WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- It's not a slight to say that Cole Hamels debut on Friday didn't match the hype. After all, Hamels allowed just one hit in five shutout innings of Cincinnati in the first outing of his major-league career. But the buzz build-up leading up to this outing had reached mountainous proportions, to the point that anything short of a complete-game, 10-plus K, shutout effort would have left some wanting. But hype is not Hamels worry. And by any barometer, his no-decision against the Reds was very impressive.
Adam Dunn, who was 0-for-1 with a walk versus Hamels, was tired of hearing about Hamels before he faced him. "Geez, you can't help but hear about it," Dunn said. "I hear he's the next Cy Young. What did he have, a minus-7 ERA in the minors? We were scared to death … Why don't they pay him $150 million, tell him thanks for all you've done, send him home and put him in the Hall of Fame right now?" But pressed about what he actually saw from Hamels, Dunn admitted he was impressed. "He was pretty good," Dunn said. "The ball gets on you pretty quickly. He was effectively wild." Hamels walked five, but struck out seven. Cincy manager Jerry Narron also came away with kind words about the Philly phenom: "He threw some good change-ups that guys swung at out of the zone. He has a good fastball, with some late movement. He has the chance to be an outstanding pitcher."
Despite the big build up, not all fantasy owners have clued into Hamels' electric stuff. He became available on waivers in Yahoo! leagues on Friday, but he'd been added in less than 10 percent of leagues by Sunday evening. Consider yourself fortunate if you are in a league where Hamels is still available. But before you reflect on that, make haste to the waiver wire to pick him up.
- Another highly anticipated debut is on the horizon. While it's not even close to his first major league appearance, Francisco Liriano is scheduled to make his '06 starting debut this Friday. Liriano has been toiling in middle relief while Minnesota's starters have turned the base paths into a merry-go-round for opposing offenses. With 32 Ks to just 4 BBs in 22.1 IP, and a solid change-up in his repertoire, Liriano has often been compared to staff ace Johan Santana. Liriano can still be had in 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but his availability is shrinking fast as news of his starting gig gets around
- Notable injury updates: Debuts being the vogue topic, Kerry Wood will make his '06 Chicago debut on Thursday against the Nationals. He's expected to be on a tight pitch count coming off his shoulder problems … Bartolo Colon has had a couple bullpen sessions and is set to throw a simulated game before going out on a minor league rehab assignment. The Angels still have been hesitant to offer a timetable for his return, however … Ben Sheets' shoulder did land him on the DL, after speculation here last week that it might. He is eligible to return Thursday but hasn't been throwing and it's unclear just when he might be back. "I'm not a mind reader and I'm not a fortune teller," manager Ned Yost said. "When he gets better he'll be better. He's in the training room and they're doing what they're doing to him every day. It's an inflammation, and it takes time to heal, to un-inflame." Un-inflame? … Sean Casey believes he can return sooner than expected from his back injury. Said Casey of a possible early June return: "I don't see why not. If I continue to feel like I do … it's just a matter of pain or no pain. Right now, there's no pain." … Ian Kinsler, who got off to a hot start in Texas before injuring his thumb, is expected to return this week. However, given the hot bat of fill-in Mark DeRosa, there is no guarantee that Kinsler will get his full-time gig back – at least not right away … A.J. Burnett (elbow) has started light throwing and the hope is that his rehab progresses well enough for him to return mid-to-late June … John Patterson hasn't returned from tightness in his forearm nearly as fast as was expected. Instead of returning on his original target date of May 13, it now appears that the new timetable is for June 1.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Jose Lopez, Sea, 2B
With a two-run HR on Sunday, Lopez pushed his RBI total to 28, tops among second basemen. He's hitting a ridiculous .410 with runners in scoring position, which probably won't last. But he has a healthy 39 ABs with RISP, and those opportunities could continue to be healthy given that he follows Ichiro in the lineup. Lopez doesn't walk much, but he makes good contact. He has the raw tools that scouts have projected could equate into an above-average hitting middle infielder. He's available in more than 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues despite the fact that he's been a top 10 fantasy second baseman to date.
PROSPECT WATCH: Top players down on the farm
- Dallas McPherson, LAA, 3B (ETA – Now)
With both Darin Erstad and Casey Kotchman landing on the DL this week, the Angels recalled McPherson's power bat. The third baseman had a team-high eight HRs for the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees, but was hitting just .235. There is no question about McPherson's ability to launch the ball out of the park, but he's also a prolific whiff artist, as evidenced by his 49 Ks in 26 games for the Bees. Since being called back up, he's fanned five times in 11 ABs. While McPherson's power deserves attention, another Salt Lake Bee could be called up soon if McPherson ends flailing – Kendry Morales. The Cuban first basemen is hitting .289 at Triple A and his bat is considered major-league ready.
Yahoo! Experts League Update
Bitter is my mood as my Y!–Funston squad had to look on with the No. 2 waiver spot as FantasyGuru–Pianowski had poll position for claiming Cole Hamels. I remain in the middle of the pack as we all still look up to RotoWire_Liss, who sits 14 points above second-place FantasyGuru–Maltais. Liss and Pianowski executed a trade this week, with Pianowski unloading Randy Johnson and Ryan Dempster for Liss' Jose Contreras and Dave Roberts.