August 05, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Welcome to the Hotel California
Matt Kemp: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Choosing Tuesday night's most fantasy-friendly game was a no-brainer, even if I had to wait until 1:30 a.m. (EST) to make the call. So, let's attack this one, per usual, Revelations-style:

Dodgers 17, Brewers 4
What I Liked: Congratulations, Manny Ramirez ... your first RBI in 45 loooooooooooong at-bats just happened to come on a solo-shot homer off Yovani Gallardo. For the night, Man-Ram finished with two RBIs, three hits and three runs. On the flip side ... this breakout-for-a-day doesn't necessarily signal a sustained run of excellence. Remember, this is the NEW Manny.

What I Liked, Part II: Granted, he had little impact on the final score, but I'm impressed that Prince Fielder (two hits) is comfortably hitting over .300 at this point (.305, to be exact). Truth be told: I've always looked at Prince as a .280 kind of guy with immense power, not unlike Carlos Pena. Instead, he looks like a mini-version of Joey Votto (figuratively speaking, of course).

What I Liked, Part III: I've had my share of make-believe run-ins with Dodgers pitcher Huroki Kuroda in recent years. In fact, he has not graced any of my eight fantasy rosters since his first-inning meltdown against the Padres in 2008 -- a mid-season implosion so profound that it singlehandedly triggered my second-half demise in the & Friends league. But ... I must credit him with a strong Tuesday performance: Three earned runs in six innings, while striking out seven Brewers (against one walk). Way to bridge that gap to my fantasy heart, Huroki!

What I Loved: Against Milwaukee's ace (and underrated bullpen), the Los Angeles hitters rolled to a much-deserved and sorely needed blowout. All told, six prominent Dodgers -- Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, Casey Blake, Matt Kemp and Manny accounted for an eye-popping 14 RBIs, 15 runs and 16 hits! That's just sick ... and wrong ... and wonderful.

What I Loved, Part II: The Grand Poobah for the fireworks display was none other than Kemp (one HR, three runs, four hits, five RBIs). On the season, he's hitting .323, along with 63 runs, 15 HRs, 69 RBIs and -- count 'em! -- 22 steals. And in case you're wondering, YES, I feel vindication for ranking him as the No. 6 outfielder during the exhibition season, thus prompting an avalanche of reader hate-email (from those who felt Manny warranted the higher rating). HA!

What I Loathed: In a long game of 21 runs, it's only natural to have some high LOB counts. But Juan Castro, Jason Kendall and James Loney each stranded five runners on the night. Of course, that was nothing compared to Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy leaving seven runners behind in just four hitless at-bats. How's that for inefficiency?

What I'm Going To Remember For 2010 Draft Day: After Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez and MAYBE Tim Lincecum (for pitching-friendly scoring leagues) ... I would probably take Ryan Braun with the No. 4 overall pick. Yes, he only had two hits, one run and one RBI on Tuesday, but his sick numbers for the season (22 HRs, 74 RBIs, 77 runs, 9 steals, .318 average, .567 slugging) won't be going away anytime soon, kids.

WHIP Masters

The following is a list of Major League Baseball's best performers in the all-hallowed WHIP category since July 5 (minimum 18 innings):

SP Joel Pineiro, Cardinals (0.70)
SP Roy Oswalt, Astros (0.73)
SP Jonathan Sanchez, Giants (0.78)
SP Jarrod Washburn, Tigers (0.83)
SP Wandy Rodriguez, Astros (0.85)
SP Joe Blanton, Phillies (0.87)
SP Mat Latos, Padres (0.89)
RP Tyler Clippard, Nationals (0.90)
SP Brett Anderson, Athletics (0.92)
SP Josh Beckett, Red Sox (0.93)
SP Gavin Floyd, White Sox (0.93)
SP Matt Cain, Giants (0.97)
SP Cole Hamels, Phillies (0.97)
SP Javier Vazquez, Braves (0.99)
SP Cliff Lee, Phillies (1.00)
SP Rich Harden, Cubs (1.00)
SP J.A. Happ, Phillies (1.00)
SP Jeff Niemann, Rays (1.01)
RP Roy Halladay, Blue Jays (1.03)
SP Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies (1.04)
SP Tim Lincecum, Giants (1.04)
SP Ricky Nolasco, Marlins (1.04)
SP John Lackey, Angels (1.05)
SP Tim Stauffer, Padres (1.05)
SP Jason Marquis, Rockies (1.06)
SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies (1.07)
SP Dan Haren, Diamondbacks (1.08)
SP Josh Johnson, Marlins (1.09)
SP Johan Santana, Mets (1.10)
SP Justin Verlander, Tigers (1.11)
SP Jon Garland, Diamondbacks (1.12)
SP Felix Hernandez, Mariners (1.12)
SP Jeremy Sowers, Indians (1.15)
SP Chris Volstad, Marlins (1.15)
SP Chris Carpenter, Cardinals (1.16)
SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (1.16)
SP Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (1.20)
SP Zach Duke, Pirates (1.20)
SP John Lannan, Nationals (1.21)
SP Tommy Hunter, Rangers (1.21)
SP Joba Chamberlain, Yankees (1.21)
SP/RP Dustin Nippert, Rangers (1.22)
SP Barry Zito, Giants (1.22)
SP Mark Buehrle, White Sox (1.23)
SP Carl Pavano, Indians (1.24)
SP David Hernandez, Orioles (1.24)
SP Craig Stammen, Nationals (1.24)

Earning Their Stripes

One good turn deserves another. Here are baseball's ERA kings since July 5 (minimum 18 innings):

SP Wandy Rodriguez, Astros (0.82)
SP Joel Pineiro, Cardinals (0.90)
SP Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (1.42)
SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (1.46)
RP Joe Blanton, Phillies (1.47)
SP Chris Carpenter, Cardinals (1.60)
SP Matt Cain, Giants (1.60)
SP Johan Santana, Mets (1.82)
SP Brett Anderson, Athletics (1.96)
SP Tim Lincecum, Giants (2.02)
SP Cliff Lee, Phillies (2.11)
SP Jarrod Washburn, Tigers (2.14)
SP Josh Beckett, Red Sox (2.15)
SP Roy Halladay, Blue Jays (2.25)
RP Tyler Clippard, Nationals (2.25)
SP Tommy Hunter, Rangers (2.25)
SP Roy Oswalt, Astros (2.27)
SP Jeff Niemann, Rays (2.27)
SP Jason Marquis, Rockies (2.31)
SP David Hernandez, Orioles (2.31)
SP Rich Harden, Cubs (2.48)
SP Tim Stauffer, Padres (2.57)
SP Jon Lester, Red Sox (2.60)
SP Justin Verlander, Tigers (2.66)
SP Mat Latos, Padres (2.66)
SP Joba Chamberlain, Yankees (2.73)
SP/RP Dustin Nippert, Rangers (2.73)
SP John Lackey, Angels (2.80)
SP Brian Bannister, Royals (2.82)
SP Javier Vazquez, Braves (2.86)
RP Kevin Hart, Padres (2.86)
SP Edwin Jackson, Tigers (2.88)
SP Chris Volstad, Marlins (2.91)
SP Dan Haren, Diamondbacks (2.93)
SP Carlos Zambrano, Cubs (2.94)
SP Jeremy Sowers, Indians (2.95)
SP Jon Garland, Diamondbacks (3.00)
SP J.A. Happ, Phillies (3.00)
SP Chad Gaudin, Padres (3.08)
SP Gavin Floyd, White Sox (3.10)
RP Ricky Nolasco, Marlins (3.12)
SP Brad Bergesen, Orioles (3.13)
SP Zach Duke, Pirates (3.18)
SP Jair Jurrjens, Braves (3.19)
SP Randy Wells, Cubs (3.20)
SP Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies (3.21)
SP Marc Rzepczynski, Blue Jays (3.25)

The Land Of Milk & Honey ... And Twitter

The dynamic p.r. eggheads at Sports Illustrated are booking an army of fantasy writers on radio stations across the country to promote our fantasy football magazine; and as luck would have it, I've already gotten my fair share of radio run in the last week (Sirius/XM Radio, WTMJ in Milwaukee, to name a few) ... which leads me to the following: I FINALLY have my own Twitter account (@SI_JayClemons), freeing me up to update fantasy honks on future radio/TV appearances.

So, if you decide to become a Twitter "follower," I promise to throw in personal anecdotes about my days, as well ... like my favorite cereal (Fruity Pebbles), favorite TV crime-drama theme song from the 70s (The Rockford Files), favorite ice cream (butter pecan), favorite video game of all time ("NHL '93" ... made famous in Swingers), favorite NFL press box (Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium) or favorite Burger King commercial (any one starring Elisabeth Shue). Oh, and time permitting, we'll talk fantasy football too!

Take This To The Bank

Based on Accuscore's sophisticated statistical evaluations, here are the top 25 projected Wins masters from this point forward (Aug. 5-Oct. 1). So, grab 'em ASAP, via trade:

1. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals -- 6.5
2. J.A. Happ, Phillies -- 6.5
3. Dan Haren, Diamondbacks -- 6.5
4. Tim Lincecum, Giants -- 6.4
5. Javier Vazquez, Braves -- 6.3
6. Cliff Lee, Phillies -- 6.3
7. Edwin Jackson, Tigers -- 6.3
8. Roy Halladay, Blue Jays -- 6.2
9. Josh Johnson, Marlins -- 6.2
10. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers -- 6.1
11. Joel Pineiro, Cardinals -- 6.1
12. Nick Blackburn, Twins -- 6.1
13. Matt Garza, Rays -- 6.1
14. Jarrod Washburn, Tigers -- 5.9
15. Carlos Zambrano, Cubs -- 5.9
16. CC Sabathia, Yankees -- 5.9
17. Randy Wolf, Dodgers -- 5.9
18. Huroki Kuroda, Dodgers -- 5.8
19. Jered Weaver, Angels -- 5.8
20. John Danks, White Sox -- 5.8
21. Aaron Cook, Rockies -- 5.8
22. Zach Duke, Pirates -- 5.8
23. John Lackey, Angels -- 5.8
24. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros -- 5.8
25. Josh Beckett, Red Sox -- 5.8

Take This To The Bank, Part II

As for closers ... here are the top 25 projected Saves leaders from this point forward:

1. Bobby Jenks, White Sox -- 18.2
2. Brad Lidge, Phillies -- 18
3. Brian Fuentes, Angels -- 17.8
4. Joe Nathan, Twins -- 17
5. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox -- 16.9
6. Mariano Rivera, Yankees -- 16.8
7. Fernando Rodney, Tigers -- 16.8
8. Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers -- 16.4
9. Brian Wilson, Giants -- 16.3
10. Huston Street, Rockies -- 16.1
11. Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks -- 15
12. Jose Valverde, Astros -- 14.9
13. Matt Capps, Pirates -- 14.4
14. Ryan Franklin, Cardinals -- 14.4
15. Frank Francisco, Rangers -- 14.2
16. Heath Bell, Padres -- 13.9
17. Kerry Wood, Cubs -- 13.9
18. Trevor Hoffman, Brewers -- 13.6
19. Joakim Soria, Royals -- 13.5
20. Francisco Cordero, Reds -- 13.5
21. Francisco Rodriguez, Mets -- 13.3
22. David Aardsma, Mariners -- 13.2
23. Matt Lindstrom, Marlins -- 13.1
24. Mike MacDougal, Nationals -- 13
25. Kevin Gregg, Cubs -- 12.8

Take This To The Bank, Part III

On the offensive side of the fence ... the top 25 projected Runs leaders:

1. Chase Utley, Phillies -- 44
2. Chone Figgins, Angels -- 44
3. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox -- 43.8
4. Shane Victorino, Phillies -- 43.7
5. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox -- 42.1
6. Brian Roberts, Orioles -- 42
7. Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- 41.1
8. Denard Span, Twins -- 39.3
9. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates -- 39.1
10. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 39.1
11. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 38.8
12. Jason Bay, Red Sox -- 38.6
13. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins -- 38.6
14. Ryan Howard, Phillies -- 38.4
15. Jayson Werth, Phillies -- 38.3
16. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals -- 38.1
17. Grady Sizemore, Indians -- 38
18. Ryan Braun, Brewers -- 37.6
19. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies -- 37.3
20. Joe Mauer, Twins -- 37.2
21. Nate McLouth, Braves -- 37
22. Curtis Granderson, Tigers -- 36.9
23. Bobby Abreu, Angels -- 36.6
24. Jermaine Dye, White Sox -- 36.5
25. Michael Young, Rangers -- 36.5

Take This To The Bank, Part IV

And last, but not least, here are the top 25 projected RBI leaders:

1. Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- 49.8
2. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 49
3. Ryan Howard, Phillies -- 47.l
4. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 42.7
5. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox -- 42.6
6. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees -- 42.4
7. Prince Fielder, Brewers -- 42.4
8. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays -- 41.6
9. Mark Teixeira, Yankees -- 41.6
10. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 41.5
11. Jason Bay, Red Sox -- 40.9
12. Jim Thome, White Sox -- 40.5
13. Bobby Abreu, Angels -- 40.1
14. Derrek Lee, Cubs -- 40
15. Jermaine Dye, White Sox -- 40
16. Chase Utley, Phillies -- 39.9
17. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs -- 39.8
18. Adam Lind, Blue Jays -- 39.8
19. Grady Sizemore, Indians -- 39.3
20. Kendry Morales, Angels -- 38.4
21. Adam Dunn, Nationals -- 38.2
22. Carlos Lee, Astros -- 38.2
23. Paul Konerko, White Sox -- 37.8
24. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 37.7
25. Torii Hunter, Angels -- 37.7

We Interrupt Baseball Clicks ...

... To announce the arrival of Sports Illustrated's fantasy football spectacular, available online and at magazine racks nationwide. This 168-page tome is chock-full of rankings, columns (two from yours truly), features, draft-day advice, in-season strategies, booms, busts and an experts' mock draft, enlisting an army of SI's award-winning fantasy and NFL writers (including Peter King). Last but not least, it boasts perhaps the coolest cover of any fantasy magazine you'll ever see!

Am I overselling it a little bit? Perhaps. But the early feedback I've gotten from my fantasy brethren suggests SI's first major foray into fantasy football will be an absolute triumph -- and that it could become an all-time best seller within the genre. (UPDATE: My well-placed moles have informed me that SI's fantasy mag is indeed the top seller to date ... sweeeeeet!)

Running A Little Hot
Matt Holliday: Chuck Solomon/SI

This particular segment hits close to home: In my only head-to-head mixed league, I have an absolute glut of outfielders -- Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Kubel, Nyjer Morgan, Andrew McCutchen, Alfonso Soriano, Matt Holliday -- even though only three can start per week (four, counting the DH slot). In other words, I'm stuck with the unenviable task every Sunday night of overanalyzing each player's matchups for the following week ... on the assumption (read: fleeting hope) that I'll have the perfect combination of seven-day starters in my lineup. Well, with the playoffs fast approaching, I must swallow my pride, check my fantasy ego at the door and get rid of a stud or two -- in the name of landing one quality starting pitcher in return (if not two) or dynamic infielder. After some deliberation, I've decided to shop the red-hot Holliday first and foremost, even though he's hitting .528 with 16 runs, five HRs, 17 RBIs and one steal since July 19. My thinking: Holliday's spurt probably won't last through October ... and even if it does, I already have the horses to match or surpass his production sitting on the bench.

I've been fielding offers for Holliday for two weeks; and the way I see it, here are some realistic blockbusters involving the most dangerous Cardinals hitter on the planet right now -- bar none:

**Holliday for Tim Lincecum
**Holliday for Chase Utley
**Holliday for Jimmy Rollins
**Holliday for Prince Fielder
**Holliday for Justin Verlander
**Holliday for Yovani Gallardo/John Lackey
**Holliday for Josh Beckett/Chad Qualls
**Holliday/Zach Duke for Jon Lester/Wandy Rodriguez
**Holliday/Heath Bell for Alex Rodriguez/Matt Garza
**Holliday/Jose Reyes for Justin Masterson/Mark Reynolds/Javier Vazaquez
**Holliday/Billy Butler/Miguel Montero for Jarrod Washburn/Josh Johnson/Russell Martin
**Holliday/Edwin Jackson/Francisco Cordero for Zack Greinke/Hanley Ramirez/Matt Capps

Analyze This

Maybe it stems from the first NFL preseason game being only four days away (Hall of Fame -- Tennessee vs. Buffalo) ... or perhaps it's the dog days of August in full effect, but the & Friends baseball league has been eerily quiet of late -- in terms of well-concecived smack talk or potentially season-defining trades. Case in point: The lone notable transaction in the last 12 days is this yawner involving Rays slugger Pat Burrell and his real-life teammate, pitcher Jeff Niemann. Who's the winner here? Does it matter? For the answers to these questions and more ... I'll let the geniuses at Accuscore analyze the swap with projections from this point forward (Aug. 5-Oct. 1):

Owner A -- Jeff Ritter
Burrell: .230 average (.343 OBP), 19.8 runs, 7.2 HRs, 25.9 RBIs, 0.9 steals

Owner B -- Cory McCartney
Niemann: 5.3 wins, 3.52 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 39.5 strikeouts

Verdict: Forget the rule about never giving up a power hitter for pitching over an extended period -- I would gladly take any starter earmarked for 5-plus wins and a sub-3.60 ERA down the stretch. Advantage, Niemann.

Analyze That

As long as we have the Accuscore Projections Analyzer 5000 cranking ... I am torn between four promising outfielders with similar RBI potential -- Andre Ethier, Nate McLouth, Nelson Cruz, Johnny Damon -- but would only have interest in trading for one. Here are Accuscore's projections from this point forward:

Cruz: .296 average (.367 OBP), 27.5 runs, 13.4 HRs, 30.7 RBIs, 8.2 steals
Damon: .282 average (.366 OBP), 36.6 runs, 8.8 HRs, 29.6 RBIs, 5.7 steals
Ethier: .279 average (.365 OBP), 33.9 runs, 10.1 HRs, 31.7 RBIs, 2.5 steals
McLouth: .255 average (.344 OBP), 36.4 runs, 9 HRs, 31.2 RBIs, 8.6 steals

Verdict: If you're looking for salvation in only runs and steals (aside from RBIs), McLouth might be a surprise upset pick. But there's no disputing the across-the-board potential of the Rangers' Cruz. In fact, looking at the projections, you'd be hard-pressed to find 10 outfielders with better estimates for August and September. Woo ... hoo!

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 San Diego Union-Tribune writer Bill Center's engaging insight on Padres Adrian Gonzalez, Jake Peavy, Heath Bell, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Chase Headley, Kyle Blanks, 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.

Stock Report

In case you care, here's an update for the much-talked-about & Friends fantasy league. In addition to the pennant winner earning the big prize, there's a bonus given to the team with the biggest jump in points AFTER the All-Star break:

1. Teixeira's Slow Start (Jon Machota) -- 106 points (superb in all 10 categories ... wow!)
2. This Week's TWIB Notes (Jay Clemons) -- 97 points (I'm top-4 in 7 categories)
3. Pete Rose's Best Bet (Tim Dwyer) -- 92.5 points (HRs/Saves are the bane of his existence)
4. The Farmer John Family (Scott Wraight) -- 87.5 points (say hello to Tuesday's 4-point bump)
5. Being Kenny Powers (Bobby Kight) -- 85 points (The Kight Bros. walk alike, talk alike ...)
5a. Prestige Worldwide (Charlie Kight) -- 85 points (... sometimes they even struggle alike!)
7. Downtown Killer B's (Mike Bernaiche) -- 83 points (no longer sitting with the peanut gallery)
8. The Funcookers (Jeff Ritter) -- 71.5 points (the best of the have-nots, for what it's worth)
9. Krasmanian Devils (Lonny Krasnow) -- 69 points (should've traded Lincecum as a lifeline)
10. Packham Mortuary (Drew Packham) -- 68.5 points (former leader suprisingly stuck in neutral)
11. Hoboken Highlanders (David Katz) -- 67 points (let the Uribe/LaRoche derby begin!)
12. Hackensack Bulls (Cory McCartney) -- 59 points (say hey to Miggy and the Jordannaires)
13. Joker Marchants (Josh Wymer) -- 41 points (when will this freefall come to an end?)
14. The Brandon & Jason Show (Marcus/Schwartz) -- 38 points (hey guys, you got the memo that only the club with largest J-U-M-P in points gets the bonus, right?)

I Cannot Leave Without Dismissing ...

The Big Ten Network, for essentially giving its loyal viewers a thinly veiled "Forget You" (or something like that) this week. For seven loooooooooooong days, beginning last Monday (and running through Aug. 10), BTN will be showing nothing but relevant-but-oh-so-boring campus programming involving the 11 member schools (including Michigan State, my alma mater). So, in case you're scoring at home, that's 168 uninterrupted hours without Big Ten Tonight (hosted by Dave Revsine), any fall replays of the uncanny Friday Night Tailgate ... or any re-broadcast of a classic Big Ten football or basketball game from 1974-2004.

If I didn't know any better ... I'd swear this unprecedented marathon of unwatchable television was some kind of court-ordered community service gig (probably for sending two teams to BCS games last year). By the way, the run of PBS-like programming ends next Monday at 6 a.m. EST., with a no-holds-barred airing of the 2009 Big Ten rowing championships. Set your DVRs up now!

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