June 21, 2009
This sound familiar: You take a stroll through your league's free agency pool, do a sort for the past week or month, notice some unexpected player bubble to the top of the rank list, consider adding the player, decide better of it because the player's pedigree defies his current production, then the player continues on his tear and you end up adding him a week or so later? It's happened to me at least a couple times this season in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League. I missed a nice chunk of Adam Kennedy's(notes) May explosion before I was finally convinced to extend him an offer. And, this past week, Milwaukee's Casey McGehee(notes) reminded me again of the perils of hesitation.
Had I added McGehee last week when I initially considered it, I'd have enjoyed a sweet seven-game run in which he's hit .461 (12-for-26) with two home runs (including an opposite field solo shot today against Justin Verlander(notes) on a first pitch, eye-high fastball in his first at bat), four RBIs and seven runs scored. But I was dissuaded by a past that fails to inspire upside optimism.
That said, McGehee is flexing his gap power to the tune of a 24.6 LD% this season, which would place him among the league leaders in that category if he had enough at bats to qualify. With Rickie Weeks(notes) done for the year, the utilityman is getting regular play at second base and hitting regularly in the No. 2 spot in the order, where he's been feasting (.333 BA) on a steady diet of fastballs and scoring at a near per game clip (9 runs in 10 games).
McGehee's home run off Verlander today pushed me to finally pick him up in the F&F league. It's a 14-team league where middlemen like Brendan Ryan(notes), Chris Getz(notes), Jamey Carroll(notes) and Craig Counsell(notes) have recently been, or are still currently, rostered. So long as he keeps waiting for quality pitches (his current 11.8 BB% is a considerably better mark than he has posted at any other time or professional level in the past three years) from his perch near the top of the Brewers order, there's no reason to think he can't be a viable contributor (batting average and runs) in deeper mixed league, like the F&F. I'm not going to try and make him into anything more than he is. But he's in a good situation, and he's in a groove. Sometimes, that's all you can ask for.
• As closers go, Fernando Rodney(notes) has been a bit of a bumpy ride. His ERA is north of 4.00 (4.08) and, prior to today, he'd allowed three walks in two of his past four appearances. But he mowed down the Brewers today in 1-2-3 fashion, making him a perfect 14-for-14 in save opportunities. You'll occasionally hear rumblings about how Joel Zumaya(notes) and Brandon Lyon(notes) might be moving in on his territory but, in actuality, Rodney has a pretty solid grip on the job. In his 14 save opportunities, Rodney has posted a 0.64 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 14 innings pitched. The only run he allowed in a save situation came via the only home run he has served up this season – Mike Aviles(notes) (April 26).
• It was a tough day for Yovani Gallardo(notes) and his owners. He stuff was sharp against Detroit and he was cruising through the Tigers lineup for the first 5.1 innings – 3 H, 0 ER, 6 K. But, with an out in the sixth inning, he gave up a single to Miguel Cabrera(notes), then coaxed a fly out from Marcus Thames(notes) before allowing another single by Don Kelly(notes). Then, with two outs and two on, he made one of the few mistakes of the day, floating an off-speed breaking ball right into Brandon Inge's(notes) wheelhouse – letter high and right over the heart of the plate. Inge crushed the pitch for his 16th home run of the season, giving Detroit all it would need in a 3-2 win. Justin Verlander pitched yet another gem for the Tigers (7.2 IP, 2 ER, 8 K) to pick up his eighth win, but this one was Gallardo's for the taking.
• Felix Hernandez(notes) was cruising towards his second consecutive complete game shutout when, like Gallardo, it all came to a crashing halt with one swing of the bat. But, unlike Gallardo, Hernandez didn't make a mistake pitch. Instead, in a pitcher's count with one out and one on in the eighth inning against Arizona, Hernandez threw a darting fastball low and away from Mark Reynolds(notes), who made a lunging, all-upper body stab at the pitch and sent it over the wall in deep centerfield. When you see a guy hit an improbable bomb like that, you don't doubt the legitimacy of his 19 home runs – it's no wonder he ranks among the top five in the league in average distance per home run. The streakiness (he was 0-for-16 prior to the at bat) and strikeouts will always be a part of the equation, but I'm confident that it will also come with 35-40 home runs this season, as well.
• The most notable injury of the day belongs to New York's CC Sabathia(notes), who left his outing against Florida after allowing three hits, a walk and a run in 1.1 innings. He was, reportedly, experiencing tightness in his left biceps. Obviously, we'll learn in the next few days whether this is something to be worried about.
• The shakiest save of the day goes to Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom(notes), who gave back two runs to the Yankees in the top of the ninth to shrink the Marlins' lead from 6-3 to 6-5. Lindstrom allowed three hits and a walk, marking the ninth time this season he has allowed at least three base runners in an inning of work or less. As rocky of a road as it's been for Lindstrom, though, he deserves credit for running his saves streak to 11 straight without a blown opportunity.
• Just when Khalil Greene(notes) was starting to feel good following a 19-game hiatus because of social anxiety disorder – he hit a home run for the third consecutive game on Sunday – he got plunked on the right knee by a pitch from Kansas City's Gil Meche(notes) in the fourth inning and had to leave the game. Stay tuned for news on the severity of the injury. If it's minor, then you can start considering that three-game home run streak from a guy who hit 27 home runs just a couple seasons ago.
• Welcome to the Land of Milk and Honey, Randy Wells(notes). Prior to today's start, Wells ranked just 138th in run support (4.41) among those pitchers that have logged 40-plus innings this season. But the Cubs finally staked him to a comfortable lead against Cleveland on Sunday, scoring six runs in the first five innings while Wells methodically shut down the Indians, allowing two runs in 6.2 IP. The effort was good for his first win as a major leaguer. But, with nine starts at a 2.57 ERA clip, including six quality starts in his past seven outings, it's fair to say that that first victory should have come a while ago.
• Mark Buehrle(notes) is now 19-6 in interleague play after shutting out Cincinnati for seven innings on Sunday. The guy doesn't strike many hitters out, he gives up a ton of hits and a fair share of long balls, but he's basically the major league equivalent of a tide table when it comes to his predictable 12-16 win, mid-3.00 ERA seasonal outputs. I'm as guilty as anyone for not giving him the credit he deserves.
• The combined five runs in the San Diego/Oakland game (the Padres prevailed by a score of 4-1) was fairly predictable considering that it pitted the two worst offensive teams in the league – both sport team batting averages below .240. On this day, the A's made journeyman Kevin Correia(notes) look like Kevin Brown. Actually, Correia has been looking rather Brown-esque over his past four outings – 3-1, 26.2 IP, 13 H, 2.02 ERA, 2 BB, 20 K. Both manager Bud Black and Oakland's Orlando Cabrera(notes) seemed to agree on the reason for Correia's success on Sunday. Said Black, "He’s finding the strike zone with good pitches. The walks are down; the hits are down … " Cabrera expressed the same sentiment: "He was really tough to hit. He was throwing it on the corners and he was able to get ahead in the count and make pitches." Correia's next start comes at Texas, so you probably want to hold off on a trip to the waiver wire right now and see how things shake out in Arlington.
• Houston's Jose Valverde(notes) picked up a seamless save against Minnesota, making him a perfect three-for-three in save chances since his return from a calf strain a week ago. Houston is using him in a manner that suggests health is no longer even a question, as he's pitched six times in the past nine days, allowing a mere three hits, no runs and no walks (compared to seven strikeouts) in 5.1 IP in that span.
• Ricky Romero(notes) was a ground-ball factory against Washington, inducing 12 ground outs compared to three fly outs – he also swatted away six Nats by way of the K. In picking up his fourth victory of the season with two runs allowed in seven innings, the rookie now has seven quality starts in nine outings. As mentioned, he's inducing grounders (his GB% of better than 50 percent is one of the better marks among starters) and his K/9 of 7.4 plays very nicely for fantasy purposes.
• Troy Tulowitzki(notes) starting to turn things around at the plate at this time of year following an early season slump/injury is nothing new, but the fervor he's showing on the base paths currently is unprecedented, and probably ill advised. He's already attempted to steal a base seven times in June, which are easily the most attempts for a month in his career. He picked up his sixth caught stealing of the season today compared to nine successful attempts, and he's barely above a 50/50 proposition for his career (20 steals in 38 career attempts). After going 3-for-3 at the plate today in Colorado's 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh, Tulo is now hitting .409 in his past 14 games with five home runs, 11 RBIs, 13 R and five stolen bases. He should easily finish north of 20 home runs, but the increased aggressiveness on the bases is lending credence to the idea that he can join the 20/20 club this season, assuming manager Jim Tracy continues to ignore Tulo's success (or lack thereof) rate on the bases.
• Chris Davis(notes) struck out today. Obviously, this is nothing new. He's on a record-setting pace in that department, as he now has 101 whiffs for the year. And ESPN's Baseball Tonight pulled out the fact that he is the fastest man to reach the 100-K mark in MLB history. I keep hearing there'll be no (Justin) Smoak without a fire. But a record-setting pace for strikeouts and a .194 batting average 68 games into the season looks like an inferno to me.
Other must-mentions to avoid the ire of the commenters: Albert Pujols(notes) (4-for-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R); B.J. Upton(notes) (4-for-6, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R); Lyle Overbay(notes) (3-for-5, HR, 5 RBI, R); Clint Barmes(notes) (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R); Evan Longoria(notes) (4-for-5, RBI, R); Chris Coghlan(notes) (3-for-4, 3 R); Jose Guillen(notes) (2-for-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R); Wandy Rodriguez(notes) (W, 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 8 K); Barry Zito(notes) (W, 7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 8 K)
Alright, I'll turn things over to you now. But before I do that, I just want to wish all the dads out there a happy conclusion to Father's Day, whatever that may consist of …