By Andy Behrens
April 24, 2007
Roto Arcade This Week : April 23
Now that the Yankees have decided to promote baseball's top pitching prospect, Philip Hughes, fantasy experts are going to behave like CNN reporters covering the disappearance of a really hot chick. This news item is all we're likely to talk about for a few days. Doesn't matter what else is going on in the world. We have pictures! Wooo!
It's prospect porn, basically. Let's get to it … Wakka chikka wakka chikka …
You might recall that the 20-year-old Hughes has been compared, somewhat absurdly, to Roger Clemens, based entirely on a batting practice he threw in February 2006. He was utterly dominant in 116 innings for Double-A Trenton last season, going 10-3 with a 2.25 ERA and 138 K. He allowed only 73 hits and 32 walks. Find me another pitcher in the high minors whose walks and hits combined were so much lower than his strikeout total. This season Hughes is 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He had a lousy outing against Richmond on April 12, giving up seven hits and five earned runs over five innings. Hughes was nearly untouchable in his next start, though, striking out 10 and allowing two hits and no walks in six innings against Syracuse.
On Thursday, Hughes will oppose Josh Towers and the Blue Jays. Toronto isn't the easiest lineup to contend with, but the Yankees should provide ample run support. They scored eight runs in 6.1 innings against Towers last year. Joe Torre told the Yankees website that the team would take it "a start at a time" with Hughes, which suggests that Hughes will stay if he earns it. Mike Mussina (hamstring) and Carl Pavano (elbow) are injured, Kei Igawa (7.84 ERA, 1.60 WHIP) hasn't impressed, and the real Roger Clemens apparently still hasn't decided when to decide about deciding anything. So there's clearly an opportunity for Hughes.
Yes, he's worth waiver priority in a mixed league. No, I can't guarantee that he'll be this year's Jered Weaver – to me, Tim Lincecum still seems likely to be that guy. But Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo is the only other pitching prospect not yet in the Yahoo! player pool who projects to be anything like Hughes. And Hughes arrives first, so go get him when he hits waivers. Just so you know, I don't control the waiver process or the player pool in your league. If you ask me when Hughes is going to be added, I'm going to lie to you. You'll get a response like the one I just sent to some dude in Baltimore named Ethan:
"Hughes will be added Wednesday at precisely 3:51 a.m. ET. Make sure you're awake and refreshing your browser constantly."
If your league doesn't have a waiver process, good luck. If it does, please remain calm. Most of you will actually miss out on Hughes, so this is a decent time to consider the alternatives. And yes, there are alternatives.
Like the oft-mentioned Lincecum. You'll notice that pretty much every "News & Notes" item on his Yahoo! player page is a Roto Arcade piece. Sorry for the clutter. Lincecum is now 3-0 with an ERA of 0.36 and 32 K in Triple-A, and he no-hit Tucson through 6.1 innings on Monday. It wasn't quite as pretty as his earlier starts – he uncharacteristically walked six, hit a batter, and threw a wild pitch – but he was literally unhittable. His call-up date might be tied to his arbitration clock. If I were a Giants fan, this would be endlessly frustrating. Still, Lincecum should arrive in time to have a meaningful fantasy impact and deliver lots of Ks.
Yovani Gallardo has been a bit better than Hughes thus far. He's 2-1 at Triple-A Nashville with a 2.65 ERA and 26 K in 17 innings. He's walked only four batters and allowed 13 hits. Homer Bailey has been used like a guy that the Reds intend to bring up. He hasn't gone more than 5.1 innings in any of his starts for Triple-A Louisville. He's 1-0 with a 1.76 ERA, 11 K, and 8 BB. Angel Guzman is worth a speculative add in NL-only leagues right now. Wade Miller was placed on the DL – allegedly due to back spasms, but more likely due to being hittable and awful – and Guzman should get a shot another shot in the starting rotation. He's been terrific in low-pressure relief situations for Chicago this year, walking only one batter in 7.1 innings while striking out eight. He was hitting 96-97 mph on the Wrigley Field radar gun, too.
For those interested, I've made a trade in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League, and I'm giving up the best player involved in the deal, Roy Oswalt. One of the pieces I'm receiving in return is an injured middle infielder, Chone Figgins. So I've got that market cornered. The other guy I'm receiving in the deal is Justin Verlander, who's not likely to sustain the terrific ratios that he's managed so far (2.08 ERA, 1.04 WHIP). Take a day to digest this. Tomorrow, we'll discuss the trade, its likely impact on my team, and some Moneyball wisdom: "The important thing is to recreate the aggregate."
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007 2:14 pm, EDT
Email to a Friend | View Popular