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Fantasy Baseball This Week

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OK, so we were duped by the rumor mill this past week. For all the talk of monumental player movement, there weren't many significant deals for fantasy purposes. The trade that brought Miguel Olivo to San Diego gave owners in NL-only leagues something to act on, but the deal that shipped Phil Nevin to Texas robbed them of his potential eligibility at the catcher position.

Yes, Fernando Rodney's value surged, and Larry Bigbie is somewhat intriguing in Colorado for NL-only leagues. But, let's face it; the movement of a Manny Ramirez or Alfonso Soriano would have at least kept us on a positive note after a great Hall of Fame weekend.

Instead, all the chatter on talk radio, update shows and newspaper columns is focused directly on the Rafael Palmeiro issue. Whatever your opinion of his Hall-worthiness, and I always welcome your comments on that, it does remove a recently hot fantasy 1B from the radar. Some reports have Palmeiro hanging it up altogether. Time will tell.

But, let's stay on the positives. Jason Giambi continues to mash, connecting for his fifth multi-HR game in the last month and running his season total to 21. Chris Carpenter is dominating, Derrek Lee remains in the hunt for the Triple Crown, and Roger Clemens has an ERA of 1.45 … at the age of 43!

Those stories whet the appetite, but there's plenty more inside Fantasy Baseball This Week .

INJURY UPDATE

  • Manny Ramirez is listed as day-to-day after colliding with Edgar Renteria and sustaining a bruised face and chest while chasing a fly ball. He did hit his 30th HR early in the game before the incident.
  • The Cubs will welcome back Kerry Wood and Nomar Garciaparra this weekend. Garciaparra is expected to start on Friday and bat fifth or sixth against the Mets. As for Wood, check your waiver wire, because he's slated to come out of the pen for the rest of the season to reduce the strain on his arm. Curt Schilling saved his seventh game for the Red Sox on Wednesday night. Wood may provide similar numbers in Chicago.
  • Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano, on the DL since July 7th, pitched six innings in a rehab start for Class-A Tampa on Wednesday. He threw 77 pitches with good velocity and said he felt stronger as the game went on. Fellow offseason acquisition Jaret Wright will take the hill on Thursday. Both expect to return to the Yankees rotation in the next 10 days.
  • In case you were wondering, laundry cart-kicking champion Oliver Perez is coming along slowly in his recovery from a broken toe. The new timetable for his return puts him back in the rotation around Labor Day.
  • Carlos Delgado experienced pain in a batting practice session and was forced to cut it short. The Marlins aren't ruling out a short stint to the DL. That decision should be made by Friday.
  • Julio Lugo has been bothered by a sore knee and will likely be held out of the lineup until this weekend's series against the Angels. Alex Gonzalez will take his place short-term. If the problem persists, B.J. Upton may be recalled to the big club.
  • Moises Alou aggravated his hamstring on Tuesday against Colorado, and Giants trainer Stan Conte is not optimistic about a quick recovery. It's possible that Alou finds himself on the shelf in short order.
  • Kazuo Matsui is expected to rejoin the Mets within the next week after missing six weeks with a bruised knee. Hitting just .234 with three homers and three steals, Matsui will need to work his way back into the lineup, both in New York and in the fantasy realm. Staying with the Mets for the moment, Steve Trachsel is taking mini-steps toward a return from a herniated disc. He threw on Tuesday and is still a couple weeks away from a definitive return date.
  • Cleveland slugger Travis Hafner rejoined the club for the series finale against the Yankees on Thursday. Hafner had been on the DL with a concussion since July 17th.
  • Chipper Jones strained his rotator cuff diving for a grounder on Tuesday and has missed the past two games. He reported no discomfort when swinging from the left side on Thursday, so expect to see him available for pinch-hitting duties at the very least.
  • Maybe he's not done just yet. Jeff Bagwell hit in the cages on Tuesday and hopes to return to live batting practice in the next week or so. He's eyeing a September return from shoulder surgery. Though his PT will be impacted by the surgery, the return of his bat even on a part-time basis will be welcome in NL-only leagues.

BUZZ INDEX

  • Raul Ibanez, 1B/OF, Seattle Mariners: Ibanez has five multi-hit games in his past seven outings, and has driven in nine runs during that stretch.
  • Armando Benitez, RP, San Francisco Giants: Benitez threw 14 pitches in his first work since April 26th. Benitez reported no pain and appears on the fast-track to returning to the Giants' pen. Check the waiver wire, as he might have been cast out after that injury.
  • Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland Indians: Sizemore has hit safely in nine of his past 11 games, including four multi-hit efforts. He's also driven in seven runs during that stretch with two home runs and two stolen bases.
  • Rafael Palmeiro, 1B, Baltimore Orioles: Owners wasted no time kicking 3,000 Hit Club member Palmeiro to the curb after the positive steroid test. Palmeiro had a strong July, hitting six homers with 19 RBIs and a batting average of .299. He will begin serving a 10-game suspension at some point in the near future. Owners are looking to Chad Tracy and Justin Morneau to replace his bat in the lineup.
  • Barry Bonds, OF, San Francisco Giants: On Tuesday, Bonds told MLB.com that he doesn't anticipate playing during the 2005 season. On Thursday, he reversed himself and said that he still hopes to return to the field for the September run. A recent MRI showed fluid building on the knee, forcing him to slow his rehab schedule. However, despite being 15 games under .500, the Giants are only 6.5 games out of first place in the NL West. If you have an open bench slot, he's worth a pickup on the latest flip-flop of his stance.
  • Brandon Inge, C/3B/OF, Detroit Tigers: Despite his catcher eligibility, a prolonged 33-game slump in which he's hit .181 (23-for-127) with one homer since June 19th has owners shedding Inge from their rosters.
  • Mark Redman, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates: There's been some question as to whether Mark Redman has gone into "Operation Shutdown" (my tribute to the words of former Pirates outfielder Derek Bell). Recent reports offer that Redman has actually been working with a sore back. Whatever the case, Redman has earned a single victory in his past 10 starts and watched his ERA rise from a brilliant 2.80 to an average 4.61.
  • Kyle Farnsworth, RP, Atl: While the trade of Farnsworth to Atlanta made a fantasy option out of Fernando Rodney, it sent Farnsworth to the fantasy trash heap. Chris Reitsma has been effective of late, meaning that Farnsworth will be relegated to middle relief.

PICKUP OF THE WEEK


Sean Douglass, Det, SP
Douglass allowed one run and three hits in eight innings against the Mariners on Thursday. For the year, he's 4-1 with a strong 3.32 ERA and 1.16 WHIP and has tallied six quality starts in his seven outings. Take a peek on the wire; it's possible that the former Orioles prospect has slipped through the cracks.

DROP OF THE WEEK

Marquis Grissom, SF, OF
Those hoping that Grissom would stay healthy and get a boost in production upon the return of Barry Bonds got the news on Tuesday that Grissom was designated for assignment. He hit just .214 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 44 games. While his career may not be over (it's possible that a contender will add the veteran bat for the stretch run), his time as a fantasy contributor has passed.

HOT AND COLD

Geoff Jenkins, OF, Mil: Jenkins remains available in a number of leagues, despite hitting .545 in the past seven days (5-for-5 night on Thursday). Jenkins also hit .379 for the month of July with five homers and 23 RBIs. I know, he can also put up weak numbers, as evidenced by his .211 average with four HR and nine RBIs in June, but ride the hot streak out if he's available.

Joey Gathright, OF, Tam: The 24-year-old Gathright will be of no help to the power categories and will hit for a solid but unspectacular average (though he did hit .429 over the past seven days). However, if you're in need of speed, check the waiver wire. He's getting to play every day and has stolen a base in three straight games.

Josh Towers, SP, Tor: The Blue Jays are surging, and Towers has been strong in his past three outings. He won two of those outings and allowed seven earned runs over 21.1 innings of work (2.95 ERA).

Ervin Santana, SP, LAA: He was alternately brilliant and brutal in his first six starts, thus accounting for his 4.91 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. However, he's come on strong in his past four starts, winning three of his last four decisions with 20 strikeouts in 25.1 innings pitched. He's also compiled an ERA of 2.84 in that span.

Matt Holliday, OF, Col: I pointed out Holliday's robust home totals last week and noted that a power surge was in the offing. He's hit four home runs and knocked in 10 runs in his past 10 games. And, he's hit .350 during that stretch and picked up an NL Player of the Week award.

Brian Bruney, RP, Ari: His ERA is now up to a balloon-like 6.46, having surrendered three earned runs in his past 1.1 innings of work. He also blew his fourth save this week. Owners who picked up Bruney while waiting on Brandon Lyon's return fear that Greg Aquino and Jose Valverde will continue to see work in the closer role.

Shea Hillenbrand, 1B/3B, Tor: Perhaps the trade rumors have affected his play? Whatever the case, Hillenbrand hasn't been able to pile on the Blue Jays recent success. He hit a weak .143 (3-for-21) over the past seven days with one homer and a single RBI.

Erik Bedard, SP, Bal: Since returning from an extended DL stay, Bedard has been battered in three of his four starts. He's lost three straight games with an ERA of 7.63 in those outings. He walked eight hitters in his past two starts to get himself in trouble. Though he doesn't give up the long ball (four in 82 innings pitched), he did allow 31 base runners in those 15.1 innings pitched. With the wheels seemingly coming off in Baltimore, owners that had patiently awaited Bedard's return are jumping ship.

Jeromy Burnitz, OF, ChC: Burnitz has been positively awful over the past week, registering two hits in his last 24 at-bats (one single and one double) and one RBI. The reintroduction of Nomar Garciaparra to the lineup may help ignite the bats of players not named Lee or Ramirez, but for now, Burnitz's lumber remains iced.

Woody Williams, SP, SD: Williams has lost three straight starts in the Padres' current funk, allowing 18 earned runs over 17 innings pitched. His ERA rose nearly a full run as a result of those outings.

ON DECK

Coors Field Factor:
The Rockies return home on Monday to play a double-header against the Marlins. On Tuesday, the Pirates come to Coors for the first of a three-game set.

  • Miguel Cabrera is itching to get back to Coors for that double-dip. He's hit .400 in seven games at Coors with three homers and 10 RBIs.
  • Carlos Delgado's elbow ailment means more at-bats for Jeff Conine, and he makes for a sneaky play in Monday's twin-bill. In 20 career games at Coors, Conine owns a ridiculous .423 batting average with 17 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs.
  • Brad Eldred clubbed three doubles in Wednesday's game against San Diego. After Daryle Ward's brutal July, he stands to see the bulk of at-bats for the remainder of the season. If you're in need of a spot play this next week, Eldred is worth a look-see.
  • Zach Duke, who has allowed only one earned run in his last 32.1 innings of work, should get to test the Rocky Mountain air in the Thursday afternoon tilt. In his six starts, the Pirates have scored three or fewer runs on four occasions. Though the Rockies aren't nearly as potent as they've been in the past, this should mark an interesting test for the 22-year old lefty.

Arlington Assault:
The Rangers welcome the scuffling Baltimore Orioles to town for a three-game set to finish the homestand.

  • Though he's swung the bat somewhat better in recent weeks, Arlington has not been particularly kind to Sammy Sosa. He has hit just two homers with six RBIs in 23 career games.
  • Perhaps the trip to Texas will get Brian Roberts' bat back in gear. After an MVP first-half, Roberts has hit .250 with one HR and eight RBIs in 21 games since the All-Star Game in Detroit.
  • Eric Byrnes hasn't posted a big average at Ameriquest (.241 in 24 games with the A's), but has five homers in 83 career at-bats at the venue. That total represents his highest output in a ballpark other than Oakland's McAfee Coliseum.
  • And, Rafael Palmeiro would have loved playing in this series. Palmeiro has hit .292 at the park with 130 homers and 347 RBIs in 423 career games. Averages of one HR every 3.25 games and an RBI in four of every five games would have been a nice boost to fantasy lineups.


Matchups to watch:

  • How Kerry Wood fits into the Cubs' plans down the stretch will be largely dependent on the performance of rookie Rich Hill. In two starts, Hill's allowed four earned runs in 11 innings pitched with nine strikeouts. Hill will take the hill on Friday night against the Mets and Tom Glavine at Shea Stadium.
  • Zach Duke looks to continue his remarkable start to the season on Saturday when he faces off against Odalis Perez and the Dodgers at home. Duke carries a miniscule 0.94 ERA through six starts.
  • An intriguing matchup occurs on Saturday in Minnesota when David Wells and the Red Sox take on Johan Santana and the Twins. Wells has won seven of his past eight decisions, and the Sox have won 10 of his past 12 starts. Fantasy owners have finally seen the Johan Santana they drafted. Over his past four starts, he's compiled an ERA of 2.07.

IT'S A FACT
With another dominating performance against the Twins on Wednesday, AL Pitcher of the Month Barry Zito ran his winning streak to eight games. Since the calendar turned to May (at which time, Zito sat on a record of 0-4 with an ERA of 6.60 and WHIP of 1.43), Zito has gone 11-4 with an ERA of 3.09 and WHIP of 1.11. That's the Zito we remember from 2002.

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