Known as the Sacagawea of fantasy primers, the Weekly Rundown guides head-to-head owners through a forest of obscure stats and exploitable matchups in an attempt to help solve lineup conundrums. While reading, keep in mind matchups are subject to change due to managerial moves, unforeseen injuries and Mother Nature's influences.
• Prolific blogger, Raconteurs enthusiast, former Notre Dame Football standout, mullet protagonist -- Cubs reliever Jeff Samardzija is a complex man. However, yesterday in his major league debut, the gangly 23-year-old kept things simple, launching blazing fastball after blazing fastball in two innings of relief.
The Chicago "Shark's" final line (2 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 K) may not have stirred the fantasy blood but the bevy of 96-99 mph heaters certainly did. With the exception of one misstep, Cubs skipper Lou Piniella was impressed with the youngster's debut, remarking to the Northwest Indiana Times:
"The new kid threw the ball well. He even got the pitch-out sign. The only thing is he threw it on the screen."
"He's got a nice, fresh arm. We're going to give him an opportunity to see what he can do. He's stretched out. We can use him about any way we want. The best way is to get him in there in the middle part of the ballgame, and if he's pitching well, let him go a little longer."
Prior to his promotion, the bushy-haired righty was dynamite in 37.1 innings at Triple-A Iowa. His appetizing 9.64 K/9 and improving command (2.86 BB/9 in July) suggests his fantasy future could be very bright for owners scratching and clawing for strikeouts in deep leagues. Because his offspeed stuff coaxes numerous groundballs (1.39 GB/FB at Iowa) Samardzija will be highly effective once he confidently throws his splitter/change at the big league level.
Look for him to enter and clear the Yahoo! waivers system this upcoming week.
• As the Piano Man first reported earlier this afternoon, Casey Blake (64.3 percent owned) is officially the third unexciting player to roam the hot corner at Chavez Ravine. Shipped earlier today from Cleveland to Los Angeles for catcher Carlos Santana and pitcher Jonathan Meloan, Blake will overtake Andy LaRoche and Blake DeWitt at third. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti was outwardly giddy about the deal telling the Associated Press:
"Casey is a gamer. His experience and character will be a plus as we head down the stretch in the final two months of the regular season."
For most owners, Blake's cross country address change doesn't match Colletti's jubilation, except for those hoarding FAAB dollars in NL-only leagues. Surprisingly, he's the 15th-best third basemen in Y! leagues over the past month and with multiple position eligibility (1B, 3B, OF), he will be valuable in deep formats.
Given his scorching .393 BA with runners in scoring position, 23.4 LD% and .352 BA with seven homers and 29 RBIs since June 1, the versatile 34-year-old could post appreciable totals in BA and RBIs batting out of the sixth/seventh spot over the final two months of the season.
Recall at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes luncheon in February, Fields remarked that he "questioned" whether professional baseball was for him after being exposed to numerous debaucheries in the White Sox clubhouse last year. Considering inflatable love buddies and Ozzie Guillen expletives have been seen/spewed regularly in the locker room this year, Fields will surely be offended often.
At least, that's what deep-thinking fantasy owners in dire need of homers are hoping.
If the 25-year-old can vent the viewed indecencies through his bat, he could emerge a profitable power source over the next two weeks.
Bothered by persistent tendonitis in his right knee for much of the season, Fields has had a tumultuous year. His numbers accrued at Triple-A Charlotte (215 at-bats, .251 BA, 9 HR, 30 RBI, 34 R, 34.4 K%) reflect his woes. As he told the Chicago Tribune July 26:
"It has been an emotional year. You just adapt to where you are and go out and play well. If you're hurting, you have to find some way to mentally mask it."
Now healthy and revitalized, Fields could be auditioning for more consistent playing time, potentially for another organization. Due to recent inconsistencies in the South Side rotation, GM Ken Williams said he's willing to package Fields and Gavin Floyd for an elite starter.
Going 1-for-3 with a run scored batting eighth in his '08 debut, the 85 percent available Fields, who is eligible at multiple positions (3B, OF) in Y! leagues, is worth adding in deep mixed formats. Remember, he cracked a homer once every 16.2 at-bats with the senior club last season. If Crede suffers a more significant setback or a team with a vacancy at third/outfield deals for his services, he could smack 8-12 homers down the stretch with regular playing time.
*Stiffy and Iffy: Carlos Gomez (back)
Hidden Lumberjacks (last seven days): Freddy Sanchez, Pit, 2B (15-21, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 8.8% owned), Jeff Baker, Col, 1B/2B/3B (12-24, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 9.2%), Adam Lind, Tor, OF (12-28, HR, 5 RBI, 0.57%), Melvin Mora, Bal, 3B (12-28, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 13.3%), Ian Stewart, Col, 2B/3B (12-24, HR, 12 RBI, 1.3%)
Whiffers o' the weak (last seven days): Nick Swisher 1B/OF (3-18, 10 K, 70.0%), Aramis Ramirez, ChC, 3B (3-29, 9 K, 99.9%), Dan Uggla, Fla, 2B (1-21, 8 K, 99.9%), JD Drew, Bos, OF (3-21, 7 K, 99.4%), Chase Utley, Phi, 2B (4-24, 6 K, 99.9%)
Inconspicuous Thieves (last seven days): Esteban German, KC, 2B/3B/OF (2-8, 2 SB, 0.11%), Kaz Matsui, Hou, 2B (5-20, 2 SB, 35.2%), Jonny Gomes, TB, OF (3-8, 2 SB, 0.33%), Willie Bloomquist, Sea, 2B/SS/3B/OF (7-22, 2 SB, 0.61%), Joe Inglett, Tor, 2B/3B/OF (5-25, 2 SB, 0.28%)
For stream conscious owners who want to push the innings-pitched envelope this is the list for you. Run support, ballpark factors, historical and recent trends, opposing offenses, opposing SPs, managerial tendencies and meteorological influences are painstakingly taken into account to give you the top double dippers of each week.
Other NL Double Dippers: Braden Looper, StL (at Atl, Phi), Doug Davis, Ari (at SD, at LAD), Micah Owings, Ari (at SD, at LAD), Ian Snell, Pit (Col, ChC), Kevin Correia, SF (at LAD, at SD), Glendon Rusch, Col (at Pit, at Fla), Colin Balester, Was (Phi, Cin)
TO CATCH A THIEF
Unrelated to the "Dateline NBC" predator stories, the "Rundown" investigates the best and worst base burglar matchups for the upcoming week. Stats reflect numbers through July 25:
FEAST OR FAMINE?
Torn between two stat-similar infielders this week? Use the pitching and hitting staff sorters below to help you decide whether or not Adam LaRoche or Scott Olsen is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through July 25:
Full slate (teams with seven games): LA Angels, Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, Florida, LA Dodgers, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New York Yankees, Seattle, St. Louis, Texas