Mike's Mailbag

Mike Harmon
Yahoo! SportsJune 3, 2004

We're racing toward the one-third mark of the season and the playing fields are littered with question marks. In the past two weeks, I've examined a number of players, both hot and cold, and tried to project their fantasy futures for remainder of this season. Some of these guys seemed to take it personally and busted out in short order – sometimes negative reinforcement works.

I always take the time to read your comments, opinions, questions and love to hear your thoughts for future column topics and about previous columns. And let me make it clear, all comments, positive or negative are appreciated. Everyone loves a good rant.

So, with that in mind, I've dug into the mailbag to pull out a few topics for debate:

I have had Nomar Garciaparra on my team the entire season. Is it worth keeping him or should I get rid of him?

Reid

Reid, you just can't let Nomar go. He offers too much potential productivity to release him outright. And what does it cost you to hang onto him at this point? The third-tier shortstops you'd be picking up to replace him will still be there should he re-injure his Achilles tendon.

Garciaparra is scheduled to do a rehab start at Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday night, with a likely reactivation by the big club early next week. I don't expect him to come out mashing right away, as it will serve as extended spring training. With that said, I'm looking forward to checking out the fully reassembled Red Sox lineup in person at Colorado on June 15.

On to another injured Red Sox starter …

I still have Trot Nixon on my fantasy baseball team and don't want to give him up. However, he is taking up a good outfield role. Should I stick with him? And how is he progressing?

Craig Overcash
Peoria, IL

Craig, Nixon's latest prognosis has him shelved for another couple weeks. Red Sox officials will be cautious about his return, seeing as they've done quite nicely without him and Garciaparra in the lineup. So, once he gets back onto the field, he'll be ready to roll.

Unless you're in dire need of outfield help right now and can't afford the bench spot he occupies, leave Nixon where he sits. His reinsertion into the potent Boston offense offers a potential 15 HR and 40 RBI second half of the season. If you need immediate assistance, look to Jody Gerut or Luis Matos. They'll match Nixon's power numbers for a half and steal a few bases to boot.

I have a team with one true closer, Eric Gagne. Do I trade C.C. Sabathia for Matt Herges? How long is Robb Nen going to be out for?

Matt Nash

Matt, the Giants placed Nen on the 60-day DL at the start of the season and reports give him little chance of pitching this season. It even has been speculated that his shoulder injury might shut him down for good.

That means that it's Herges' job in San Francisco, and he has converted on 16 of 19 save opportunities. His bloated ERA can be attributed to a couple of Rocky Biddle-like non-save opportunity debacles. If Gagne is your lone closer, you certainly should look to swing a deal. He's money, but 13 saves isn't going to let you compete in the category. And you can find free agent starters to match Sabathia's win total. I would imagine you'll need to sweeten the deal with a little speed or pop to get it done.

Carlos Silva: Have hitters figured him out or is he just slumping? I'm considering trading for him while he's down. Is he worth trading Greg Maddux or Cliff Lee?

Peter Arnberg

Peter, I think what you're seeing now is what you can expect from Silva for the rest of the season. He'll have success against the weaker hitting teams – note his starts against Seattle and Tampa Bay – and he'll scuffle mightily against the power lineups like the Chicago White Sox. Silva has helped himself by limiting his number of walks, but that's small consolation for his .305 BAA (Batting Average Against). He also doesn't strike anyone out.

Maddux doesn't get Ks, either. At the end of the season, I wouldn't be surprised to see Maddux's and Silva's totals looking quite similar. Lee is an intriguing option for a deal, offering the extra category of strikeouts and at the moment a lower ERA. His ability to get the big strikeout offsets his propensity to walk hitters.

How can you forget about Colorado's Joe Kennedy and Shawn Estes? They both are coming off great starts, and they are doing it at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Jeremy Schritt

Jeremy, I just mentioned the name of Shawn Estes in our Sunnyvale, Calif., office and heard quite a bit of grumbling. What we're seeing from Estes sums up his career to date. When he's on, he can compete with anybody, evidenced by his first two road starts in Arizona and Los Angeles. When he's bad, well, just look at his individual lines – 9 ER in 2.2 IP at Chicago Cubs; 8 ER in 4 IP against Florida.

He'll win his share of games during the season, especially once Preston Wilson and Larry Walker return to the lineup, but no amount of Ws will make up for the miserable ERA (5.40) and WHIP (1.54) he brings to your fantasy staff. You can play around with trying to predict his next good outing, but I'd pass altogether.

A number of readers have asked about Kennedy, and I will say that I'm sold on adding him to your fantasy pitching rotation.

The Rockies have taken care of business for him at home – 3-1 with a respectable 4.08 ERA – and he has pitched well on the road with no support – 1-2 away from home, despite a 2.90 ERA. Kennedy has had only one horrendous outing, that coming against San Diego on May 25.

I liked what you said but you missed the biggest disappointment of all the 2004 season, Jose Vidro.

Roberto Bernetich

Roberto, I agree completely. Vidro has been awful, but given the state of the Expos, I can't say I'm entirely shocked. Brad Wilkerson and Endy Chavez are failing to set the table, and Tony Batista and Orlando Cabrera don't strike fear in the hearts of many hurlers at this time. As a result, Vidro has scuffled.

With that said, even at this horrible pace, he shouldn't fall too short in the power departments. During his career, Vidro's most productive month has been June. He's 4-for-10 with a steal to start this month, so here's hoping he stays on track.

I also had several readers comment on my Sell remarks as they related to Aubrey Huff. I don't dismiss Huff's ability, but I believe he and the young Devil Rays will struggle down the stretch with the bulk of games coming against the pitching-rich teams of the AL East. Fred McGriff's arrival will not spur them to great heights.

So, I'm not advocating the outright release of Huff, but there's probably at least one owner in your league who remains salty that you plucked him away in the draft before he got a chance. I would dangle him on the trading block and see what kind of offers come your way.

That's all for now. We'll revisit the mailbag at the end of next week, so keep them coming. Be sure to include your first name and the town you're writing from.

Next time, I'll break down some of the matchups being served up in the first round of interleague play and identify some spot starts.

School's out. Time to get back to the ball yard.