Glad I Could Help…

Today, June 30th, ESPN posted an article by Steve Berthiaume: http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/13026/where-did-you-go-mike-schmidt

This article discusses the lack of decent 3B in Major League Baseball right now.

On June 28th, I wrote this article:

https://thebaseballhaven.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/how-to-get-to-third-base/

This article discussed the lack of decent 3B in Major League Baseball right now.

It would be nice to have a job at ESPN.  Maybe one day I can write on a site to get paid for it, as I clearly have the stones to write my own stuff.  Nice job Berthiaume.  If only more people went to sites like thebaseballhaven.wordpress.com for all of their baseball information needs, they would have information like “How to Get to Third Base” before the Mothership.

 

 

Guess Who Doesn’t Suck…June Hitting Stars

These are guys who may still fly under the radar who showed plenty of promise in the month of June.  Keep an eye on them or see if you can get them cheap, as they are heating up along with the summer.

Brennan Boesch: .380/.437/.620, 8 2B, 6 HR, 13 RBI – You may have been burned by his drastic 2nd half decline last season, but Boesch started his decline in May (.186/.226/.326) only to have his best month of the season in June.  He will continue to be a solid player over the rest of the season.

J.J. Hardy: .370/.418/.710, 7 2B, 9 HR, 18 RBI – Think the Twins could use a guy like this right about now?  Hardy went from an All Star SS hitting 50 HR between 2007 and 2008, to getting traded twice since November of 2009.  Baltimore is taking advantage of his current outburst and he is a very good SS option again.

Michael Cuddyer: .323/.402/.602, 11 2B, 5 HR, 17 RBI – Cuddyer hit 32 HR and had 94 RBI in 2009, and the Twins need him to do that again, especially with Mauer, Young, Kubel, and Morneau spending time being on the DL or unproductive.  Cuddyer is on pace to finish with 33 2B, 21 HR, 62 RBI, and 14 SB, which is solid, especially if he has 2B eligibility in your league.

Carlos Pena: .229/.330/.594, 5 2B, 10 HR, 20 RBI – Pena is doing his typical production with an ugly average, but you can’t ignore the power.  He posted a .924 OPS while hitting .229 and striking out in 30% of his AB in June.  He is now on pace for 34 HR and 87 RBI.

Alex Avila: .346/.409/.551, 6 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 17 RBI – It’s probably too late to get this young catcher on the cheap, but if you can, do it.  Avila had a rough May, hitting just .246/.346/.522, but even hitting just .246, he posted his worst OPS, .868.  Avila has a great home park for his game.  He can really drive the ball, as his 17 XBH show, but he has been just as reliable on the road, 12 XBH.  His .303/.371/.538 line should hold over the season, as he moves into elite catcher status.

Watch out for the next Brennan Boesch this season as we head into the later months of the season.  Hopefully these guys will continue to rake and be useful fantasy options that you can pick up on the cheap from some moronic owner.

Guess Who Doesn’t Suck…June Star Pitchers

These guys have done an amazing job so far in June.  Keep an eye on them from here on out, hoping they don’t hit a wall, as they are good buy options right now.  I have excluded guys you would know to look for, such as Justin Verlander and Cliff Lee.

Jordan Zimmerman: 3-1, 0.85 ERA, 42 1/3 IP, 27/7 K/BB, .216 BAA

Carlos Carrasco: 4-2, 1.90 ERA, 42 2/3 IP, 28/7 K/BB, .196 BAA

Tim Stauffer: 3-2, 1.98 ERA, 41 IP, 37/8 K/BB, .209 BAA

Joakim Soria: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 12 IP, 10 G, 12/2 K/BB, 6 SV, .098 BAA – Remember when he lost his job?  He’s an elite closer again.

Johnny Cueto: 3-0, 1.51 ERA, 35 2/3 IP, 28/8 K/BB, .168 BAA

Scott Baker: 4-2, 2.45 ERA, 44 IP, 40/9 K/BB, .236 BAA

Try to grab these guys cheap while you can.

 

Amazing Column – Read the Link, Too.

Joe Mauer…officially called out: http://www.startribune.com/sports/twins/124575378.html

This is a great read.  Jim Souhan is a columnist for the Star Tribune in Minnesota.  He may not be welcomed into the Twins locker room after this, but it needed to be said.  Great job!  Mauer has been a total bust since signing his contract.  He had 28 HR in 2009 and then had his power zapped by Target Field, which isn’t his fault, but this year is a sign of things to come.  At 28, he has knee issues and back issues.  This is exactly why you don’t pay catchers, why you don’t go all in with your fantasy teams at catcher, and why the Twins will not matter in the next couple of seasons when half of their payroll is going to a guy who can play about 120 games.  Souhan calls on Mauer to play 1B or DH and how he hasn’t forced himself into the lineup.  That is what a leader does.  Mauer isn’t what the Twins thought he was.  He was the type of player that should have gone to the highest bidders, not to a small market team like the Twins.  Carlos Santana and Victor Martinez are playing the catching postion right – catching and DHing or playing 1B when they aren’t behind the plate.  He is needed in the lineup.  Catching is a tough position and the players tend to age poorly, but this is ridiculous.  He was #1 when he was picked in 2001, but he is losing his luster quickly.  He is an All Star in popularity only.  He needs to make sure his cup is covering anything down there and get in the lineup.

 

Hangin’ on Cliff

Cliff Lee had an amazing stretch in 2008 from April 6th to May 12, covering 7 starts.  He allowed just 4 ER, posting a 0.67 ERA over 53 2/3 IP that year.  Today, Cliff Lee can be celebrated due to his 5 June starts, where he allowed 1 ER over 42 IP, good for a 0.21 ERA.  Dominance clearly isn’t new to Lee, but there was one time when his career was hanging by a thread.

Cliff Lee was demoted to Triple-A by Cleveland in July of 2007 after he went 5-8 with a 6.38 ERA in 16 starts.  He wasn’t re-called until the rosters expanded in September, and, even upon his return, he made just 4 relief appearances.  Then, 2008 happened.  While Lee finished 4th in the Cy Young voting in 2005 after going 18-5 with a 3.79 ERA, he became a different pitcher.  He was 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 2008 and won the AL Cy Young.  An amazing turnaround which catapulted Lee into the elite starting pitching class.  Since the beginning of the 2008 season, Lee is 57-30 with a 2.93 ERA over 789 1/3 IP.

At 32, Cliff Lee has overcome his demotion and hasn’t had to deal with a significant injury to this point (knock on wood Philly fans).  He has a long-term commitment to the Phillies, a surprising signing this winter, where he will continue this type of dominance with a weak NL East.  He should battle his teammate, Roy Halladay, for the next several NL Cy Young Awards, joining Halladay as the 6th pitcher to win the Cy Young in both leagues (Halladay, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Gaylord Perry).

The Ray of Hope in Tampa

Maybe Carl Crawford is worth $142 million to the Red Sox.  Maybe he truly was an elite LF, even while posting just a .294/.334/.441 slash over his nine years in Tampa, showcasing speed with mediocre plate discipline, yet, plenty of production.  His typical season would include 28 2B, 14 3B, 14 HR, 78 RBI, and 52 SB.  That is a far cry from what they are getting right now all over the field.

Take a look at the Rays roster.  They have had production from Casey Kotchman (.338/.395/.464), Ben Zobrist (.268/.347/.475, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 52 Runs), Matt Joyce (.309/.371/.534, 10 HR, 38 RBI), B.J. Upton (.222/.308/.385, 11 HR, 41 RBI, Johnny Damon (.273/.321/.423, 9 HR, 37 RBI), and Evan Longoria (.249/.341/.481, 10 HR, 34 RBI in just 52 games).  Upton’s strikeout rate is just slightly higher than his career average (28.7 v. 28.4), but his BABIP is just .267, while his career BABIP is .327.  Joyce has bombed in June, hitting just .169/.235/.296.  Longoria has been on a heating up, posting a .324/.439/.853 with 5 HR and 15 RBI in just 8 games since June 20th.

Even with solid production from six of their nine regulars, the Rays are 11th in the AL in AVG and OBP, 7th in SLG, 7th in Runs, and having the 4th most strikeouts in the AL.  The issue seems to be that three positions are a platoon.  These platoons have been awful:

Catcher: John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach – These two are a combined .207/.280/.326 with 12 2B, 7 HR, 29 RBI, and 27 R.

Short: Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson – The three have struggled to a .202/.261/.328 with 18 2B, 4 3B, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 45 R, and 11 SB

Left Field: Sam Fuld and Justin Ruggiano – At times productive, these two have combined to hit .253/.307/.391 with 17 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 34 R, and 17 SB.

The funny thing about the LF issue is that, though Fuld started hot and Ruggiano has done the same, Desmond Jennings is rotting in Triple-A for Service Time concerns.  He’s 24, turns 25 in October, and they need to get him up to produce now.  He is hitting .280/.373/.459 with 14 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 33 RBI, 54 R, and 15 SB.  They need his right handed bat: Damon, Jaso, Elliot, Brignac, Fuld, Kotchman, Zobrist, and Joyce are all left handed hitters.  The team NEEDS Desmond Jennings.  The Rays are 2 1/2 games out in the AL East because their starting pitchers have an ERA of 3.44 between David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis, Alex Cobb, and Jeff Niemann over their 76 starts.  The six have a 34-26 record to show for it.  While no platoon can make up for the production lost by Crawford’s departure, there is a young man in Durham who could make a difference.  While he isn’t guaranteed to do so, the experiments at catcher, short, and left leave a trial for Jennings as the right move right now.

How to Get to Third Base…

Someone needs to point this out to Major League teams because suddenly, there aren’t any reliable hot corner players in the world of fantasy baseball.  If you were lucky enough to snag Alex Rodriguez, congratulations, maybe Cameron Diaz will feed you popcorn when you win your league title.  Unfortunately, there is an interesting fall off from there.  A-Rod has done a nice job with his .300/.377/.513 slash with his 13 HR and 51 RBI.  The only 3B outperforming him, at least in run production, is Adrian Beltre, who is sporting a .263/.308/.461 slash with  14 HR and 56 RBI.  Kevin Youkilis is right behind with a .272/.394/.490 slash with 11 HR and 55 RBI.  Rounding out the top producers are Aramis “Contract Year” Ramirez (.291/.338/.446, 8 HR, 37 RBI), Mark “Homer or Strikeout” Reynolds (.227/.356/.463, 14 HR, 38 RBI), Chipper Jones (.257/.342/.444, 7 HR, 43 RBI), and Placido “I Slap the Ball” Polanco (.289/.341/.366, 4 HR, 39 RBI).

Once the familiar, somewhat, productive names disappear, you see Chase Headley, Ryan Roberts, and Ty Wigginton in the fantasy top 10.  Ty Wigginton?  Are you kidding me!?  Scott Rolen is old, Evan Longoria is finally coming around after battling an injury, David Wright broke his back after carrying Jose Reyes’ hype for three years, Pablo Sandoval had a broken wrist and has come back looking like the rest of the league’s 3B, Ryan Zimmerman has been hurt, and if someone finds the Chone Figgins who used to be useful on the Angels, let the Seattle P.D. know where he is, as his contract has been a larceny.

The future hasn’t really worked out either.  Mike Moustakas has driven himself in on a solo homer, then, stopped.  He still hasn’t had an RBI since June 11th when he hit his first and only homer.  Brett Lawrie had his wrist broken, Ian Stewart has been a total bust since he “broke out” with his 25 HR, .225 AVG 2009 campaign, and Pedro Alvarez is hurt, leaving behind a .208/.283/.304 slash with 10 HR and 38 RBI in his 36 games played (truly making his “when he makes contact” moments count).

So what happens from here…Sit back and wait for Lonnie Chisenhall, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas, Zack Cox, Todd Frazier, Alex Liddi, Matt Dominguez, Nolan Arenado, Jefry Marte, and James Darnell?  Hope for rebounds from the injuries and slow starts?  Go all in on David Freese or Casey McGehee.  Just hope that your pitching is stronger than your offense?  Ouch…Getting to third base is a lot harder these days.