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Scott Pianowski

Closing Time: Sympathy for the Orioles (and Jake Arrieta, and Corey Patterson)

Scott Pianowski
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The Orioles are the worst team in baseball in 2010 and no one is reasonably close right now. Baltimore's stumbling along with an 18-47 record (a miserable .277 clip) and is on pace to lose 117 ballgames. They're losing buzz in the DC market as the Washington Nationals are playing close to .500 ball and have the Stephen Strasburg(notes) bounce working for them. It's not a fun time to be around Camden Yards.

That all said, fantasy owners need to make sure they don't dismiss this team out of hand. Every major-league club has some fantasy value to send our way, even in mixed leagues, and with that in mind, let's see what the Orioles can do for us.

Let's start with rookie pitcher Jake Arrieta(notes), who won his second consecutive game on Tuesday, a snappy seven-inning effort at San Francisco (3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K). You'd like to see more strikeouts from Arrieta and we're also talking about a fly-ball pitcher here (he collected cans of corn against the Giants), but the kid's minor-league profile suggests that better strikeout days are ahead. At minimum, let's put Arrieta into the stream file for consideration when he faces San Diego, at Petco Park, on Sunday.

Arrieta's win was secured by Will Ohman(notes) and David Hernandez(notes) (save No. 2), not that either guy looked that sharp. Hernandez retired three of the four men he faced but the appearance didn't pass the eye test; the first out came when Juan Uribe(notes) flied out to the warning track in right (the wind probably kept the ball in the park) and the final out came when Pablo Sandoval(notes) launched an absolute pellet to third base that Miguel Tejada(notes) was able to snare. I suppose Juan Samuel could look at the result and ignore the process, and Hernandez did record a strikeout as well, but I'm just trying to make the point that the video wasn't as tidy as the box score might suggest. Stay warm, Alfredo Simon(notes).

Anyone feel like joining me with a little Corey Patterson(notes) appreciation? Patterson stole his ninth bag Tuesday (he's only been caught once) and he's got four multiple-hit games over his last five starts.

Look, we all know the negatives to the Patterson file (too many strikeouts, not enough walks, failed prospect-turned-journeyman), but to some extent production has to be the bottom line as we chase possible pickups, and I've got absolutely no trouble giving a crazy "where did this come from?" story a chance to develop. If Patterson turns into a pumpkin in a week or a month, fine, I'll drop him. But for the moment, I see a guy getting leadoff time (no matter if he really deserves it), stealing bases and hitting the odd homer (three over 28 games). There's a market for that.

At the end of the day, our make-believe game is about the numbers, not the names. I'm not confident that Patterson will be a long-running story, but I'll take short-term production where I can get it.

Andy Behrens told us earlier in the week that the Pedro Alvarez(notes) era was close to starting in Pittsburgh, and the call finally came after Tuesday's game; Alvarez will be with the Bucs on Wednesday, mercifully pushing Andy LaRoche(notes) to the bench. Alvarez certainly deserved the promotion, posting a .280/.365/.540 line at Triple-A Indianapolis with 13 homers over 239 at-bats. It won't be a shock if he's a mixed-league impact player right away; keep in mind that Alvarez was the second-overall pick in the 2008 draft. MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch suggests that Alvarez is the team's most anticipated prospect arrival since Barry Bonds.

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Delmon Young's(notes) current hot streak is now over three weeks old, so the numbers he's posting probably aren't that much of a surprise to you. Over his last 22 games he's batting .359 with four homers, 24 RBIs and a .590 slugging percentage. But here's what I can't figure out for the life of me – how is Young available in over 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues right now?

Is this a case of fantasy players writing off a player for good and not reopening the argument? Are roto players overreacting to the early offensive returns from Target Field? Can anyone think of a good reason not to buy in on Young right now? We are talking about a former No. 1 overall pick, after all, and someone we all wanted to draft a couple of years ago. Post-hype breakouts are a wonderful thing; I just wish I could get Young in some of my leagues (the window closed a long time back). And so it goes.

Travis Hafner(notes) hit his fourth home run in six games on Tuesday, and it was no cheap accomplishment – he connected against Johan Santana(notes), of all people. Alas, Hafner's timing is a little off with respect to his recent surge; the Indians start a nine-game road trip this weekend with all the games coming in National League parks, and that's probably going to keep Hafner on the bench more often than not. He hasn't played a game in the field since 2007

The Big Lie known as Aaron Harang(notes) gave us another typical start: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 5 K. The Dodgers went on to score a 12-0 victory, adding seven runs against four Cincinnati relievers.

It's time to let the Harang pipe dream go, amigos. I don't care what his K/BB rate is, and I don't care how creatively you can build a case for this guy. What I see is someone who can't keep the ball in the park (albeit he didn't allow a homer Tuesday) and someone that can't be trusted on a regular basis.

Yes, his HR/FB rate is consistently over the league average and that's generally considered bad luck, but when someone is unlucky on a yearly basis (Harang has been over the league average in this stat for five years running) I'm no longer interested in making excuses for the player. His salad days were fun, back in 2005-2007, but that was a long time ago. If you want to ride on the Harang carnival ride, that's your business. I'm not buying.

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Injury Blog: Nelson Cruz(notes) (hamstring) did a host of baseball activities Tuesday and reported no problems, an encouraging sign. He's expected to go through the same testing (running, fielding, batting) on Wednesday, and then the team will re-evaluate things. … Alex Rodriguez(notes) (hip) was given another day off Tuesday but apparently the plan is for him to return Wednesday. … Brian Roberts(notes) needs another 4-6 weeks of rehab time according to beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli; this means the second baseman could be out until August. Of course with Baltimore's season already dead and buried, you have to wonder how much Roberts will be asked to do later in the year. … Magglio Ordonez(notes) (oblique) was back at work Tuesday, collecting four hits against the Nationals. … John Baker(notes) (elbow) is going to avoid surgery but he's not going to return before mid-August, which means Ronny Paulino(notes) is a nice deep-league catcher grab if you're in need of some backstop help. … Chad Billingsley(notes) (groin) tried to throw in the bullpen Tuesday but things didn't go so well and the Dodgers wound up putting him on the 15-day DL, retroactive to June 12. As a result of Billingsley being disabled, John Ely(notes) will move up a day and work Thursday at Cincinnati (not the best locale for him). … Jimmy Rollins(notes) (calf) started his rehab assignment on Tuesday and he's hoping to get back as soon as possible, perhaps by the weekend. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. considers that timetable aggressive but possible. … The Mets don't expect Carlos Beltran(notes) (knee) to start his rehab assignment this week. He's currently working in extended spring training. … Orlando Hudson(notes) (wrist) was able to take batting practice Tuesday but the Twins did not activate him off the DL.

Speed Round: The Conor Jackson deal really isn't worth much discussion, but it does at least show Arizona wants to shake things up and might be serious about a roster overhaul. … Nothing official has been said yet but context clues point to Chipper Jones(notes) hanging it up at the end of the year. You have to feel for the guy; he's played through a laundry list of injuries over the final quarter of his career, and he's obviously in discomfort regularly. … Roy Halladay(notes) probably doesn't miss the AL East very much - he went to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday and was knocked around pretty good (6 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 3 HR). He's back home for his next start, up against Minnesota. … Gerald Laird(notes) is one of the better throwing catchers in the AL but Nyjer Morgan(notes) swiped two bags against the Tigers on Tuesday. … Gordon Beckham(notes) posted a 4-1-2-3 line, if you wanted to know. He's up to .210 on the year, but I'm still glad I dropped him for a pre-closer John Axford(notes) back on May 20. … I might start a midseason league just so I can overpay for Andrew McCutchen(notes) (I missed him everywhere back in March). McCutchen swiped three bases against the White Sox Tuesday and has a good shot at a 20-homer, 40-steal season. … So much for Felipe Paulino's(notes) run; the Royals threw a 10-spot at him on Tuesday, quickly wrecking the momentum Paulino had going from the previous month. The big innings was mostly a bunch of singles, but hey, they all count. I still don't think he's a bad play in NL-only leagues and very deep mixers. … There are countless stories still untold; let's continue the banter in the comments.

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