By Andy Behrens
April 26, 2007
Roto Arcade This Week : April 23
| April 24 | April 25
It's not my mission here to discuss players who are universally owned. Yahoo! already delivers all the information on individual players that you can reasonably process, and the fantasy community doesn't need another blogger who writes things like, "Look! Eric Gagne is hurt! Just like I predicted!"
No, whenever possible we'll discuss players who are un-owned yet useful, or we'll consider some arcane bit of fantasy strategy. That's the mission. But there will be instances when we talk about players who you can't add, can't trade for, and just have to admire. When we do this, hopefully it will be timely. Like when Jake Peavy whiffs 16 Diamondbacks.
Was the strike zone a little generous last night? Yeah, maybe. But Peavy was still terrific, mixing a mid-90s fastball with biting sliders. It was almost cruel. He came within one strike of tying Tom Seaver's record for consecutive Ks. Not that the Arizona announcers were so interested. In the 4th inning, while Peavy was striking out his seventh, eighth, and ninth consecutive hitters, local KTVK news anchor Beverly Kidd visited the booth to discuss TV3's new high definition something-or-other. The broadcast took a skeevy turn. Daron Sutton began discussing Mark Grace's various longings right around the 1:05:30 mark. "That's a man," he declared of Grace at 1:06:18, shortly before Chad Tracy struck out looking.
Anyway, Peavy was phenomenal. Kidd held her own, too.
It's worth noting that Peavy also had a 16 K game last season and it seemed to ruin him for two months. After throwing 114 pitches and striking out 16 Braves on May 22, Peavy went 1-5 over his next nine starts, allowing 41 ER in 52.2 innings. He recovered in August and September, though. Peavy threw 117 pitches last night over seven innings. Still, he has just about the greatest imaginable two-start week coming up: home against Washington, then at Florida. So expect further brilliance.
Onto the bullets …
Continuing an odd theme, the last truly great game that Mark Prior pitched was a 16 K effort against Cincinnati on September 30, 2004. He threw 113 pitches in an epic 12-inning loss from which he, and arguably the Cubs, never recovered. Now Prior will miss the 2007 season following rotator cuff surgery. He clearly hasn't been right for two and a half years. Seems like maybe whatever was wrong in his shoulder could have been identified earlier, no? That doesn't seem like it's entirely Dusty Baker's fault, but rather an institutional problem. If I were Rich Hill, this would make me nervous.
An emailer suggested that I not only discuss Milwaukee shortstop J.J. Hardy, but that I use this sub-head: "Can't Hardy Wait."
Get it? It's not bad, really. I'm all for dropping Replacements references into the column, and that's maybe the greatest song ever written – the early version, not the one with the horns. But I was thinking someday I'd use this line: "DeJesus rides beside me/He never buys any smokes." So I'll have to pass. Hardy is still worth mentioning. He's only 38.9 percent owned at the moment, despite out-producing basically every shortstop so far except Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes, and Hanley Ramirez. Will Hardy continue the 40-plus HR pace? No, nobody would suggest that. But he sure looks like a safe bet to out-produce guys like Bobby Crosby (56.1 percent owned) and Jhonny Peralta (77.2 percent). Those are add/drops I'd make.
The 34.5 percent-owned Kelly Johnson is a similar case. No one expects the Atlanta second baseman to hit .308/.438/.569 all season, but, as with Hardy, there are several players at his position with greater ownership percentages who can be safely dropped. For example: Craig Biggio (60.4 percent) and Rich Aurilia (71.8). The Aurilia loyalists won't like that, but I'd much rather take a flier on the Braves' leadoff hitter. Why stick with a player who's likely to finish below league-average in fantasy terms? Adding Johnson in place of those guys involves very little risk.
In praising Roy Oswalt on Wednesday, I neglected to mention something hugely important: despite all the innings he's pitched, he's not really overworked. Oswalt was 11th in MLB in innings pitched last season (220.2), but he was only 38th in total pitches (3255). That's the stat you should care about when considering overuse.
Cleveland middle reliever Fernando Cabrera (0.3 percent owned) struck out five in two innings Wednesday night against Texas. It was the second time this season he's had five Ks in less than three innings of work. Cabrera is now 1-0 with 15 K, 3 BB, an ERA of 0.00 and a 0.66 WHIP. He's a decent candidate for late-season saves, and he's just a useful guy to own, period. Not unlike Rafael Soriano in 2003, for those who remember. Cabrera is a decent speculative add in mixed leagues.
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 Thursday, Apr 26, 2007 2:44 pm, EDT
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