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.
On Friday, the 24-year-old former super prospect was surprisingly optioned to Double-A Mississippi, likely for three weeks. With just 4 hits in his past 41 at-bats and eight long-balls in 334 plate appearances, the Atlanta front office decided to take drastic measures to spark Francool's dormant stick. Disappointed but accepting of the demotion, Francoeur told the Atlanta Journal Constitution July 4:
"My game plan is, if they have the confidence in me, which I hope they do, is to come back and start that Friday night after the All-Star break and get going and have a huge second half. Because I know I can."
As to why he was ousted, Atlanta GM Frank Wren gave the following response, presumably from an office filled with leather couches and desktop pendulums:
"The best thing for him was to get out of the pressure of the day-to-day major-league schedule and what all that means and get back to where he can relax and get his swing going again. It just was not happening at this level. It doesn't matter if it's Francoeur or Chipper Jones or Brandon Jones or whoever it may be. When you struggle, the best approach is 'simplify to rectify.' The human brain works in mysterious ways and sometimes the reality of things is not what's always going on in the brain. The quicker you can simplify things, the quicker guys can rebound."
For now, the 78.9 percent owned Francoeur is expendable in shallow mixed leagues. But for patient owners with bench space, he's worth stashing. Despite a downturn in HR/FB% for the fourth consecutive season, his attractive 20.8 LD% and improved strikeout ('07 K%: 20.1, '08: 18.6) and contact rates ('07 CT%: 73.9, '08: 76.6) are positive indicators that his bat could resuscitate once his confidence is renewed.
In his first game with the Southern League Braves he slapped two singles and had a line-drive laser down the left-field line, originally called a home run, overturned.
• Stupefied Colorado infielder Troy Tulowitzki entered the pantheon of disabled idiots Saturday, placed on the 15-day DL with a severe hand laceration. Per the Denver Post, here's how the injury occurred:
Tulowitzki pounded a bat down into the ground after coming out of Friday's game. It broke and sliced his palm, requiring medical attention. The injury is to his palm, not his thumb, as previously reported by other media outlets. His frustration was not directed at manager Clint Hurdle for the move, but was rather than just an emotional reaction in the moment.
The maligned shortstop's setback can be found alongside Steve Sparks' phone book bungle, Oliver Perez's laundry cart Pele and Milton Bradley's ACL-tearing tussle with umpire Mike Winters, in the encyclopedia of dumb self-inflicted injuries.
The absences of Tu-blow and Todd Helton entrenches Jeff Baker's role as an everyday player for at least the next two weeks. The 90-percent available Swiss Army Knife (1B, 2B, OF eligible) has performed admirably when given opportunities. Since June 1 he's blasted six homers, driven in 19 and scored 18 runs in 82 at-bats. Owners in 12-team mixed leagues searching for power at MI should employ Baker immediately.
• Over the past 48 hours, C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee rumors have exploded like Fourth of July fireworks over Lake Erie. Brewers GM Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Friday talks between the two sides are ongoing:
"Cleveland is in control of this, not us," said Melvin, who wouldn't reveal the names of players he has on the table. "They told us they're talking to other clubs, too. You never know how these things are going to work out.
"I've talked to Cleveland. We've discussed players. They're trying to make the best deal they can. At least we've got players they're willing to discuss. But I don't anticipate anything happening in the next couple of days."
Specific player names involved remain anonymous but those close to the situation speculate mouthwatering prospect Matt LaPorta is being prominently discussed. If the Brewers top offensive minor leaguer was shipped to Cleveland, he would instantly become fantasy relevant in deeper mixed and AL/NL-only leagues (Edit: Depending on your league rules he could qualify in both).
In 299 at-bats with Double-A Huntsville the 23-year-old right fielder has racked a .291 BA with 20 homers and 66 RBIs. His mammoth muscle and sharpened eye ('07 BB%: 7.4%, '08: 12.7) are dramatically better than Shin-Soo Choo and Franklin Gutierrez, Cleveland's current right field platoon. Only Tampa's David Price and LaPorta's Huntsville teammate Mat Gamel would be worth hoarding a top waiver priority over the young slugger.
• Prominent names to bench: Todd Helton (back), Roy Oswalt (hip), Bobby Crosby (hamstring), Johnny Damon (shoulder)
Hidden lumberjacks (last 7 days): Rich Aurillia, SF, 1B/2B/SS/3B (6-22, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 1.8% owned), Chris Ianetta, Col, C (6-18, HR, 8 RBI, 3.7%), Cody Ross, Fla, OF (13-30, 8 RBI, 2.3%), Chris Duncan, StL, 1B/OF (7-23, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4.5%), Ryan Spilborghs, Col, OF (7-22, 2 HR, 6 RBI, SB, 0.82%)
Whiffers o' the weak (last 7 days): Matt Kemp, LAD, OF (4-23, 12 K, 96.5%), Brad Hawpe, Col, OF (2-23, 12 K, 60.9%), Kosuke Fukudome, ChC, OF (5-29, 11 K, 98.2%), Carlos Beltran, NYM, OF (2-24, 11 K,100%), Jeremy Hermida, Fla, OF (4-24, 8 K, 49.8%)
Inconspicuous thieves (last 7 days): Mark Ellis, Oak, 2B (7-26, 5 SB, 16.7%), Randy Winn, SF, OF (5-25, 4 SB, 39.2%), Skip Schumaker, StL, OF (7-25, 2 SB, 19.6%), Jason Kendall, Mil, C (8-23, 2 SB, 13.3%)
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 AL Double Dippers: Sidney Ponson, NYY (TB, at Tor), Scott Feldman, Tex (LAA, ChW), Carlos Silva, Sea (at Oak, at KC), Eddie Bonine, Det (Cle, Min), Luis Mendoza, Tex (LAA, ChW), Kyle Davies, KC (ChW, Sea)
Other NL Double Dippers: Ubaldo Jimenez, Col (at Mil, at NYM), Joel Pineiro, StL (at Phi, at Pit), Adam Eaton, Phi (NYM, Ari), Kevin Correia, SF (at NYM, at ChC), Runelvys Hernandez, Hou (at Pit, at Was), Phil Dumatrait, Pit (Hou, StL), Mark Redman, Col (at Mil, NYM)
*Players highlighted in orange are this week's Big Noise Shocker Specials
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 4:
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 4:
Full Slate (teams with 7 games): LA Angels, Colorado, Florida, Kansas City, LA Dodgers, Milwaukee, Minnesota, NY Mets, Oakland, Philadelphia, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Texas