Joy of six (USAT)
There's been a give-and-take with the Colorado Rockies in recent years, a gift and a curse for fantasy owners. Coors Field is the biggest offensive giveaway in baseball history, but it hasn't been easy to get value from the Colorado support players. Managers Clint Hurdle and Jim Tracy were inveterate lineup jockeys – Colorado scribe Gene McCaffrey once said Tracy "couldn't wait to get his best lineup off the field" – and Walter Weiss followed in those footsteps last year. Keep juggling, jugglers.
Preamble set, let's meet up in the outfield. Can anyone take this center field job and run with it?
Charlie Blackmon threw his hat into the ring during Friday's Coors Field opener, cranking out six hits in a 12-2 romp over Arizona. These weren't a bunch of dead quails landing just past the infield - Blackmon cranked a homer (a no-doubter) and had three doubles for the day (okay, one of them a partial gift from Mark Trumbo). Blackmon scored four runs and drove in five, using the entire ballpark in the process. Here's some Blackmon video for your Saturday brunch.
No manager is going to immediately sit a player after that sort of performance, but it will be interesting to see just how long Blackmon sticks in the lineup. Consider the center field pattern for the first five Colorado games: Blackmon started Games 1, 3 and 5; Drew Stubbs got the call in Game 2; Corey Dickerson went for Game 4. Don't get behind Weiss in the local donut shop.
Blackmon was a trendy waiver add through the overnight, but fantasy owners aren't going crazy with the theme. He's still available in 94 percent of Yahoo leagues. Blackmon's not the best defender in the center field mix, and although he batted .309 in last year's 82-game trial, it came with a modest amount of category juice (six homers, seven steals). Blackmon was Hack Man during his MLB work last year (49 strikeouts, seven walks), though he had a much different profile in Triple-A (41:35 ratio with just 13 additional at-bats). He's an interesting player, sure, but a player with fleas.
I'm willing to kick the tires on Blackmon mostly because of the Coors Effect. And while Stubbs and Dickerson have some arguments in their corner, neither player is working with a gigantic upside. No one here qualifies as Cargo 2, Electric Boogaloo; Blackmon and Dickerson are mostly trying to prove they're not Quad-A players. Bottom line, the Rockies have five more Colorado games on the current homestand – let's give Blackmon a trial and see what he does with it.
The 2014 schedule is kind when it comes to batches of Colorado games. The Rockies have just one home stretch that's limited to three games; every other Coors Field junket covers at least two opponents. Keep this in mind when you're working the schedule, and be aware of upcoming opponents. The White Sox get the Colorado call starting on Monday (though they also lose the DH over that period).
• The Mets finally got into the winning column Friday, trimming the Reds, 4-3. It was a waiver-wire special all the way, as three specific New Yorkers made cases for immediate addition.
Lucas Duda offered the loudest audition, cranking a couple of homers to account for all the Mets scoring. Duda was named the team's starting first basemen earlier in the day (no one will miss Ike Davis), and while he's had a dodgy average for a couple of years, he did pound 30 homers over his past 719 at-bats. If you want a Duda season of quality (without any qualifiers), go back to the work he did in 2011: .292/.370/.482, with 10 jacks and 50 RBIs over 301 at-bats. Power's hard to find in 2014, so get to work. Duda's owned in just two percent of Yahoo leagues.
Jenrry Mejia caught our eye with a new slider last summer (27 strikeouts in 27.1 innings), and he had his good stuff Friday (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 8 K). Pretty pictures, coming right up. He's working in the right division and home park, and next week's trip to Atlanta doesn't look too threatening (the Upton brothers were born in an 0-and-2 count). The Mejia move is available in 94 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Jose Valverde forces us to ask the existential question of fantasy – can any old rag arm do respectable work as a push-button ninth-inning closer? Valverde made a ninth-inning mess (two baserunners) before settling in, retiring Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Exhale, Mets fans, everyone shake hands. With Bobby Parnell in limbo (he's 50-50 to need surgery) and no obvious contender on the horizon, Valverde might have a path to 20 or more saves (and countless over-celebrations along the way; no one enjoys his success more than Papa Grande). Valverde remains unclaimed freight in about half of Yahoo leagues.
• Here's the highlight of Billy Hamilton's season: he walked once. Other than that, it's been a horror show.
Hamilton lugged his 0-for-12 line (and six strikeouts) to the bench Friday, getting a mental rest as much as anything. He entered the game late and had a rare failing on the bases, getting thrown out for just the second time in his brief career (against 13 swipes). And to extend the cruel joke, Hamilton jammed a finger in the process and had to be scratched from Saturday's lineup.
Roger Bernadina is unlikely to take the job and run with it, so we'll try to be patient with Hamilton – pending a further finger examination, of course. We're not even a week into the dance.
Speed Round: Maybe it's the thumb and maybe it's not; anyways, Ryan Braun went 0-for-5 in the victory at Boston . . . Nick Castellanos is raking through the opening week, but he's also given away two outs with baserunning blunders (he ran through an obvious stop-sign Friday, then was picked off before he could recover). Related or not, he's getting a day off Saturday . . . Not that you wanted Mark Teixeira to begin with, but a hamstring injury pushed him to the DL. Kelly Johnson might need to play some first in the meantime, which could slide Yangervis Solarte into regular work at third . . . Matt Kemp had a double homer and walk in his return to action, while late-arriving Yasiel Puig was benched for the day . . . Casey McGehee is having himself a week, grabbing 10 RBIs through the opening five days. Japan's loss, America's gain . . . The Mets, Nationals and Cardinals are the only teams without a stolen base; New York doesn't even have an attempt yet. The Dodgers led the majors in bags (eight) and attempts (nine).
- Sports & Recreation
- Colorado Rockies
- Coors Field
- Charlie Blackmon
- Corey Dickerson
- Walter Weiss