By Andy Behrens
May 31, 2007
Roto Arcade This Week : May 29
| May 30
It shouldn't surprise you to hear that I'm heavily invested in Tim Lincecum. He was mentioned in something like nine out of every ten columns during April – and in that tenth column we used subliminal tactics. Images of Russ Ortiz giving up line drives were embedded in banner ads, the first letter of each sentence spelled out "F-R-E-S-N-O G-R-I-Z-Z-L-I-E-S" … that sort of thing.
Lincecum has obviously worked out just fine. In five starts, he has as many Ks as hits and walks combined (33) and he's posted terrific ratios (3.24 ERA, 0.99 WHIP). He hit 99 mph in Tuesday's duel with Oliver Perez in New York, and he entered the week owned in over 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
So what's not to like?
Well, these pitch counts have become a little troubling. No manager has gone deeper into games with his starters than Bruce Bochy. In Lincecum's second major league appearance, he threw 112 pitches against Colorado. He reached 113 pitches against the Mets. So far this season, the 22-year-old has averaged 105.2 pitches per start for San Francisco, and he's reached 100 or more in four of five games. It's not like Lincecum's usage was terribly limited at Fresno, either. He went at least six innings in four of five Triple-A starts. It's been a steady dose of high-90s fastballs and big-breaking curves, too. In 22 NCAA appearances and eight Single-A starts last year, Lincecum pitched a total of 157 innings. This year he's on a pace that will get him very close to 200 IP.
Yeah, I realize that part of the legend of Tim Lincecum is that he does not tire, he does not sleep, and he does not know pain. He has freakish healing powers and his bones are coated with adamantium. Or at least he rarely has to ice his arm. So I'm not saying he's going to break. But if the Giants continue to flounder in the standings – currently they're 25-26 and 5.5 games back in the NL West – they'd be crazy to let these 110-plus pitch count games continue into September. For that reason, there will probably come a time when Lincecum is the perfect sell-high candidate in non-keeper leagues. His value is extremely high at the moment, so I'd listen to offers. But I wouldn't aggressively shop him – not yet. He could be an excellent late-July trade chip, however.
And no, a month ago I really didn't think I'd be considering Tim Lincecum's trade value anytime soon.
Phil Hughes is no risk to reach 200 innings pitched, that's for sure. An ankle sprain will sideline him for at least four more weeks. Still I feel compelled to recommend him. Stash him on your DL. He's only owned in 18.9 percent of Yahoo! leagues. It's clear he'll start for the Yankees when he returns, and that six K no-hit bid against the Rangers should've answered any questions about his readiness.
Here's a phrase that appears with surprising frequency in email from readers: "Closers are extremely important in my league." I see that comment at least once per week. Usually it prefaces a question about a Brian Fuentes trade for whatever reason. But that's not my point. Here's what I'd really like to know, and what no one ever explains: How can closers be "extremely" important in your league?
In a 4x4 configuration, great closers are fairly valuable since the odd-category-out is often Ks, not saves. But in a 12-team mixed 5x5 league – and that's what most of these emailers seem to be involved in – there are clearly enough closers to go around. Thirty MLB teams, 12 fantasy teams. Even if one owner in your league stockpiled closers, there should still be enough of them remaining for everyone to own two. Is the issue some odd, custom lineup configuration? No one ever tells me why closers are so unusually precious. I suspect it's sometimes a misconception brought about by the draft habits of a small number of league participants.
The only league in which I felt obligated to draft saves in the first five rounds was a 12-team AL-only league – and even there I didn't really need to do it. After the draft I added Al Reyes and Joakim Soria from the free agent pool. The guy I drafted early? Mariano Rivera. He has four saves. Soria has 10. Reyes has 13.
Despite a .335 batting average and seven seasons with 20 or more stolen bases, 31-year-old Luis Castillo is only 19.0 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues. That seems light. He rested Wednesday due to "leg soreness," but he's expected to return Friday. The list of second basemen owned in more leagues than Castillo is an ugly thing. It includes Craig Biggio (.230 AVG, 3 HR, 2 SB), Rich Aurilia (.242 AVG, 2 HR, 0 SB), Mark DeRosa (.250, 5 HR, 0 SB), and Jorge Cantu (.267, 0 HR, 0 SB).
Can't help but notice that you haven't updated your MLBlog in a few months, Jorge.
Jon Lester threw five shutout innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, striking out six. He's only 3.1 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues and, like Hughes, he's DL-eligible.
Two White Sox minor league names to remember: Josh Fields and Gio Gonzalez. The 24-year-old Fields is a third base prospect hitting .271/.387/.479 with nine HR and six SB for Triple-A Charlotte. He binged from May 20 to May 26, going 12-for-22 with nine runs, two homers, seven RBI, and three steals. Gonzalez is a 21-year-old left-handed pitcher with Double-A Birmingham. He has 82 Ks in only 59.2 innings and an ERA of 3.17. Gonzalez was reacquired by the White Sox in the Freddy Garcia-Gavin Floyd offseason trade.
Minnesota's Kevin Slowey (0.1 percent owned) might be the most interesting of Friday's stream-worthy starters. There are other useful pick-ups, though. Adam Wainwright (52.5 percent) at Houston – they've lost 10 in a row – and Fausto Carmona (67.4) versus Detroit are reasonable adds.
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, May 31, 2007 3:47 pm, EDT
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