Greetings from the Pacific Northwest. The Skinny is checking in from Portland this week. While it's always tough managing fantasy teams from the road, the trek north did provide an excuse to take in a game at charming PGE Park, home of the Triple-A Portland Beavers. In addition to a where-are-they-now sighting of Bo Hart, the game provided a glimpse of a couple Major League prospects. We'll discuss those guys later, but first a look at what unfolded on big league diamonds over the weekend.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- Remember Marlon Byrd? Baseball America projected him as a possible 30-30 guy when they named him the top prospect in the Phillies organization in 2002. He drew comparisons to Kirby Puckett, partially because he gained some weight after a college injury, but also because he brought a powerful but compact stroke to the plate. After he hit .303 as a rookie, it looked like a Byrd, Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu outfield would be a mainstay in Philly for years to come. That was before a horrible slump in 2004 forced him out of the lineup entirely. Byrd's on-base percentage sagged to .287 as a sophomore, prompting the Phils to pursue free agent Kenny Lofton in the offseason.
Could a change-of-scenery trade have landed Byrd back on the fantasy radar? Maybe. He was dealt to Washington last week in exchange for Endy Chavez. Byrd had three hits in his Nationals debut, a pair of singles two nights later and RBIs in each of Washington's weekend games. Is he worth a roster position in NL-only leagues? Probably not yet. Byrd is currently in a platoon situation with Ryan Church. He's only guaranteed to start against lefties, but he can force manager Frank Robinson's hand with continued production. As for Chavez, he's stuck behind Lofton, who was activated from the DL on Friday.
- Speaking of signs of life, Jermaine Dye is enjoying a resurgence for a White Sox team desperate for production from the middle of its lineup. Dye homered on Sunday to make it a hat trick against the Cubs. In his past seven games, the former Oakland slugger is 9-for-21 with four homers, three doubles, six runs and six RBIs. Dye basically carried the A's to a division title in 2001, but hit no better than .265 in the three injury-plagued seasons that followed. After a horrible May, most fantasy owners cut him loose. Now would be a good time to add him to your watch list, at the very least. Home run streaks have been popular in 2005, so Dye might just be getting warmed up.
- Though he is San Diego's top pitching prospect, Tim Stauffer projects as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter according to Baseball America. For fantasy owners, that's not much to get excited about. Still, the 21-year-old was sharp enough in his first two Major League starts to garner some attention in Yahoo! leagues. The knock on Stauffer is that he lacks an out pitch, and that was evident in Seattle as the Mariners battered him for seven hits and four runs in 5.2 innings on Sunday. He'll start again against San Francisco this week, an outing NL-only managers should watch closely while deciding whether to give this rookie a shot.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Angel Berroa, SS, KC
After The Skinny predicted a bounce-back season for Berroa in 2005, the former rookie standout set out to prove me wrong. Berroa hit .247 in May, causing all but the most loyal fantasy owners to jump ship. That ship may be back on course. Berroa collected three hits on Sunday to extend his hitting streak to eight games. In 12 games as Kansas City's leadoff hitter, Berroa is 19-for-48 (.396) with 12 runs scored. With three homers in his past 15 games, it appears that the power stroke may be slowly returning. He slumped to eight homers in 2004 after hitting 17 as a rookie.
- Wes Obermueller, SP, Mil
This may be the ultimate buy-high pickup, but few National League pitchers are as dialed in as Obermueller right now. On Tuesday, he retired the first 19 Washington batters he faced before allowing a single to Jamey Carroll. He was denied a perfect game, but eight innings of two-hit ball was good enough for his first win of the season. He was nearly as sharp on Sunday, holding Minnesota to one run and three hits in six innings.
PROSPECT WATCH: Top players down on the farm
- Josh Barfield, 2B, SD (ETA – September)
If you followed the Major League career of slugger Jessie Barfield, it should come as no surprise that his son is a top prospect projected to produce 20-25 home runs annually from the second base position. He wouldn't go deep in Sunday's doubleheader, but he did chase Memphis' center fielder to the warning track in Game 1. He would finish 2-for-6 for the afternoon, raising his average a few ticks to .234. That average is the organization's primary concern. Though he drove in 90 runs and slugged 18 homers in 2004, he hit just .248. He'll have to push that total toward .280 in 2005 to earn a September call-up.
- Adam Wainwright, SP, StL (ETA – September)
Truth be told, rain chased The Skinny from PGE Park before Wainwright toed the rubber for Game 2 of the doubleheader. Weathering the storm afforded fans a look at the top pitching prospect acquired from Atlanta in the J.D. Drew trade. He wasn't all that sharp, by all accounts, allowing two solo homers and four total runs in 5.1 innings of work. The loss dropped his record to 4-2, but his ERA remained a solid 2.26.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Damon Hollins, CF, TB – Batting third in manager Lou Piniella's lineup, Hollins went 3-5 on Sunday with a homer and two RBI. It was the third straight start with a homer for Hollins, who hit 20 homers in 109 games for Atlanta's Triple-A Richmond team in 2004.
Casey Fossum, SP, TB – Since joining the starting rotation, Fossum has 12 strikeouts in 10 innings with a respectable WHIP of 1.20.
Jeff Conine, OF/1B, Fla – Conine collected two hits on Sunday and is now 8-for-15 in his past four starts. A consummate utility man, Conine will find his name on the lineup card somewhere as long as the hits keep coming.
Aaron Hill, DH, Tor – He's played two games as DH and one at third base, but many within the Toronto organization feel that Hill is the team's shortstop of the future. Since being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse, where he was hitting .301 with five homers, Hill has six hits in 12 at bats.
Jody Gerut, OF, Cle – After batting .438 during a minor league rehab assignment, Gerut was recalled by the Indians and immediately inserted into the starting lineup. He is 5-for-12 since coming back, though the rest of the Cleveland lineup remains dormant.
Felipe Lopez, 3B/SS, Cin – With two hits on Sunday, Lopez has reached safely in 16 of 20 games this month, a stretch that includes three home runs, two steals and eight multi-hit games.
Mark Redman, SP, Pit – In his past two starts, Redman has completed 15.1 innings, allowing only eight hits and two walks while uncharacteristically striking out 11. Each of his nine starts this year classify statistically as quality outings.
David Eckstein, SS, StL – He scored 100 runs in 2002 and might make a run at that figure in 2005 if he maintains his current pace. In his past 14 games, Eckstein is batting .377 with 13 runs scored.
Kris Benson, SP, NYM – In his past 13.2 innings, Benson has allowed only seven hits while striking out 11. Both starts were comfortable Mets wins.
Danys Baez, RP, TB – Though he responded with a solid outing on Thursday, Baez blew back-to-back save chances last week and has converted only four of seven opportunities in 2005.
Dustan Mohr, OF, Col – Though he homered on Tuesday, Mohr is having a hard time finding regular at bats in the crowded Colorado outfield. He sat on Sunday and is 0-for-8 since homering against the Giants.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Eyebrow-raising numbers
.343 The batting average that opponents are hitting against Cincinnati starter Paul Wilson, who is sitting on a 7.77 ERA and is getting skipped a turn in the rotation so he can sort things out. Teammate Eric Milton leads the league with 15 HRs allowed and has allowed a .307 batting average against. If you have players that will face these two in a three game series, make sure to get them in there.