The Skinny reached several conclusions in the last seven days. Sidney Ponson is not good. Richard Hidalgo is also not good. Rob Mackowiak, it appears, may not be the answer. We bid farewell to Billy Koch and Joe Borowski and welcomed Shingo Takatsu and Ryan Madson. It took less than one inning to conclude that the Madson addition may have been ill timed. Such is the life of an Experts League team owner. Oh well, the season is young and The Unit is clicking, so The Skinny presses on with optimism.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- Don't look now, but Dontrelle Willis is returning to form. A miserable May (5.10 ERA, .309 opponents average) had some fantasy owners predicting a Fidrych-like return to obscurity for this funky 2003 phenom. Not so fast. Willis went the distance Sunday to beat Detroit and is now 1-0 in June with a 1.64 ERA. Better yet, he has 18 strikeouts and just two walks in 22 innings.
- Barry Bonds owners must love interleague play. Apparently, American League managers are not aware that pitching around Bonds is a way of life – not a situational decision. Bonds was walked once in San Francisco's two wins over the O's and responded by going 5-for-10 with two home runs and five RBIs. It's no coincidence that Baltimore's only win in the series came after issuing Bonds five free passes. Also of note in San Francisco: Michael Tucker now has 11 RBIs in June.
- Anaheim finally got some good news on the injury front as Garret Anderson returned after missing more than a month due to arthritis. Anderson hit safely in all four games through the weekend, capping off his comeback with three hits, a homer and two RBIs Sunday. Anderson might be the most underrated fantasy performer of the past five seasons, and his return should boost more than a few fantasy rosters. Not all the news was good, of course. Sunday's Orange County Register reported that Raul Mondesi expects to be out 7-8 weeks with a torn right quadriceps.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Damian Miller, Oak, C – If all else fails in fantasy sports, ride the hot hand. At the catcher position, nobody is hotter than Miller. Between June 6 and June 11, Miller collected nine hits, two homers and 17 RBI. With only 43 games under his belt, he's well over halfway to matching his career-high of 47 RBIs. There is no reason to think he can maintain his current run-production pace, but a .280 average and 45 RBIs the rest of the way is certainly within reach.
- Gary Knotts, Det, SP – Yahoo! Sports' Mike Harmon turned The Skinny on to Knotts prior to his win over Florida Friday. In six games as a starter, Knotts has recorded four wins while allowing only 31 hits in 34.1 innings. Opponents are batting just .167 against him in June. He merits an immediate look in AL-only leagues. Otherwise, don't pull the trigger until you see how he fares at Philadelphia this week.
SPEED-O-METER: Checking the latest movements on the basepaths
- Juan Pierre, Fla (Fighting the "bust" tag) – If he doesn't steal 50 bases, that's exactly what he'll be. Steals Saturday and Sunday - his first of the month - were a step in the right direction.
- Ryan Freel, Cin (Free to run) – Freel attempted three steals over the weekend and was successful twice. With Austin Kearns ailing, more at bats and green lights are on the way.
- Tony Graffanino, KC (4 steals/last 9 games) – He's batting just .167 in June through Sunday. His recent speed surge is intriguing for a guy who has never stolen 10 bases in a single season.
- Chone Figgins, Ana (Streaking at plate and on paths) – Figgins stole his fourth base of the month Sunday while extending his hitting streak to 12 games. Overall, he has nine steals in Anaheim's last 18 games.
- Jeff DaVanon, Ana (6 steals/last 7 games) – DaVanon has proven to be a valuable short-term investment. Long-team value depends on how he fits in with Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson back from injury.
- Cesar Izturis, LA (3 steals/last 4 games) – Izturis now has five steals in his past 14 games and is batting .356 with 10 runs scored over the same span.
- Eric Byrnes, Oak (Steals are just a bonus) – Byrnes stole two bases last week, but the real surprise is the fact that he now has six homers in 20 games as a leadoff hitter.
- Coco Crisp, Cle (4 steals/last 11 games) – Crisp is another guy getting it done at the plate. His weekend included one steal, seven hits and seven RBI.
- Gary Sheffield, NY (0-for-5 on SB attempts) – We expected this kind of slowdown from Vlad, not Sheffield. Thankfully, the bat has come alive in June (14 RBI/11 games).
- Carlos Beltran, KC (Drought finally over?) – Stolen base Saturday snapped a streak of 15 games without a steal. Hopefully a bruised knee suffered on Sunday won't cause another dry spell.
PROSPECT WATCH: Intriguing names down on the farm
- Dallas McPherson, ANA, 3B (Double-A) – ETA: September 1
Even before he took the field for Thursday's doubleheader, McPherson was considered Anaheim's third baseman of the future. Collecting six hits, four home runs and eight RBIs before the night was out only brought that future a little closer. How did the rest of his weekend go? Well, things tapered off a little bit, as McPherson was 3-for-8 with two homers and seven RBI in his next two games. In his last 23 games entering play Sunday, McPherson had an eye-popping 14 homers and 42 RBIs.
- Joe Blanton, Oak, SP (Triple-A) – ETA: September 1
Should the A's move Rich Harden to the bullpen or ship Barry Zito out of town, they have yet another blue chip pitching prospect waiting in the wings. Blanton is the 43rd best prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America. Saturday he showed why -striking out 11 and carrying a shutout into the ninth inning in a 7-4 win over Salt Lake. Blanton, who throws a fastball in the mid-90s, is now 4-2 on the season with 60 strikeouts and only 20 walks in 82.1 innings.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Eyebrow-raising numbers
1 – Number of hits opposing hitters have in their last 47 at bats against Armando Benitez. An afterthought on draft day, Benetiz didn't even crack the top 10 for average draft position amongst relievers.