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Closing Time: Stupid bloody Tuesday

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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And today's sacrifice to the injury gods is . . . Brandon Phillips. Start scrambling for a new second baseman friends.

Phillips was the hero in Tuesday's win at Milwaukee, producing the go-ahead single in the top of the 11th Alas, earlier in the at-bat Phillips tried to bunt and the ball caromed off his right index finger, breaking it. He'll be examined Wednesday by team doctors, but it's very likely he's done for the year.

Phillips is an interesting call at the draft table next spring, as he took a notable step back in every fantasy category this year (dropping 27 batting points, 27 runs, nine homers, 17 RBs and nine steals, not to mention 60 points in OPS). He'll probably be an elite fantasy commodity so long as he continues to run aggressively, but if that part of his game dips even more, we're looking at a glorified three-category player. Call me crazy, but I think I'd rather have the safety of a Brian Roberts or Dustin Pedroia.

Crummy timing for Paul Konerko, battling a sore knee just as his bat started to heat up. X-rays came back negative, but we'll learn more from Wednesday's MRI.

Hopefully this mad Andre Ethier run makes it clear to the Dodgers that he needs to be an everyday player from the jump next year. I realize he hasn't hit lefties that well this season, but that wasn't a problem in prior years, and he's been arguably the NL's best stick since Manny Ramirez touched down in Hollywood. It was more of the same for Ethier Tuesday (two hits, four RBIs), and yet, he's still not fully owned across the fantasy universe. I guess a lot of leagues have downshifted to football mode.

One of my leagues went to a transaction cap this season; it wasn't my choice but I just play with the rulebook they give me. With limited moves available, most of my second-half offensive pickups have been tied to multiple-position guys, just to insure that I won't be taking any zeroes in the final month as injuries hit. Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. I've taken the same tack in one of my cash leagues where pickups have an escalating cost; I try to run the club like I have an unlimited budget, but I also live in the real world.

Look-aheads are always important in this game, especially at this time of year, so let's sneak a peak at Thursday's 10-game slate and how to approach it:

Just one early game, Kansas City at Minnesota (1:10 pm eastern). Francisco Liriano goes for the Twins, so don't bother renting hitters from the Royals . . . Ubaldo Jimenez should be owned in any competitive group, but maybe in the shallow pool you can snag him and throw him at Atlanta (good draw) . . . Zach Jackson and Brian Bass take the mound as the Indians hit Baltimore. Umm, yeah, let's get some hitters ready to go . . . Zach Duke had it at San Francisco but there's no way we should expect a repeat at Houston. Roy Oswalt has been money lately, anyway . . . Brandon Morrow at Los Angeles, must-see TV . . . Rich Harden pitches at St. Louis and Cubs Nation watches with baited breath. I wouldn't sweat Todd Wellemeyer against the slumping Cubs . . . Josh Geer has been more lucky than good in his two starts so far. Look for Matt Cain to get one of those elusive wins.

Make it ten wins in a row for the Blue Jays, who swept a doubleheader at Chicago courtesy of power (A.J. Burnett) and precision (Jesse Litsch). Ace Doc Halladay gets the ball tomorrow, and if he feels the Jays are still in the race on the weekend he may work Sunday on three days of rest. Toronto is currently seven games behind Boston for the Wild Card slot, and they're also a game back of Minnesota. The Jays get back to the YYZ next week and get nine home dates over the last 12 days of the season.

Dan Johnson resurfaced with the Rays Tuesday and hit a game-tying homer of Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth at Fenway. Later in the inning Dioner Navarro delivered the game-winning hit, and Troy Percival closed with an uneventful ninth (one walk). I was driving in the car when I heard Scott Van Pelt compare Johnson to Donny Most; I almost drove off the road.

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Here, There and Everywhere: Albert Pujols isn't going down without a fight, no matter how his elbow feels. He had a homer and two hits Tuesday . . . My computer tells me Barry Zito struck out nine over six innings, but I didn't see it, maybe it didn't happen . . . Chris Snyder is only hitting .250 in the second half, but with eight homers and 30 RBIs, I'm not going to quibble. He's the No. 7 catcher in the Y! game over the last month . . . A sore quad knocked Torii Hunter out of Tuesday's game in the sixth inning, and the Angels can nurse him back slowly given where they sit in the standings . . . Troy Glaus left Tuesday's game in the fourth inning with a strained shoulder. Fantasy chameleon Felipe Lopez moved from second to third at that time, with Aaron Miles taking over at second . . . Two more hits and a full line for Rajai Davis, who's getting run on every team I care about right now . . . Spin the spinner on the Milton Bradley nick-o-meter: today we land on "strained lower back" and he had a sore wrist on the weekend . . . You're on a desert island and only have room for The Bends or OK Computer. What's the call? . . . Travis Hafner had two singles and a walk in his first game back Tuesday, but I'll keep the skeptical tack on this one . . . Michael Bourn has four steals over the last week, and runs in six straight games. Let him out of the doghouse.

Let's tip the Closing Time cap for Mike Gonzalez, who had a magical four-year stretch come to an end Tuesday. Gonzalez couldn't close out Jorge Campillo's win against Colorado, and it was the lefty's first blown opportunity in 40 chances, dating back to June of 2004. Even with Gonzalez's health problems over the years it's a very impressive streak; keep in mind he had countless appearances over the years where he was given the chance to blow a save in a set-up role (without being asked to stay for the ninth). When this guy is right physically, you almost feel sorry for the hitters.

Some closers who got it right Tuesday: Matt Lindstrom (2, and endorsed by Fredi Gonzalez), B.J. Ryan (28), Luis Ayala (6), Brad Ziegler (7), Francisco Cordero (29), and rogue among us Warner Madrigal (1). The Cardinals also got a win from Chris Perez, while Papelbon and Fernando Rodney took losses.

Todd Coffey, designated for assignment. Had Closing Time existed back in 2006, he would have been a hot springtime topic. You're free to reminisce on your own; we'll do it all again tomorrow night.

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