By Brad Evans
July 15, 2007
Oh, Sheets. On Saturday, Milwaukee ace Ben Sheets suffered a sprained middle finger on his pitching hand. After the game, Sheets sounded cautiously optimistic that the injury would not sideline him for an extended period and was hopeful he could make his next start July 19 versus Arizona. X-rays were negative, but if the pain persists into Monday an MRI will be performed. Yovani Gallardo (23.3 percent owned), aka El Chupacabra, pitched 4.2 brilliant innings (0 ER, 1 H, 4:0 K:BB) in relief of Sheets. If Sheets were to miss a start, Gallardo would fill the void. The 21-year-old Mexican marvel has dazzled this season with a 2.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 in 28.2 IP. Shockingly still available in over three-fourths of Yahoo! leagues, Gallardo, a superior source of ERA, WHIP and K numbers in long relief, must be owned in all 12-team formats even if Sheets isn't forced out of action. The odds of St. Louis repeating as World Series champs just got longer. On Friday, Cards ace Chris Carpenter suffered a significant setback in his recovery from elbow surgery after he experienced renewed stiffness and swelling after a 39-pitch rehab appearance for High-A Palm Beach. Carpenter was slated to return to the St. Louis rotation in late July, but, obviously, his return date is now shrouded in uncertainty. Team doctors have expressed concerns about Carpenter's arthritic condition in his elbow, which could potentially sideline him for the remainder of the season. For those optimistic Carp owners who have him stashed on the DL, the forecast sounds gloomy. Cut ties with him and scour the wire for Yankees super prospect Phil Hughes (9.1 percent owned), who is expected back July 23 versus Kansas City, as a DL slot replacement.
With Moises Alou, Endy Chavez and Carlos Gomez disabled, top Mets prospect Lastings Milledge (0.34 percent owned), promoted from Double-A Binghamton on Friday, will play everyday in left for the next couple of weeks. In his first three games, the scrappy 22 year-old has collected three hits, a homer and two RBI. Equipped with a lightning-quick bat, above-average speed and plus-power, the free-swinging Milledge, in statistical speak, is an unpolished version of Vernon Wells. Although he's slapped a .303 career average in the minors, Milledge is a reckless swinger who's tallied a 22.7 K% in 181 big league at-bats. Owners in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues (14-team and greater) in search of a short-term outfield sparkplug should give the youngster an audition.
Since the Rangers are an insurmountable 17 games back in the AL West, rumors have begun to swirl that along with Kenny Lofton and Mark Teixeira, slammin' Sammy Sosa is being shopped, possibly to the Yankees or Twins. Although he's hit a paltry .241, the 38-year-old Sosa has blasted 14 homers and driven in 63 RBI this season. The Twins inadequate throng of designated hitters – Mike Redmond, Jason Kubel, Jason Tyner, Garrett Jones and Jeff Cirillo – has yielded three homers and 38 RBI in 81 games, which would make Sosa an excellent fit. Likely sandwiched in between Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter, Sosa's chances of reaching 30-plus homers would improve dramatically. Meanwhile, in Texas, Sosa's potential departure would finally open the door for Jason Botts to receive regular at-bats. The switch-hitting 6-foot-5, 250-pound Botts has monstrous power and has improved his patience at the plate this season (16.2 BB% at Triple-A). In 334 at-bats at Oklahoma City, Botts has tallied a .320 BA with 13 homers and 71 RBI. Botts (0.02 percent owned) is an older prospect (27) with big league experience (77 career at-bats), who's one to watch in the second-half for those looking for an outfield power boost.
Fragile Oakland stopper Huston Street, out since May 13 with ulnar nerve irritation, is scheduled to throw to hitters on Monday and plans to begin a rehab assignment later this week. If his assignment goes smoothly, he could return to end-game duty on July 20. Street, a top-flight injury buy low candidate, has commanded Chad Billingsley, Kenny Rogers and J.J. Hardy in recent Plus league solo trades. Barring a setback, he should be good for 11-14 saves over the remainder of the season.
Hidden lumberjacks (Last 7 days): Pat Burrell, Phi, OF (4-9, HR, 6 RBI, 48.9%), Jose Guillen, Sea, OF (7-15, HR, 2 RBI, 18.2%), Andre Ethier, LAD, OF (7-12, HR, 6 RBI, 3.8%), Billy Butler, KC, OF/DH (6-11, 2 RBI, 0.53% owned), Kevin Kouzmanoff, SD, 3B (5-11, HR, 2 RBI, 0.79%)
Whiffers o' the weak (Last 7 days): Jack Cust, Oak, OF (1-12, 7 K, 27.0% owned), Garrett Atkins, Col, 3B (1-12, 5 K, 97.4%), Casey Blake, Cle, 1B/3B/OF (1-14, 5 K, 87.0%), Magglio Ordonez, Det, OF (1-11, 5 K, 100%), Raul Ibanez, Sea, OF (2-17, 4 K, 73.2%)
Inconspicuous thieves (Last 7 days): Julio Lugo, Bos, 2B/3B/SS (9-15, 3 SB, 72.2% owned), Edwin Encarnacion, Cin, 3B (0-9, 2 SB, 7.6%), Jerry Owens, ChW, OF (4-15, 2 SB, 0.04%), Esteban German, KC, 2B/3B/OF (3-8, 2 SB, 0.79%)
This Week's Two-Start Pitchers
Remaining NL Two-Start Pitchers: Braden Looper (at Fla, at Atl), Woody Williams (at Was, at Pit), Jorge Sosa (at SD, at LAD), Kyle Davies (Cin, StL), Brad Thompson (at Fla, at Atl), Yusmeiro Petit (at Mil, at ChC), Taylor Buchholz (at Pit, at Was), John Van Benschoten (Col, Hou), Mike Bacsik (Hou, Col), J.D. Durbin (at LAD, at SD), Tim Redding (Hou, Col)
To Catch a Thief
AL Steals Shopping: Corey Patterson, Bal, OF (50.0% owned), Joey Gathright, KC, OF (0.25%), Jerry Owens, ChW, OF (0.04%)
NL Steals Shopping: Edwin Encarnacion, Cin, 3B (7.6% owned), Lastings Milledge, OF, NYM (0.31%), Michael Bourn, Phi, OF (0.24%)
Feast or Famine?
Brad "The Big Noise" Evans has obsessed about his fantasy teams since the days when Jeff George had value. Yahoo! Sports fantasy’s resident baseball, football and bracketology expert, Brad also lends advice on the two-time Emmy-nominated webcast "Fantasy Football Live" each NFL Sunday.
Updated on Sunday, Jul 15, 2007 8:50 pm, EDT