Who would have thought that with the fates of Johnny Sack, Christopher and Cousin Tony hanging in the balance, it would be the Los Angeles Lakers that got clipped on Sunday? Between closing the book on season five of "The Sopranos" and pulling for Smarty Jones to close out the Triple Crown, there were a lot of diversions out there last weekend. Not to worry, The Skinny kept an eye on the proceedings, and what you need to know is below.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- The conditions at Wrigley Field on Friday – a light breeze blowing in from center field and an opponent in town averaging just two runs over their previous five games – were perfect for Mark Prior's first start of the season. Prior owners got everything they could hope for during his six innings of work. He struck out eight, walked none and threw each of his pitches like this was just another start in June. Joe Borowski's blown save drained some of the fantasy value from the outing, but owners should be no less encouraged. This was a game Prior would finish in September.
- Someone needs to remind major league rookies of the Yankee Stadium mystique. In April it was Boston's Bronson Arroyo who acted like he owned the town when he debuted at Yankee Stadium. Saturday it was who appeared on baseball's grandest stage and did everything short of earn a key to the city. In eight innings of work, he struck out five, walked only one and allowed a lone run on a Ruben Sierra solo homer. He was 5-1 with a 3.13 ERA at the Triple-A level and is the fourth-best prospect in the Texas organization according to Baseball America. He gets a slightly more favorable matchup on Wednesday against Pittsburgh.
- Adam Eaton owners – if there are any left – had to be encouraged by his outing on Sunday. Eaton's 8.16 ERA in May went a long way toward erasing memories of draft day when he and teammate Jake Peavy were high on everyone's sleeper list. Eaton allowed only three hits over six innings while shutting down Milwaukee to earn his second win of the season. Pitching-desperate owners could do worse than giving Eaton a look. At his worst he still doesn't walk anyone and San Diego is, at least for now, staying in just about every game.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Nick Johnson, Mon, 1B – Long ago cast off and dismissed in most leagues due to the glut of fantasy value at first base, Johnson has emerged as a viable option for managers scrambling to fill the voids left by the injured Richie Sexson and Jason Giambi. In nine games though Sunday, Johnson had five multi-hit games and RBIs in three of his last four contests. Look for a spike in run production when Montreal's team batting average makes an inevitable move upward toward the .250 mark.
- Tony Armas Jr., Mon, SP – Thank Rocky Biddle for allowing Armas' sparkling return from more than a year off fly under the radar. Armas allowed only two runs on three hits while striking out seven in 5.1 innings Tuesday, and then sat by as Biddle allowed back-to-back moon shots to blow the lead. Tuesday's matchup against Kansas City and rookie phenom Zack Greinke is one for all fantasy owners to watch closely.
SPEED-O-METER: Checking the latest movements on the basepaths
- Juan Pierre, Fla (Back on top) – Pierre is back atop the Florida lineup as of June 4. He is now 0-for-3 on steal attempts in June.
- Luis Matos, Bal (Will his power come around?) – Matos' stolen base on Sunday was his third in his last six games. Still waiting for that 20-20 power to emerge.
- Brian Roberts, Bal (Still on the move) – Went 12 games without scoring a run, and then responded by scoring 10 in his next seven. His steal on Sunday was his first of the month.
- Carlos Beltran, KC (Still waiting) – Stolen base drought now stands at 11 games. Seems tolerable compared to his 18-game homerless stretch.
- Jeff DaVanon, Ana (Put him in, coach) – Swiped bases in back-to-back games to start the weekend, then sat Sunday. Such is life with Raul Mondesi in town.
- Chone Figgins, Ana (Nice wheels at hot corner) – Just earned eligibility at third base and is 6-for-6 on steal attempts since May 26.
- Randy Winn, Sea (Keeping up with Ichiro) – Has three steals in June after attempting only two thefts in April. Teammate Ichiro Suzuki has seven steals in the last 11 games.
PROSPECT WATCH: Intriguing names down on the farm
- Andy Marte, Atl, 3B (Double-A) – ETA: Sept. 1
Marte had a fairly typical weekend, hitting a pair of doubles on Saturday after banging out a double on Friday in the opener of a three-game set for Double-A Greenville. On the season he has 29 extra-base hits in 50 games, including 11 homers. You'll be hearing from Marte at the major league level no later than Sept. 1, but with the current state of affairs in the Atlanta infield, the call could come any time.
- Justin Lehr, Oak, RP (Triple-A) – ETA: Aug. 1
Lehr picked up his 11th save of the season Saturday for Triple-A Sacramento, which will do little to quiet speculation that eventually he will be recalled to solve Oakland's bullpen woes. In 28 innings through Sunday, Lehr has allowed only five earned runs while striking out 33 – numbers that would look great anchoring the Oakland pen. For now, management says he won't be recalled this season, but eventually they need an answer and it may not be found on their current roster.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Eyebrow-raising numbers
77 – Number of games, through Sunday, since Jason Kendall's last home run. With six stolen bases and a batting average better than .300, he still is having a respectable fantasy year for a catcher. With nine doubles and no triples on the season, however, his on-base percentage currently eclipses his slugging percentage by about 20 points.