For many leagues, the trade deadline passed earlier this week. That's leading to hyper-activity on the waiver wire, with teams looking for spot starters, streaking speed merchants or power hitters who've locked in.
Several big names have hit the DL, while others are building toward a return to action. And, of course, with the dog days of summer come shakeups in bullpens across the Major Leagues and the rise of new closer options.
It's time to review the action in Fantasy Baseball This Week .
- Brady Clark hit the DL on Wednesday as he recovers from bruised ribs. The move was made retroactive to August 11th. Corey Hart was brought up from Triple-A and has started the last four games in place of Clark (3-for-16). Super prospect Prince Fielder was recalled from Triple-A Nashville to take Clark's roster spot. He'll most likely see only a few at-bats off of the bench.
- The Mets welcomed back Carlos Beltran to the lineup after his horrific collision with Mike Cameron a week ago. Beltran opted against surgery and was in the lineup for the Mets on Wednesday. He even stole a base! But, with the good news, the Mets were also dealt a blow on Wednesday when they learned that Mike Piazza sustained a hairline fracture in his hand after being hit with a foul tip on Tuesday. Mike Jacobs (25 HR, 92 RBIs and .321 average in Double-A) was recalled, but no determination has been made as to whether Piazza will land on the DL. However, it's unlikely that he plays this weekend. As for Cameron, he underwent facial surgery to repair his broken nose and fractured cheekbones. He'll likely miss the rest of the season.
- Nomar Garciaparra launched a homer in the fourth inning on Wednesday, and then left the game in the fifth. His back stiffened up after diving for a ground ball in the second inning. The Cubs are off on Thursday, and Garciaparra thinks he'll be available for Friday. Keep an eye on this one.
- Rafael Palmeiro remains in the news, this time scratched from the lineup with a sprained ankle. It's not considered serious, and he should be available for the weekend series against Cleveland.
- Carlos Guillen went to the DL on Wednesday with a sore right knee, a move made retroactive to August 11th. The Tigers recalled Carlos Pena (remember him?) from Triple-A Toledo.
- According to Dr. Robert Watkins, there is a chance that Kevin Brown could return to the rotation before the end of the season. His back has shown great improvement of late, leaving the door open for a possible return for the stretch run.
- Ted Lilly, who has been on the DL since July 25th with a strained left bicep, has been cleared to resume throwing. He'll likely do a rehab appearance or two next week before rejoining the big club.
- Yadier Molina took batting practice for the first time since breaking his hand and reported no problems. He may be activated by the end of the weekend. Fellow disabled Cardinals Larry Walker and Reggie Sanders are also stroking the ball well in batting practice and both may return to the lineup by September 1st. The news isn't as clean for Scott Rolen, who needs another shoulder surgery. He either undergoes the surgery and misses the season, or he plays with it at far less than full strength. Stay tuned …
- Ryan Freel was scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on Thursday to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. Rich Aurilia and Ray Olmedo are expected to split time at 2B in his absence.
- Oliver Perez, still on the comeback trail after booting the laundry cart, threw on Wednesday and should pitch one or two rehab starts at Triple-A Indianapolis before rejoining the Pirates.
- Jeff Bagwell continues to take batting practice, but his arm strength still prevents him from throwing a full 60 feet. He's expected to return in September pending his ability to take some at-bats in a minor league rehab stint.
- Angels prospect Dallas McPherson tweaked his back while on his rehab assignment and will be shut down for several days before resuming his workouts. No timetable has been set for his return to the Angels.
- Khalil Greene is back on the DL with a non-displaced fracture of his left big toe and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks. He'll be back for the final two-three weeks of the regular season as the Padres seek to hold off challengers in the underwhelming NL West.
- Felix Hernandez, SP, Sea: Despite the attention afforded to the 19-year old fireballer, Hernandez remains available in a great number of leagues. In his first three starts, Hernandez has allowed just three earned runs in 21 innings of work. Oh yeah, he's also struck out one hitter per inning pitched! Go ahead and make the comparisons to Doc Gooden, but get to the waiver wire to see if he's been overlooked in your league.
- So Taguchi, OF, StL: Taguchi owns a nine-game hitting streak and has been absolutely on fire in August. He's hitting .463 for the month with 13 RBIs and four stolen bases. As reported above, Larry Walker and Reggie Sanders are on the comeback trail, but check on his availability if you need a short-term boost.
- Ryan Howard, 1B, Phi: Like the man he replaces, Howard will tally his share of strikeouts over the course of the campaign. Also like Jim Thome, Howard will put up big power numbers. He's hit eight homers and knocked in 30 runs over his first 49 games.
- Willy Taveras, OF, Hou: This man strikes me as the 2005 version of Jerome Walton, 1989 NL Rookie of the Year with the Cubs (.293, 5 HR, 46 RBIs, 24 SB). Walton used his legs for a ridiculous number of infield hits and bunt singles. Taveras has racked up 59 infield hits this year to go along with his 28 stolen bases and 64 runs scored. Those dealing with the loss of Ryan Freel to surgery should explore Taveras' availability.
- Rich Aurilia, 2B/3B/SS, Cin: When it seemed all was lost after a brutal first two months to start the season, Aurilia turned it around in June with a .348 average and 14 RBIs. Since July 1st, he's hit seven homers and knocked in 23 runs. With Freel on the shelf, he'll be assured more at-bats and his versatility helps plug the gap for off days and day-to-day injury concerns.
- Chris Reitsma, RP, Atl: Reitsma has blown three saves in his past four outings and has watched his ERA rise by a full run. Kyle Farnsworth is waiting in the wings to assume his role. Owners aren't waiting for the official announcement to dump Reitsma to the waiver wire.
- Brandon Lyon, RP, Ari: Owners waited and waited … and waited for Lyon's return to the Arizona pen. Now that he's in middle relief, they haven't liked the results of his first two outings and are dumping him back to waivers. He's allowed five earned runs in 1.2 innings of work, allowing six hits in that span.
- Jason Giambi, 1B, NYY: He dominated in July, hitting .355 with 14 homers and 24 RBIs. In August, he's hit .195 with two homers and five RBIs and is hitless in his past 15 at-bats. This streak of ineffectiveness has owners seeking help elsewhere.
- Sammy Sosa, OF, Bal: Owners hoping for a late-summer surge have finally given up. The final straw came with Sosa hitting seventh for the Orioles in two games this week. He's scuffling through a miserable slump (3-for-34) and has hit just one homer since July 27th.
- David Wells, SP, Bos: Wells has compiled a record of 0-1 with an ERA of 6.48 in three August starts. Owners are tossing him to waivers after he allowed 12 hits and six earned runs against Detroit on Wednesday.
PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Chris Reitsma's recent struggles have cracked the door open for Farnsworth to assume the closer role. As such, this fireballer with a 3-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is a popular pickup this week on speculation that Bobby Cox makes the move.
DROP OF THE WEEK
It's hard not to pick someone involved in the Royals slide in this spot this week. Sweeney is hitting .222 in 14 August games with four extra-base hits and six RBIs. Three of those RBIs came on one swing of the bat in that wild game against Cleveland on August 9th.
HOT AND COLD
Coors Field Factor:
The Rockies end a long homestand with a three-game set against the Cubs this weekend. They'll then hit the road for a nine-game trip to California for series against the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants.
- Derrek Lee owners and Cubs fans are gripping. Lee has gone five straight games without an extra-base hit or RBI! He looks forward to the visit to Coors, where he holds a lifetime .349 mark in 24 games with three homers and 11 RBIs.
- With just one RBI in 14 August games, Jeromy Burnitz can't wait for the flight to depart. In 95 career games in Colorado, Burnitz owns 28 homers with 79 RBIs and a .311 average.
- Those looking for a spot play in the outfield or need to cover an injured player may turn their attention to Corey Patterson. In nine career games at Coors, he's hit five homers with nine RBIs and a .385 batting average.
- Normally, a start at Coors is enough to warrant a moment's thought of benching even the best hurler. That's not a problem this weekend. Mark Prior has been brilliant in three Coors starts, allowing three earned runs in 16 innings pitched, good for a 1.42 ERA with a WHIP of 1.00.
The Rangers will welcome the Mariners to town on Tuesday, August 23rd after a three-game series against the Devil Rays.
- Raul Ibanez is a fan of Ameriquest Field, carrying a .291 average with three homers and nine RBIs in 27 career games at the venue.
- Adrian Beltre, who has left fantasy owners shaking their heads after his brilliant '04 season, has hit .289 with three homers and nine RBIs in nine games against Texas this year. Only three of those games were played at Ameriquest.
- Richie Sexson went 5-for-9 with one homer and a single RBI in a three-game set at Ameriquest earlier this year.
- Jamie Moyer holds a lifetime mark of 4-3 with an ERA of 5.17 (1.72 WHIP) in 13 games at Ameriquest.
Matchups to watch:
- The weekend series between playoff contenders Atlanta and San Diego kicks off with Mike Hampton taking on Chan Ho Park. Hampton won his first start since coming off the DL on August 14th, allowing three earned runs over five innings of work. Park has allowed 12 earned runs in 14 innings pitched since joining the Padres.
- In another big series, the Nationals send John Patterson to the hill against the Mets and Jae Seo on Friday. Patterson has won three straight starts, including eight brilliant innings of one-run ball against Colorado at Coors. Livan Hernandez (14-5, 3.45 ERA) takes on Pedro Martinez (12-5, 2.96 ERA) on Saturday. Martinez hasn't won for the Mets since July 23rd.
- Felix Hernandez looks to continue his brilliant start on Saturday when he faces the Twins for the second time. He pitched eight shutout innings against them on August 9th, allowing only five singles.
- The A's look to continue the Royals' recent woes with a three-game set at Kansas City this weekend. Barry Zito will look to start a new personal winning streak when he takes the hill on Saturday. Zito suffered his first loss since June 17th against Baltimore on August 15th. That streak spanned 10 starts. He's 2-0 lifetime at Kauffman Stadium with a solid 2.39 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.
- Red Sox rookie hurler Jon Papelbon will toe the rubber on Sunday against the Angels and Paul Byrd. In 10.1 innings of work for the Sox, Papelbon has fanned 13 hitters but has walked seven. He'll need to bring his A game to the table, as the Sox look to hold off the Yankees.
IT'S A FACT
Roger Clemens is an absolute marvel at the age of 43. He's carrying an absurd 0.37 ERA on the road (three earned runs in 73 innings pitched) and an overall mark of 1.32 to go along with an 11-4 record. Here's scary food for thought. The Astros have scored just three runs in his four losses (two shutouts) and have been shut out in four of his no-decisions.