WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- Rich Harden is beginning to draw comparisons to Chicago Cubs glass vase Kerry Wood. In his first start in over a month on June 8th, Harden sprained a ligament in his right elbow, landing him back on the 15-day DL, with no timetable set for his return. Adding insult to injury, Harden said he felt the twinge in his elbow in the third inning, but continued to pitch, amazingly recording three strikeouts in the fourth. Oakland manager Ken Macha added, "Its mind boggling he was still throwing 97 mph after the injury." Similar to A.J. Burnett's elbow woes that have sidelined him for nearly a month and a half, the worst-case scenario has Harden out 2-3 months. Thankfully, A's trainer Larry Davis called the injury "non-surgical."
For Mr. Disappointment, this is his second trip to the infirmary this season. Sporting a dynamite 8.74 K/9 mark and .197 BAA in 35 IP, Harden is a frustrating super talent to own. Send him to the dugout in deeper leagues and consider other alternatives in 10-team or smaller formats. In his place, look for Kirk Sarloos to continue to get ample starts in the A's rotation, making him a reasonable SP6 for AL-only owners.
- Forget the Rocket, just call Roger Clemens Senor Taco. In his second rehab start with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, the future Hall of Famer struck out 11 and scattered a measly two hits in six scoreless innings. The double-digit strikeout performance scored free tacos for the 9,000-plus capacity crowd. "I felt fatigued, basically, after my warm-ups, when I went out for my very first inning," Clemens said. "I got what would amount to a second wind and I was on my way." Can you imagine what he will do once he regains full stamina? His next start will be this Friday at Triple-A Round Rock, before facing the Minnesota Twins June 21st. Expect the 43-year-old to be a Top-10 fantasy starter over the rest of the season.
- The Canadian goose, Eric Gagne, appears to be cooked. Last Tuesday, he again irritated the ulnar nerve in his right elbow after nailing down a save against the Mets. Over the past few days, Gagne has complained of significant discomfort when raising his arms in the throwing motion. "As long as I can feel anything, I can't throw," he said. "When the nerve is irritated, it has to go away completely. Its just time, but we don't know how long it will take." The three-time All-Star is expected to hit the 15-day DL on Tuesday.
Just when you thought things were heading in the right direction, Gagne kicks your bullpen right in the shorts. With a vague timetable, the prognosis of Gagne making a major impact on your fantasy team this season seems minimal. If Takashi Saito was dropped in your league, pick him up immediately. His 41:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio and four saves in 31.2 IP this season points to continued success as a stopper. As of Sunday night, he was still available in nearly 69 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Danys Baez has a slight shot at save opportunities, but his .277 BAA is very unattractive. Saito is another reminder why you should never, ever, pay heavily for saves in your draft.
- Other notable injury updates: Another week, another Kerry Wood turn on the DL. Riding the pine due to stiffness in his shoulder, the Cubs vet bizarrely claims that he is "not injured," adding, "I didn't hurt anything. It's just something that comes along with having shoulder surgery." Absentmindedly, Wood forgot to mention "and having a manager named Dusty Baker" … The Batman of the underachieving Cubs injury-laden duo, Mark Prior is expected to make one more rehab start for Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday, returning to the rotation on June 19th. In his last start on June 8th, his fastball peaked at 91 MPH, as he worked five scoreless innings for Double-A West Tennessee. Consider this your last chance to buy low … Yankee powerhouse Gary Sheffield will be out until at least September after surgery to repair his wrist. George Steinbrenner will surely chase a marquee name very soon. Could Alfonso Soriano return to Gotham … Los Angeles Angels buffet closer Bartolo Colon is expected to return a week later than originally diagnosed from shoulder inflammation. Halos pitching coach Bud Black mentioned that Colon's fastball velocity during his rehab stint was "in the low 90s, topping out at 94, and his changeup and breaking pitches have been good." Owners in weekly leagues might want to keep him benched for one more week … Marlins rookie sensation Josh Willingham missed the entire weekend slate against the San Diego Padres due to a strained left hand. Florida manager Joe Girardi stated, "We're just making sure that it's nothing more than what you think it is. If everything comes out all right, which I think it will, we'll give him a few days off here and play him when we get back to Florida." The Marlins return home to face Atlanta on Tuesday, but Willingham isn't likely to be penciled in until Wednesday … Astros ace Roy Oswalt is confident he will start on Wednesday after two weeks off due to back spasms. Oswalt assuredly noted, "I have five more starts before the All-Star break, so I need to win all those." Now that's drool inspiring stuff for any Oswalt owner. If his bullpen session on Monday is flawless, expect the big O to return to the mound as planned.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Jeremy Hermida, Fla, OF
Finally, this fish has jumped out of a pool fit for an elderly water aerobics class. The 23-year-old phenom – seemingly going on 90 – was activated on May 22nd after missing 36 games with a hip injury. Hermida, who could still easily contend for NL Rookie of the Year, is the most talented player you likely forgot about. Blessed with a watchful eye that collected 111 walks at Double-A Carolina last year, he is batting .321 in June. Hitting sixth in Joe Girardi's young lineup, he should finish with double-digits in homers and steals, while driving in ample runs batting behind table-setters Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla and slugger Miguel Cabrera. Rostered on a mere 13 percent of Yahoo! leagues, hit the add button without haste in mixed-format leagues of 12 teams or larger.
PROSPECT WATCH: Top players down on the farm
- Enrique Gonzalez, Ari, SP, (ETA: Now)
The D-Backs Minor League Pitcher of the Year in '04, E-Gon has an arsenal that can vaporize opposing offenses, and little green ghosts. Showcasing a 16:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15 IP this year, he is a command freak with a fastball that peaks in the mid-90s. In 10 starts at Triple-A Tucson, he totaled an impressive 2.24 ERA and a respectable 1.24 WHIP. With Juan Cruz out with a shoulder injury, Gonzalez will slide into the Arizona rotation once again, starting on Tuesday against San Francisco. A must add in all NL-only and deep mixed leagues, the talented hurler will be a quality-start machine with adequate strikeouts in Cruz's absence. Consider him a terrific short-term option that should remain in the rotation with a series of strong performances.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Brad Penny, LAD, SP – Forged from gold over the last 30 days, Penny has totaled a spotless 5-0 record, 1.56 ERA and a microscopic 1.08 WHIP. He has not allowed a run in his last 14.1 IP. Outside of Brandon Webb, he is the best pitcher in the NL.
Oliver Perez, Pit, SP – After tantalizing us with three straight quality starts in late May, the one-year anomaly has regressed, giving up 14 earned runs in his past five innings. He is completely dead to me.
Yahoo! Experts League Update
Yahoo! is representing with three of the top five teams – Roming in third (74.5), Funston in fourth (74) and Buser in fifth (68) – but RotoWire_Liss continues to have a stranglehold on the F&F League, with a 7.5-point lead over KFFL–Anderson. The league's most active – FantasyGuru–Pianowski – was quick to nab Takashi Saito this past weekend. Other recent pickups include Ian Snell, Casey Janssen, Reed Johnson, Francisco Cordero and Jeremy Accardo.