On Sunday, I caught a morning flight from Seattle to the Yahoo! Sports headquarters in Santa Monica. In the scramble of packing, rushing to the airport, picking up a rental car and checking into my hotel, I forgot to move Edinson Volquez from my bench into my active lineup in time for his mouth-watering start at San Francisco. I can pretty much attribute my two-point drop in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League standings to this oversight – Volquez pitched seven innings of one-run ball, striking out 10. I'm sharing this with you because I need to vent. It's therapy. I'm pissed. This happens to me a few times a year – sometimes life gets in the way, and I don't always have my ducks in a row to the point that I've set my roster two weeks out. And, sometimes, when the perfect storm of distraction hits, I lose out on a start from one of the true breakout stars of the season (sigh!). Let's move on and take a look at some of the other breakouts that, unlike Volquez, are still available:
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
• Jair Jurrjens, Atl, SP
The main catch in the trade that sent Edgar Renteria to Detroit this offseason, Jurrjens picked up his third win of the season on Friday, allowing just two hits and three runs to the Mets in six innings of work. The 22-year-old uses mostly a mix of fastballs and curves, and he's had good success in his short time at the major league level, holding opponents to a .217 batting average. Jurrjens does a good job of keeping the ball in the park – he's allowed a home run just once every 17.1 IP on the professional level, and has been taken deep just five times in his 62 innings combined between Detroit and Atlanta. Another feather in Jurrjens' cap is his supporting offense – Atlanta owns the top batting average in the NL (.282). Owned in just 25 percent of Yahoo! default public leagues, Jurrjens warrants consideration in all 12-team leagues or deeper.
• Carlos Quentin, ChW, OF
Quentin is owned in just 22 percent of Y! leagues. Like Volquez, his career suffered through a rocky start with another team, but a trade has helped kick things into a higher gear. And, like Volquez, that uninspiring past at the big league level may be giving owners pause in adding him. If that's the case, don't let a lackluster 138 games for Arizona hold you back. Quentin was a big-time prospect coming up through the minors, delivering an OPS above .800 at every level. He makes good contact and his bat has nice pop. He hit his sixth home run on Monday, pushing him (at least momentarily) into the top 15 in home runs, RBI (20) and Runs (20). Plus, he has the ability to add 10-15 stolen bases. When production starts to come from a player with Quentin's makeup, you don't ask questions. You pick him up.
PROSPECT WATCH: Top players down on the farm
- Jeff Clement, Sea, C (ETA – early May)
If Seattle GM Bill Bavasi plans to keep his job much longer, he'd better figure out a way to get Clement into the Mariners lineup. The team leads the league in one-run losses as it sucks on the pickle that is the Mendoza Line-pushing batting averages of Richie Sexson (.207), Jose Vidro (.195) and Kenji Johjima (.197). Meanwhile, Clement, who could conceivably supplant Vidro at DH while backing up Sexson and Johjima at 1B and C, is raking at Triple-A Tacoma (.384, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 19 R, 22/12 BB:K in 22 games). The 24-year-old former No. 3 overall pick has little left to prove in the minors and his bat is clearly needed in the city some 30 miles north of where he currently resides. When Bavasi comes to his senses, Clement will bring only UTIL eligibility. But it'll probably take only a few weeks for him to add a big C next to his name. And that Catcher-eligibility will make him at least notable in most leagues.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Jayson Werth, Phi, OF (14 percent owned) – A .323, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 9 R week from Werth has given Philadelphia something to think about if Shane Victorino comes off the DL on Tuesday, as expected. But the 14 percent-owned Werth probably isn't worth a flyer in 12-team leagues or shallower given that Victorino's return almost assuredly means a drop in playing time.
Brandon Phillips, Cin, 2B (100%) – Those that follow my baseball Big Board probably noticed the sharp drop in Phillips' ranking on the last update – yes, I was starting to get a little worried. But three home runs, seven runs batted in and a stolen base over the weekend helped alleviate some concerns. He's back on course for another 30/30 run.
Fred Lewis, SF, OF (3%) – I like Lewis. His play is not going to upset the competitive balance of a fantasy league, but he's got solid, believable skills. A former three-sport start in high school who played both baseball and football for Mississippi Gulf Coast CC before teaming up with Rickie Weeks at Southern University, Lewis has the athleticism to supply serviceable speed, and a little bit of power, in fantasy. He's coming off a week in which he hit .393 with two home runs, and he's on pace to hit .333 with 12 home runs, 12 stolen bases, and 100 runs. I consider him for employment regularly in my 12-team leagues, and I'm getting closer and closer to taking the plunge.
John Lannan, Was, Sp (3%) – Lannan pitched shutout baseball for the past week, extending his scoreless streak to 19 innings. The southpaw also struck out 11 Mets on April 17 and he's delivered four quality starts in five outings, so he's been making some noise all month. But he's more finesse than power, and the strikeouts aren't going to continue to return lucrative dividends. His 14 walks in 30-plus innings have also contributed to a lofty 1.37 WHIP. I'd keep him in spot-start consideration in standard leagues, but I wouldn't use a dedicated spot on him.
Scott Dohmann, TB, RP (0%) – Dohmann gets mention here for the novelty of picking up two wins against Boston over the weekend despite pitching just one inning combined. That's efficiency.
Salomon Torres, Mil, RP (8%) – I own Torres in a few of my deeper leagues because I have a feeling that he'll be the guy Ned Yost turns to when he's had enough of Eric Gagne in the closer role. Little did I know I'd get so much value out of Torres in the interim (3 wins, 1 save, 2.08 ERA in 17.1 IP). Torres has a rubber arm and Yost has been using him in a lot of tight spots. I'm still convinced he's Gagne's heir. If you are in dire need of saves, Torres would be at the top of my list of speculative targets.
Jose Reyes, NYM, SS (100%) – In his past six games, Reyes is 2-for-26 (.077), dropping his season average to .237. It's been a tough ride, so far, for owners who used a top five pick on Reyes – he started the season with just one steal in 14 games. Reyes hit just .251 after the All-Star break last season, so it's fair to be a little concerned at this point. If you can get top 15 value for him still, it's worth considering a deal. Otherwise, you have no choice but to ride this out.
Mark Reynolds, Ari, 3B (98%) – Reynolds logged 29 at bats this past week, and he made a long walk back (strike out) to the dugout following 18 of those plate visits. He did manage to hit two more home runs, but it's safe to say the honeymoon is over for Reynolds owners.
Kevin Kouzmanoff, SD, 3B (64%) – The Kouz takes the honors for the player with the most plate appearances (32) without an extra-base hit this past week – his five singles netted him a .161 batting average for the past seven days. For the season, there have been 29 third base-eligible players that have out-produced him in Y! default leagues. And his 3:24 BB:K ratio is one of the worst in the league. He's an intriguing talent but, at this point, you can't blame owners that have chosen to cut him loose.
Brett Myers, Phi, SP (96%) – Myers has just one quality start in six outings this season, and he's coming off a horrific week that was – 12 IP, 10 ER, 1 L. Normally a power pitcher, Myers has had trouble hitting 90 mph on the radar gun of late, much to the worry of Phillies brass. So far, there's no clear reason for the dip in velocity, but it's probably wise to firmly plant Myers on the bench until positive signs re-emerge.