Teams will try anything to stop Bonifacio (USP)The dismantling of the Marlins is well underway, as we all can see. Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante hit Detroit a couple of days ago. Hanley Ramirez jetted west on Wednesday (with a brief layover in the midwest). More moves are certainly in the works.
What's a Marlin to do in the meantime? Rabbit, run.
While Atlanta rolled past Miami on Wednesday afternoon, 7-1, Ozzie Guillen's men made an interesting statement on the basepaths. The Marlins collected seven stolen bases in seven attempts; Jose Reyes and Donovan Solano bagged two each, and Justin Ruggiano, Emilio Bonifacio and Bryan Petersen nabbed one apiece. Braves righty Tommy Hanson isn't the king of holding on runners, mind you, but base stealers were only 13-for-19 entering the day. Not everyone gets it for free.
Solano's off to a nifty start in the majors, posting a .322/.406/.441 slash through 59 at-bats, with eight walks and four steals. He qualifies at shortstop and outfield in Yahoo's game, and he'll soon be adding third base. But the story runs out of steam when you consider his minor-league profile; his career slash in the bush leagues is .260/.314/.319, and he only stole 26 bases over 738 games. He posted a .653 OPS in 36 games with Triple-A New Orleans this year, swiping four bags.
Maybe aggressive baseball will be good to Reyes and Bonifacio over the final two months. We welcome Bonifacio shifting to second base this week, because he was on track to be OF-only for the 2013 fantasy season. He'd like to make a run at the steals title, and despite missing six weeks of action, he's still in the race. Dee Gordon paces the NL with 30 steals (that's not moving for a while), while Michael Bourn has 28. Mike Trout's 31 lead the major leagues.
More running from Reyes would be appreciated, too. He only attempted three steals in June, but he's been more aggressive in July 5-for-7 through 21 games. He's also hit four homers this month, and if you crunch all the stats together, Reyes is the No. 2 fantasy shortstop for July. For whatever reason, his game is coming around.
And I'm going to keep defending Ruggiano, as I have for a solid month or so. His .367 average is filled with flukes, but we shouldn't ignore the category juice at play (seven homers and seven steals over 120 at-bats). His outfield slot is solidified now that Bonifacio is tied to second base. I realize we're trained to be skeptical of career minor-leaguers who all of a sudden make a splash at age 30 — that's Ruggiano's story — but he had a handful of production seasons in Triple-A, and seemed to get labeled before anyone really gave him a fair shake. There's talent here, and you can still grab the Rug Rat in 76 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
How soon is now? (USP)• The Astros are another club that's obviously ready to sell anything not tied down, but that doesn't mean we should completely ignore their bullpen. Houston will find a way to win some games, like any other club, and their handshakes are as good as anyone else's.
In other words, I don't understand why Wilton Lopez is only owned in five percent of Yahoo! Leagues. He figures to own the ninth inning here soon enough.
Francisco Cordero's right arm looks absolutely cooked. He's already collected two messy blown saves in two days for the Astros, and he couldn't get anyone out in the AL, either. For the season he carries a 6.87 ERA and 1.91 WHIP. He's not fooling anyone. Houston was probably dreaming of a flip special, but why would any contender want Cordero on its roster?
Everything is in place with Lopez: 2.61 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 30 strikeouts, five walks. And don't hassle me over his career save ledger (one handshake, 10 blown saves); that stat is completely irrelevant for any pitcher that's asked to work in a set-up role. The burden of the non-closing reliever is this: you'll routinely get asked to protect a lead (often with no wiggle room at all), but you'll rarely be asked to complete the game to the finish. In other words, you get chances to blow saves, but you don't get chances to convert saves. This stat means nothing to the men who toil in the seventh and eighth inning.
• We've spent a lot of time on the Brewers bullpen, so the obligatory John Axford/Franciscio Rodriguez bullet won't be long. The Axman hasn't allowed a run over his last five appearances (2 H, 1 BB, 5 K), while K-Rod has been a disaster over the last week (3.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 7 BB, 4 K). Rodriguez blew two saves in the Philadelphia series, and Wednesday's giveaway came on the heels of two dominant Axford innings (six men retired, three by strikeout).
The Brewers made it clear all along that Axford's demotion was just a temporary thing; I'd be very surprised if the next Milwaukee save chance didn't go to The Axman. And I consider Rodriguez to be unownable in any format, no matter how deep. Call him a cab. Better yet, make him walk.
• Ricky Romero is still owned in 69 percent of Yahoo! leagues, for reasons I can't completely fathom. We're on the cusp of August, gamer. It's not a bad start at this point, it's a bad season.
The surging A's hit Romero for eight runs Wednesday, and it's the third time in six starts Romero has dialed eight. His last nine starts stack up this way: one win, 8.74 ERA, 29 walks, 25 strikeouts. How much evidence are you looking for? How much proof do you need? Even if Romero magically fixes whatever's ailing him, he still has to work in the hardest pitching division in the majors. Anyone in a mixer needs to run away from this problem.
• Rumors are circulating that Troy Tulowitzki (groin) could be done for the year. It certainly makes sense to me; it's a significant injury and the team is buried in the standings. Why take any chances? This is more proof to the concept that you don't want to expect best-case scenarios when your star gets hurt. I tend to be more pessimistic than most in these instances, and I'm not afraid to liquidate someone rather than ride the rehab out.
Josh Rutledge is an interesting roto fill-in for the interim: he's on a .356/.375/.622 run through 12 games (one homer, three steals) and he was raking at Double-A. If only Jim Tracy would get the memo, raise the kid in the lineup. Colorado starts a nine-game homestand Friday, so stock up on some Rockies (and Reds, Cardinals and Giants).