points back in the SI.com league).

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)
SS Jhonny Peralta, Indians (now 3B-eligible)
3B Hank Blalock, Rangers (should be 1B-eligible by June 5)
C Ramon Hernandez, Reds (now 1B-eligible)
3B/OF Chris Coghlan, Marlins (should be 2B-eligible by mid-June)
2B Jose Lopez, Mariners (now 1B-eligible)
2B Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins (now 3B-eligible)
DH Jason Giambi, Athletics (now 1B-eligible)
2B Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (now SS-eligible)
3B Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks (now 1B-eligible)
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- and OF-eligible)
OF Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks (now 2B-eligible)
OF Skip Schumaker, Cardinals (now 2B-eligible)
3B Garrett Atkins, Rockies (now 1B-eligible)
OF Adam Dunn, Nationals (now 1B-eligible)
OF/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/SS Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays (now 2B-eligible)
3B Ian Stewart, Rockies (now 2B- and OF-eligible)
OF Jerry Hairston, Jr., Reds (now SS-eligible)
SS/OF Ben Zobrist, Rays (now 2B-eligible)

Running Hot

If you had the foresight to pluck Juan Pierre off the the waiver wire on May 7, just seconds after the news broke of Manny Ramirez's 50-game supsension ... congrats for adding a solid piece -- at least in steals -- to your fantasy club. But who could've known that Pierre would become a four-category force right out of the chute, racking up 14 runs, 11 RBIs, five steals and a .377 batting average (23-for-61) since May 16? Of course, with Manny slated to rejoin the Dodgers on July 3, it may be extremely difficult to "sell high" on a player (Pierre) who's staring at only 32 more days of unimpeded fantasy goodness. But then again ... you've heard what they say about "suckers" and the time frame they're born, right? Ha!

Here are some realistic 1-for-1 trade scenarios involving Pierre. But act now!

*Pierre for Dan Uggla
*Pierre for Russell Branyan
*Pierre for Jorge Cantu
*Pierre for Roy Oswalt
*Pierre for Max Scherzer (probably too late)
*Pierre for Heath Bell
*Pierre for Frank Francisco
*Pierre for Nate McLouth
*Pierre for Jay Bruce

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)
**MinorLeagueBaseball.com's Stats page
**MLB.com'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 Los Angeles Times writer Dylan Hernandez's engaging insight on Dodgers Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, Manny Ramirez, Russell Martin, Jonathan Broxton, 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 MLB.com's team pages.

Stock Report

In case you care, here's an update for the much-talked-about AND highly volatile SI.com & Friends fantasy league. It's your typical 14-team, 5x5, roto-style setup:

1. Pete Rose's Best Bet (Tim Dwyer) -- 90.5 points (by my count, our league's 8th different leader)
2. The Farmer John Family (Scott Wraight) -- 88 points (what timing ... Grady's on the block)
3. Prestige Worldwide (Charlie Kight) -- 87.5 points (top-5 in five categories ... solid all the way)
4. Teixeira's Slow Start (Jon Machota) -- 86.5 points (sound numbers in every category)
5. Packham Mortuary (Drew Packham) -- 80.5 points (last week's leader lost 5.5 points)
6. Being Kenny Powers (Bobby Kight) -- 80 points (keeps us laughing with one-sided trade offers)
7. This Week's TWIB Notes (Jay Clemons) -- 79 points (I'm making slooooow inroads in pitching)br>8. The Funcookers (Jeff Ritter) -- 77 points (maybe he needs to deal Morneau/Wieters)
9. Hacksensack Bulls (Cory McCartney) -- 74.5 points (stellar in Wins ... gawd-awful in Saves)
10. The Brandon & Jason Show (Marcus/Schwartz) -- 70.5 points (let the Johan Derby begin!)
11. Downtown Killer B's (Mike Bernaiche) -- 67 points (rising like a fantasy villain up the charts)
12. Capital City Goofballs (Josh Wymer) -- 60.5 points (taking a bath in ERA and WHIP)
13. Hoboken Highlanders (David Katz) -- 60.5 points (needs to diversify talent from SBs)
14. Krasmanian Devils (Lonny Krasnow) -- 48 points (the king of indifferent 'autopick' owners)

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