By Andy Behrens
May 1, 2007
Roto Arcade This Week : April 30
Cliff Lee returns to Cleveland's rotation on Thursday against the Blue Jays. Some of you might be wondering what to do with this information.
Lee was part of the AL Cy Young debate in 2005, going 18-5 with a 3.79 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 143 strikeouts for a 93-win team. Last year, however, the left-hander's K/9 declined from 6.37 to 5.79 while his fantasy ratios increased – he posted a 4.40 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. In nearly the same number of innings, Lee yielded 30 more hits and his HR-allowed increased from 22 to 29. He was also far less efficient, throwing 266 more pitches. Basically, for those of us who drafted him in 2006, Lee was a significant disappointment.
But one of my fantasy weaknesses is to repeatedly acquire players who've helped me in the past. We call this behavior "Type-1 Scott Mitchell Simplex." I've added Lee in one league so far, and I'm eyeing him in another. He's currently 42.4 percent owned, so there's a fair chance you're considering Lee somewhere, too. If you're waiting for a specific reason to add him, think about this: Cliff Lee has a new pitch in his arsenal.
No, it's not any sort of gyro-thing. It's just a slider. But it's a promising development, and it tells us something about Lee's intent to improve. He's told the Indians' website, "A lot of the time guys were sitting on my fastball and curve, so I think this pitch will help me." It's worth adding him just in case it does. Nearly all of us own at least one starting pitcher we can safely fire.
Lee is DL-eligible at the moment, so this might be the move: drop John Patterson (42.9 percent owned) or someone of his ilk, add Cliff Lee, stash him on your DL, then use the empty roster spot to add another player. Maybe one of tomorrow's probable starters, like Oliver Perez (27.8 percent) or Anthony Reyes (5.4). Then on Wednesday you can activate Lee, dropping whoever. Or you can leave him safely on the DL and put in a waiver claim on Hunter Pence. The point is, you have options, and Lee can still be placed on your DL for a few more days. He's certainly roster-worthy.
I find it increasingly difficult to make a case for owning Jason Schmidt these days, however. If you can package him in a trade for something especially useful, do it. The next encouraging report I hear about Schmidt will be the first. He hasn't been given permission to throw yet. Bill Shaikin wrote a piece for the Sunday Los Angeles Times that detailed Schmidt's decline in velocity last season: in June, only 1.4 percent of Schmidt's fastballs were below 90 mph; in September, the percentage was 24.1. His injury has been called "bursitis," an affliction that dogged every elderly character in 1970s sit-coms. If that's really his problem, expect continued inactivity.
If you're a Yankees employee, the scythe is basically always overhead. New York ended April by losing eight of nine and if the losses continue to pile up, someone(s) will certainly pay with their job(s). Phil Hughes' outing at Texas Tuesday night seems unreasonably important. The rookie probably doesn't want to be responsible for the loss that ends the Joe Torre era. Anything less than a quality start could jeopardize Hughes' spot on the Yankees' roster, too. I plan to keep him in my 14-team mixed league even if he's mauled on Tuesday. He cost me waiver priority, we have a relatively deep bench, and Hughes' talent is real.
Ryan Church has stolen bases in consecutive games, and he now has three steals this season. He's hitting a more-than-respectable .284/.394/.500 and, oddly, he's on a 20/20 pace. Yes, it's very early. But last year in limited playing time, he stole six bases in seven attempts. Church is only 17.3 percent owned at the moment. He's a fair add as an injury replacement, and he should be starting for someone in NL-only leagues.
Two more NL outfielders to consider: Carlos Quentin (6.2 percent owned) and Chris B. Young (8.2) of the Diamondbacks. These guys went from late-round draft sleepers to discarded afterthoughts rather quickly, as both got off to slow starts. Quentin went 2-for-3 Monday night and added three walks. He also scored twice. Young was even better. He led off the game with a home run off Randy Wolf – so much for his two-start week – then added another in the seventh off Rudy Seanez. Young's power/speed combination makes him a slightly better add in standard 5x5 leagues. Quentin is the better bet in OBP/SLG 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 Tuesday, May 1, 2007 6:42 pm, EDT
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