Fantasy Skinny: Reyes, Hidalgo and more

Matt Romig
Yahoo! Sports
CLOSER HOT SEAT
COLORADO ROCKIES RED HOT
1st Chair: Shawn Chacon
2nd Chair: Brian Fuentes, Tim Harikkala
Skinny: Last week manager Clint Hurdle expressed confidence that his closer could "pull out of it." After Chacon allowed a game-winning grand slam Sunday, Hurdle told MLB.com that, "we aren't going to pull the plug just yet." The Skinny thinks it's time for Hurdle to pull his head out of the sand. In his past six outings, Chacon has allowed 17 base runners and 10 earned runs while blowing three saves. Harikkala has held opponents to a .161 average at Coors Field to complement a 0.69 home WHIP.
OAKLAND ATHLETICS RED HOT
1st Chair: Justin Lehr
2nd Chair: Arthur Rhodes, Chad Bradford
Skinny: Nothing is official here, but The Skinny is making a move and we're calling for the righty. Lehr made his major league debut Sunday by retiring Moises Alou, Sammy Sosa and Aramis Ramirez in order. His strikeout of Sosa elicited the following response from Ernie Banks on Fox Sports Net: "Wow, he's got a great fastball." If he's good enough for Mr. Cub, he's good enough for The Skinny's fantasy roster. Rhodes was predictably miserable in the eighth, raising his June WHIP to 1.95 by allowing four baserunners.
MONTREAL EXPOS RED HOT
1st Chair: Chad Cordero
2nd Chair: Luis Ayala
Skinny: Cordero retired Frank Thomas and Carlos Lee during a scoreless ninth Sunday and then was the beneficiary of Orlando Cabrera's walk-off home run. His June numbers are still awful, but he now has a win and a save in his last two outings. Unlike a lot of substitute closers, the Expos view this guy as a long-term option. It also helps that Ayala and Rocky Biddle have been equally shaky during Cordero's first week as closer.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX HOT
1st Chair: Shingo Takatsu
2nd Chair: Damaso Marte
Skinny: Mr. Zero continues to live up to his name – with the notable and welcome exception of the saves column. Takatsu has earned two saves since taking the lead role in manager Ozzie Guillen's closer-by-situation system. He last allowed an earned run on April 20, which was 21 appearances ago. Marte has been brilliant since May 1 and still is in the picture when the situation calls for a lefty. Billy Koch was shipped to Florida and his fantasy value traveled south with him.
CLEVELAND INDIANS HOT
1st Chair: Jose Jimenez
2nd Chair: David Riske, Bob Wickman
Skinny: Jimenez retired Atlanta in order Sunday to convert his fourth straight save opportunity. More importantly – it was his third straight appearance without allowing a hit. His opponents' batting average is now under .200 in June after ballooning to .333 in May. Wickman pitched a scoreless inning for Double-A Akron Friday and hopes to return to the Cleveland bullpen after the All-Star break. Riske continued his dominant June with a scoreless inning on Sunday.
CHICAGO CUBS HOT
1st Chair: LaTroy Hawkins
2nd Chair: Mike Remlinger, Kyle Farnsworth
Skinny: Hawkins has converted five of six save chances since Joe Borowski was placed on the DL. Why turn the burner up this week? Well, he's inherited leads of three or more runs in four of his save tries. In his only attempt at protecting a one-run lead he blew the save. On the plus side, he's issued only one walk in his last 27.2 innings. It was control that led to his downfall as closer in Minnesota.
ANAHEIM ANGELS WARM
1st Chair: Francisco Rodriguez
2nd Chair: Troy Percival
Skinny: Percival is in a hurry to get back on the mound – and rightfully so. Rodriguez has looked very comfortable in the closer role, converting five of six chances in June while striking out 19 in 11.2 innings. Percival, on the other hand, blew three saves in May and allowed 16 hits and six earned runs in 9.2 innings. According to MLB.com, Percival was encouraged enough by a workout Sunday that he may return by the end of this week. The job is his when he returns, but pennant races don't generally allow for loyalty.
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS WARM
1st Chair: Mike Koplove
2nd Chair: Randy Choate, Jose Valverde
Skinny: You have to be desperate to make the move, but the never-ending chase for saves sometimes calls for desperate measures. Koplove figures to get the bulk of save chances for Arizona with Valverde on the DL. Considering their recent struggles, that might not amount to much. Randy Choate may get the call if the situation calls for a lefty, which means his fantasy value is limited to NL West-only leagues with very deep rosters.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Jason Frasor
2nd Chair: Vinnie Chulk
Skinny: Frasor struck out two of the three batters he faced Sunday while earning his sixth save of the season. The smooth outing was a welcome sight for Frasor owners who had watched their guy allow runs in three of four games after a 16-appearance scoreless streak. Justin Speier has struggled of late, allowing Chulk to emerge as Toronto's primary set-up man. He's allowed a run in only one of nine appearances this year.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Jorge Julio
2nd Chair: B.J. Ryan
Skinny: Julio struck out the side Sunday to earn his 10th save of the season, but not until allowing the winning run to come to the plate while protecting a two-run lead. Ryan earned the win and remains a solid speculative pickup for managers desperate for saves.

Here's hoping that Father's Day brought everyone something other than a bad tie, spam in your inbox and another blown save from your closer. It was a busy weekend around the major leagues, so let's dive into the action between the foul lines as The Skinny saw it.


WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

  • It was about five months ago that The Skinny used a sixth-round pick to select Jose Reyes in an experts draft. An early signing of Jack Wilson was a nice recovery, but Reyes' absence has been a big reason why Yahoo! lags near the bottom of the league in runs and steals. Well, the wait finally is over and the early returns are very encouraging.

Reyes stole three bases in his final four rehab starts and then tested the jets while legging out a triple in his 2004 debut with the Mets. His average may lag for a while (he was just 2-for-18 at Double-A Binghamton), but Reyes already has shown a propensity to deliver clutch hits during his brief career. Those managers who stuck with him through all the rehab setbacks should be rewarded with a big second half.

  • If you own Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder or Barry Zito, watching the A's bullpen protect a lead must be about as comfortable as getting your braces tightened and only slightly less painful. As Chad Bradford blew one for Mulder on Saturday, The Skinny couldn't help but reflect on the last time Oakland used a side-armed closer. His name was Billy Taylor and the year was 1999. Maybe not coincidentally, that was the last time Oakland missed the playoffs.

Back in 1980, three Oakland starters recorded at least 20 complete games. We're not likely to see a return to BillyBall, so right now the best available option looks like rookie Justin Lehr. He'll be hitting the player pool in Yahoo! Sports leagues shortly, as he just made his major league debut on Sunday. He's worth a look if you've already missed out on Jason Frasor, another rookie who has come out of nowhere to anchor a bullpen.

  • Richard Hidalgo is traditionally a hot starter, which leaves his fantasy owners hoping the trend applies to fresh starts as well. Dealt to the Mets last week, Hidalgo homered Sunday to break a 52-game homerless drought. Nothing about a move to New York projects better offensive numbers for Hidalgo, but when you're dealing with a former 40-homer guy, you have to keep your eye on him.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! Sports leagues

  • Edgardo Alfonzo, SF, 3B – Only Scott Rolen has produced more RBIs from the third base position over the last month than Alfonzo. His other numbers during that period (18 runs, 4 homers, .291 average) compare favorably with anyone at the position. He's hitting behind Bonds again, which has led to a surge of 13 RBIs over his last eight games. We saw Alfonzo carry this team into the postseason a year ago, so this type of production is not unexpected.
  • Adam Eaton, SD, SP – It's difficult to find this kind of potential on the waiver wire, but that's exactly where you'll locate Eaton in most leagues after his horrid start. So far in June he's 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and an opponents' batting average under .200. If you need a spot starter in head-to-head leagues this week, you could do worse than take advantage of Eaton's two starts against the struggling Diamondbacks.

SPEED-O-METER: Checking the latest movements on the basepaths

  • Coco Crisp, Cle, OF (Sizzling on the basepaths) – Crisp victimized Atlanta catcher Johnny Estrada three times on Sunday and now has five steals in June to complement his 10-game hitting streak.
  • Alex Sanchez, Det, OF (Five in a row) – Sanchez's steal on Sunday was his fifth in a row without getting caught. He was nailed on 10 of his first 21 attempts this season.
  • Ryan Freel, Cin, 3B (Good short-term add) – Freel is doing a little bit of everything. He recorded his 11th steal on Sunday, has hit in 11 of 12 and has six runs in his last seven games.
  • Carl Crawford, TB, OF (5 steals/last 7 games) – Already at 30 for the season and hitting .325 in June. Not bad for an 11th round pick.
  • Angel Berroa, KC, SS (4 steals Saturday) – Also has three homers in his last 10 games, so maybe he'll realize that 20/20 potential after all.
  • Cesar Izturis, LA, SS (5 steals/last 10 games) – Will keep running as long as Los Angeles' anemic offense requires manager Jim Tracy to manufacture runs.
  • Jeff DaVanon, Ana, OF (Struggling for ABs) – DaVanon saw his streak of seven steals in eight games end when interleague play bumped him from the lineup. The Skinny advises holding on for at least a week.
  • Tony Graffanino, KC, 2B (5 steals in June) – Still hovering right around the Mendoza line in June, but worth a look for speed-starved fantasy owners.
  • Carlos Beltran, KC, OF (3 steals/last 8 games) – Speed surge comes on the heels of a 15-game drought. Also beginning to come alive at the plate (10 for last 24).

PROSPECT WATCH: Intriguing names down on the farm

  • David Wright, NYM, 3B (Triple-A) – ETA: August 1
    Wright homered Sunday and scored two runs to cap off his first week at the Triple-A level. With seven games in the books Wright already has nine hits and two homers. The Mets promoted their third baseman of the future after he simply wore out the Double-A Eastern League, posting 10 homers, 40 RBI and a .467 on-base percentage in 60 games. Fantasy owners have to love that he's also piled up 39 stolen bases over the last two seasons. A Wright-Matsui-Reyes dream infield should be realized soon.
  • Travis Blackley, SEA, SP (Triple-A) – ETA: August 1
    Blackley pitched a seven-inning complete game Thursday, striking out six and allowing only two hits to improve to 6-2 on the season. He currently leads the Pacific Coast League with a 2.49 ERA. If Seattle continues to struggle and Freddy Garcia is shipped out of town, Blackley could join Clint Nageotte in what looks to be a promising young rotation. The lefty won't match Nageotte's strikeout numbers (14 in first 15 big league innings) but would be a wise addition in AL-only leagues upon his recall.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Eyebrow-raising numbers
23 – Number of home runs allowed this season by Matt Morris, the man who delivered the pitch that Ken Griffey Jr. deposited for his 500th career homer on Sunday. Incredibly, 41 of the 54 runs allowed by Morris this year have scored via the longball.