The Red Sox are still trying to find answers in their bullpen, the Cubs are potentially losing their shortstop again and some youngsters are looking to make their mark in place of injured fantasy heroes.
All of this and many other topics are on my radar in Fantasy Baseball This Week .
- Milton Bradley certainly stirred the pot by going against manager Jim Tracy's wishes and taking his issue with Jeff Kent public. Lost in the firestorm created by his word is the fact that Bradley reportedly has a tear in his left knee that will sideline him for the duration of the 2005 season. GM Paul DePodesta said that Bradley has an 80 percent tear of the patella tendon and problems with his left ACL as well.
- The other big story of the week was the announcement that Scott Rolen would undergo season-ending surgery. Unfortunately, owners received only 56 games from Rolen in this injury-plagued year and he generated just five homers and 28 RBIs when in the lineup.
- An MRI on Shannon Stewart's injured shoulder revealed no damage after crashing into a wall on Wednesday. He's listed as day-to-day and should be back in the lineup over the weekend.
- Mike Hampton is back on the DL for the fourth time this year. His back is to blame this time around. After his brilliant April (3-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 1.09 WHIP), Hampton has taken the hill only seven times and got beat around in his past two outings.
- Rondell White had gone to the DL with a separated shoulder, but has now learned that he's actually dealing with a torn rotator cuff. He injured it on a dive for a sinking line drive against Kansas City. White will miss the remainder of the year, so those of you in AL-only leagues, and otherwise, can safely seek out alternatives.
- A strained muscle in his side will force Rich Harden to miss a start on Thursday. Manager Ken Macha is hoping that Harden will be available over the weekend, but no determination has been made at this time.
- On Friday, the Chicago Cubs will announce whether Nomar Garciaparra and his sore back will land on the DL. He worked out ahead of Wednesday's tilt against Atlanta, but did not play.
- Pirates super rookie Zach Duke will miss his next turn with a sprained left ankle. The Pirates are optimistic that he'll be able to take the hill on Sunday, but Duke is skeptical. Due to the number of innings he's thrown this year, there had been speculation that Duke would have been shut down for the year after Tuesday's start. It now appears that he'll get at least one more trip to the mound before that occurs.
- X-Rays on Jeremy Bonderman's right wrist came back negative after he was struck with a line drive on Wednesday. Additional tests will be done and the injury will be re-evaluated on Thursday. At this time, he's not expected to miss a turn in the rotation.
- Juan Encarnacion hasn't played since Saturday and received a cortisone shot for his wrist to help him get back on the field. Barring a setback, Encarnacion should be back in the lineup over the weekend.
- Red Sox closer Keith Foulke experienced discomfort in his right elbow during a Tuesday throwing session and has pushed back the timetable for his return. Mike Timlin will hold down the fort with Curt Schilling's return to the rotation.
- Garret Anderson got back into the lineup on Tuesday after missing 10 days of action. He's gone 1-for-8 in his first two games back, and has hit just .227 with two homers and 10 RBIs since the All-Star break.
- Finally, the Astros are looking forward to the possible return of slugger Jeff Bagwell to the lineup for the September playoff push. He hit live pitching on Tuesday night for the first time since hitting the DL.
- Carlos Pena, 1B, Det: Pena has been absolutely on fire since being recalled from Triple-A Toledo on August 17th. He's hit six home runs and driven in 12 runs in five games.
- Kyle Farnsworth, RP, Atl: Farnsworth finally picked up his first save for the Braves on Wednesday against Chicago. He retired four hitters with three strikeouts to close out the 3-1 win. Farnsworth has been far from automatic in the closer role in the past, but the struggles of Chris Reitsma gives him a crack at the job. Check the wire in your league, because many owners are still awaiting an official proclamation from manager Bobby Cox about this situation.
- Coco Crisp, OF, Cle: Crisp is part of the late-season surge for the Indians, putting up a batting average of .318 with 13 RBIs and 15 runs scored in August. Cleveland will play 12 games against Detroit and Kansas City over the final month.
- Jonny Gomes, OF, Tam: Gomes has quietly amassed tremendous numbers for the Devil Rays over the past two and a half months. He's hit 15 homers since mid-June and has reached his second straight month with double-digit RBIs. Gomes has also scored 18 runs in August. With the typical second-half awakening of Aubrey Huff's bat, Gomes should be able to finish strong.
- Bengie Molina, C, LAA: Those looking to solidify the catcher position and make up games played or replace injured starters such as Mike Piazza are turning to Molina. He's hitting a strong .368 in August with three homers and 11 RBIs.
- Jason Marquis, SP, StL: Despite the continued dominance of the Cards, Marquis has lost seven straight starts and eight of his past 10. During that stretch, his ERA has risen over half of a run.
- Brandon Lyon, RP, Ari: Owners are beginning to give up hope that Lyon will reclaim the closer role before season's end. He's been brutal since returning from the DL, allowing 10 earned runs over 5.2 innings pitched and surrendering three home runs.
- Tyler Walker, RP, SF: Walker hit the DL with inflammation in his shoulder and will be eligible to come off on September 4th. That allows Armando Benitez to reclaim his closer role for the final month of the campaign.
- Mike Piazza, C, NYM: Piazza went on the DL with a fracture in his left hand, and fantasy owners wasted no time in dumping him to the waiver wire. He's only hit 14 homers and driven in 55 runs while appearing in 97 games for the Mets this year.
- Erik Bedard, SP, Bal: Bedard's release is more a function of an inept offense than his own doing. He has one win in eight starts since returning from the disabled list with only one truly brutal outing (seven earned runs on 8/3 versus the Angels). In every other start during that stretch, he's allowed three or fewer earned runs.
PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Juan Rivera, LAA, OF
With Garret Anderson battling tendonitis, Rivera figures to continue to get at-bats over the final month of the season. He's hitting a strong .375 for the month with three homers and 14 RBIs in 15 games. In the Angels lineup, he's come close to matching his '04 totals (12 HR, 49 RBIs a year ago) in 56 fewer games.
DROP OF THE WEEK
Craig Biggio, Hou, 2B/OF
The dual position eligibility is nice, but Biggio has struggled of late. He's hitting .235 in August with just four RBIs, zero stolen bases and zero home runs.
HOT AND COLD
Mike Jacobs, C, NYM: This guy has been on fire since being called up when Piazza hit the DL, smashing four homers with nine RBIs and eight runs scored in four games played. Before long, he'll have eligibility at both catcher and first base for those looking for some late-season magic.
Kevin Mench, OF, Tex: Mench is hitting at a .329 clip in August with four homers and nine RBIs, and the Rangers have six games left on their homestand. He even stole a base this past week! Mench is hitting .563 over the past week and has quietly assembled a tremendous season.
Jeromy Burnitz, OF, ChC: It happened much later than Cubs fans had hoped, but Burnitz is finally putting some wood on the ball. He's driven in 11 runs in the past week with two homers and four multi-hit games.
Jayson Werth, OF, LAD: The loss of Milton Bradley means that Werth will continue to see regular playing time. Since returning from the DL, he's not lighting up the average (.268) or power (one HR, five RBIs) categories, but six stolen bases in 12 games is nothing to dismiss. Those looking for a boost to the SB category down the stretch should take a peek at this Dodgers outfielder.
Seth McClung, SP/RP, TB: McClung has won five of his past seven starts, including three straight (two versus Cleveland and one against Texas). He's allowed just four earned runs in his past 14 innings of work while striking out nine. His strikeout-to-walk ratio will drive you a bit batty, but he's going well for those searching for a spot starter.
Joe Mays, SP, Min: Mays has been atrocious since the All-Star break, compiling a record of 1-6 with a huge 7.48 ERA. There's a good chance that the Twins will remove him from the rotation in favor of Scott Baker or Francisco Liriano.
Brad Wilkerson, 1B/OF, Was: Wilkerson is hitting a weak .164 in the month of August with two homers and eight RBIs. He's struggled at the plate since his strong April, hitting just five home runs since May 1st.
Russ Ortiz, SP, Ari: The Diamondbacks certainly expected something more from Ortiz, but he's been positively brutal this year. He hasn't won a game since May 18th (when he moved to 4-2 on the year) and has allowed 19 earned runs in 12.2 innings pitched (13.50 ERA) in three starts since coming off of the disabled list.
Pedro Feliz, 1B/3B/SS/OF, SF: Since the All-Star break, Feliz has struggled at the plate, hitting .238 with seven homers and 20 RBIs. If you remove his 5-for-5 game on August 17th from the records, he's hitting .180 for the month of August. His overall numbers are solid if he's pegged as your shortstop (.264, 18 HR, 71 RBIs), but he's falling short of 1B power numbers that fantasy owners anticipated.
Justin Morneau, 1B, Min: Morneau continues to disappoint owners who expected a breakout year on the strength of his 2004 audition. He's hitting an anemic .216 since May 1st, but remains in lineups on the strength of his 17 homers.
Coors Field Factor:
The lights are down in Colorado this week, as the Rockies take a tour of California. They'll play three games at San Diego this weekend and then head north to San Francisco for three games.
The Rockies will return to Coors for a quick three-game set against the feuding Dodgers next week. I'll look at the stat lines in advance of that series next week.
The Rangers have six games remaining on their current homestand against AL Central teams. The Minnesota Twins come to Arlington for a weekend series and will be followed by the scuffling Chicago White Sox early next week.
- Offensive numbers are typically robust at Ameriquest, but Jacque Jones has failed to produce in his 21 career games at the venue. He's hit a weak .205 with two homers and eight RBIs.
- The sweet-swinging young catcher Joe Mauer gets his first shot at Ameriquest over the weekend. He's hit .319 during August with 12 RBIs to raise his season totals to .305 with nine homers, 49 RBIs and the all-important 10 stolen bases.
- Johan Santana is making his annual second-half surge. Since the All-Star break, Santana has posted a record of 5-1 with a miniscule ERA of 1.82 and WHIP of 0.97. He'll take to the hill on Sunday.
- Carl Everett of the White Sox will enjoy his return to the venue. Everett, whose four-RBI night on Wednesday helped gain the Sox a big win against Minnesota, has averaged a home run in every 13.3 at-bats at Ameriquest with 90 RBIs in 107 games played.
- A.J. Pierzynski hasn't posted big power numbers at Ameriquest (one HR, seven RBIs), but he holds a robust .345 average (20-for-58) in 15 games.
- Top Sox slugger Paul Konerko has also scuffled in Arlington. He owns a .217 average (26-for-120) with five homers and 27 RBIs in 31 games.
Matchups to watch:
- The Yankees and Randy Johnson get their prescription filled this weekend with the arrival of the Royals to Yankee Stadium. Johnson will go for his first win in a month when he faces the Royals and Mike Wood on Friday. In three August starts, Johnson has recorded a record of 0-2 with an ERA of 6.16 and WHIP of 1.47.
- Cleveland continues to make a late-season run at the division-leading White Sox when they open a weekend series with the Blue Jays on Friday. C.C. Sabathia seeks his fifth straight win when he faces Dustin McGowan. He went 2-7 in June and July with a miserable 6.75 ERA. In August, he's posted an ERA of 3.00 with a WHIP of 1.15.
- Speaking of the White Sox, they'll look to solve rookie phenom Felix Hernandez on Friday night when he faces Orlando Hernandez. Felix has thrown eight innings in three of his four starts and has whiffed 26 hitters in that stretch. He has yet to allow an extra-base hit in 29 innings pitched at the Major League level!
- It looks like Greg Maddux's remarkable streak of 17 seasons with 15 or more wins is in serious jeopardy. He's stuck on 10 victories with just over a month to go. On Saturday, he'll square off against Dontrelle Willis and the Marlins. Willis struggled through a brutal July, but has rebounded nicely in August (3-2 with a 1.03 ERA and 0.97 WHIP).
- Dodgers call-up Edwin Jackson allowed three earned runs in 4.2 innings pitched against the Marlins on Monday. He'll look to keep the Dodgers alive in the weak NL West when he squares off against Roy Oswalt and the Astros on Saturday. Oswalt has won only once in his past five trips to the hill.
- Wild card leader Philadelphia will look to continue Arizona's swoon this weekend. Arizona has recorded a record of 2-8 in their past 10 games. Jon Lieber is trying to book-end a miserable middle of the season with a strong finish (3-1 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in August) after his 4-1 start. Brandon Webb, who has two wins in his past 10 starts (2-6), will try to get back on track for the D-Backs.
IT'S A FACT
With three more victories in the 2005 campaign, Bartolo Colon will become the first Angels pitcher to reach the 20-win mark since Nolan Ryan did it in 1974 (22 wins). He's also reduced his ERA by a full 1.5 runs over last year to 3.46. That's not bad for a pitcher drafted on average in the 13th round this year.