The Baltimore Orioles have a long-term rebuilding plan in mind. Corey Patterson(notes) surely isn't part of that plan. But what does the team do when a recycled veteran like Patterson becomes one of its few reliable offensive players?
Patterson gave us some stats on Monday, collecting a double, a steal and a run scored in Baltimore's loss at Detroit. He's been a fantasy monster over the last 25 days, checking in as a top-10 outfielder in fantasy baseball (.344 average, 14 runs, 11 steals). Yahoo! owners have been skeptical to buy into Patterson – he's owned in just five percent of leagues as we head to post on Tuesday. But why should we care about the source of the stats so long as the production is there?
Patterson's gig in left field should be coming to a close when Felix Pie(notes) returns on Tuesday, and that's a logical move for a team in Baltimore's position. Pie is just 25 (Patterson turns 31 next month) and still has time to cash in on his pedigree; maybe he'll be an integral part of Baltimore's next winning club. The remainder of the season should be about the development and evaluation of younger players, in theory. And if vets like Patterson and Ty Wigginton(notes) have any trade buzz circling around them over the next four weeks, the team would be wise to consider a liquidation sale.
That established, Patterson has played well enough that he'll probably keep the leadoff spot even with Pie's return; it initially looked like Juan Samuel was prepared to use Pie in that role, but he's recently backed off on that idea. Patterson can still find regular at-bats as a DH (remember Luke Scott(notes) is out) and as an outfield fill-in when one of the regulars needs a rest. And given that Pie has been injury-prone for much of his career, we can't really assume that he'll step into the mix right away and prove to be reliable.
Add it all up and what do you get? A fantasy scribe trying to talk you into Corey Patterson, at least as a short-term answer. Stats are stats, bags are useful, and even though Patterson's BB:K rate is looming ominously like a dark cloud, I'm content to keep this guy in a few deep mixers. Cheap speed always has a place in our game, and I like the extra volume that comes from someone in the leadoff spot. My leash will be short with Patterson – the Orioles probably feel the same way – but this really is someone who should be owned in more than five percent of our universe right now. What's your worry, gamers?
• Maybe there's a pitcher more frustrating to watch (and to own) than Boston's Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes), but I can't think of who that would be. You've probably seen the act by now. Dice-K fixes his hat; shakes off a sign; nibbles around the strike zone; piles up the pitches. He'll tease us with a good outing now and again (recall his no-hit bid at Philadelphia?), and then let us down less than a week later (his Philly gem was followed by an eight-walk nightmare against the Royals).
Matsuzaka struggled at Tampa Bay on Monday, squandering an early lead and ultimately settling for a no-decision (5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K). He's got all sorts of quirky secondary stats if you look under the hood : a 3.5 rate of HR/FB is absolutely unsustainable; batters are routinely squaring the ball against him (23.4 line-drive rate); and you're going to have a devil of a time being successful when you're striking out just 1.5 batters per every walk. Add it all up and there's no way I'm owning this guy so long as he's pitching in Boston, in the toughest division in the majors. I'll reopen the case if and when he's working for a National League club. Call him the Tumbling Dice.
• The Alcides Escobar(notes) mess continues in Milwaukee – he's made three critical errors in the last two games (both losses), and he was also picked off first base on Monday, a terrible mistake when you consider that Dave Bush(notes) was at the plate at the time, attempting to bunt. Ken Macha announced Monday night that Escobar will get a couple of days off over the balance of the week, a move that makes sense – Escobar's head just isn't in the game right now.
Not many of the Brewers distinguished themselves in the series-opening defeat to the Giants. Milwaukee constantly had Jonathan Sanchez(notes) in trouble (11 baserunners and three wild pitches over six innings) but were only able to score one run, and the Brewers didn't do a thing against the San Francisco bullpen. Bush had to settle for a no-decision despite six respectable innings (5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K); he's built up some streaming goodwill in the fantasy world over the last few weeks, which probably means we'll look to him on the weekend and he'll throw batting practice again. Dave Bush is never a long-term answer, just a temporary one.
• Mike Pelfrey(notes) continues to limp to the first-half finish line – the Reds knocked him for seven runs on Monday. He's now allowed 21 runs over his last five turns, with a mediocre nine strikeouts against 11 walks. You probably should rest him on the weekend when he faces the Braves.
• If you can figure out Carlos Quentin(notes), maybe it's time to move into more lucrative endeavors, like picking lottery numbers. He's clubbed 10 homers over the past five weeks (including two on Monday) after a horrendous opening quarter, but the homer binge in June was surrounded by a lot of curious stats – his strikeout rate went up, his line-drive rate went down, and his ground-ball rate went up. His HR/FB clip was rich in June, as you'd expect, but Quentin wasn't lucky anywhere else, carrying a mere .231 average on balls in play. Looking at the last two years, Quentin is starting to look more and more like a three-category player, someone that can give us power and runs scored but will be a drain in the other two standard categories. Home runs generally carry clout in trade talks, and with that in mind, now is probably a good time to peddle his recent power surge.
• The Diamondbacks trailed all the way in Monday's defeat to Chicago, but nonetheless Kirk Gibson gave Chad Qualls(notes) and Juan Gutierrez(notes) an inning of work each at the end of the game. Qualls was sharp in the eighth inning (1-2-3, two strikeouts) but Gutierrez didn't have it, allowing a single, homer and walk. If you need to speculate on this team's sketchy bullpen for the second half, I'd recommend Qualls first, and maybe Sam Demel(notes) second. Context clues suggest that Gibson isn't the biggest fan of Aaron Heilman(notes), and while the club supposedly has big plans for Gutierrez, he's had season-long issues with home runs (a whopping 11) and control.
• The Marlins didn't have any trouble getting to John Ely(notes) (2.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 5 R), and that's the fourth time in six starts that Ely has hurt his fantasy investors. This is what a No. 4 or No. 5 starter looks like – in the mixed-league world, Ely is nothing past a matchup play. While Ely deserves credit for being around the strike zone so often, sometimes that's to his detriment given the ordinary stuff he has. He'll end the first half with a home start against the Cubs.
Handshakes: Make it 16 save conversions in a row for Joakim Soria(notes), though he had to work around a hit and a walk at Seattle. He's got 23 saves in all, tops in the AL. … Francisco Cordero(notes) got to that number for the Reds on Monday, retiring three of four men at Citi Field. He's currently carrying a bloated 1.49 WHIP and an unimpressive 3.92 ERA, but hat least he's grabbing the one stat we ask from him. … Sergio Santos(notes) picked up a rogue save against the Angels, putting the last four men down without incident. He's going to be something in a year or two as his command improves; keep in mind he's a converted shortstop. … The Rays are getting their money's worth from Rafael Soriano(notes). He's got 22 saves in 23 chances, to go with a tidy 1.42 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. He's only walked five men for the season. … Mariano Rivera(notes) rebounded from his Sunday misstep, setting the Athletics aside on 10 pitches. … Leo Nunez's(notes) five blown saves might make you a little nervous, but the rest of his numbers look decent: 35 strikeouts, just five walks, only one homer allowed. He worked a perfect ninth at Chavez Ravine.
Injury Blog: The surging Matt LaPorta(notes) homered again on Monday but then injury struck – he collided with Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus(notes) and was diagnosed with a head contusion. A CT scan came back negative and the club doesn't think this is a major issue; Manny Acta called the CT scan a precautionary measure. … A cranky lower back forced Aaron Harang(notes) to be a last-second scratch at New York on Monday. He's hoping to start the second game of the series. … Zach Duke(notes) (elbow) began his minor-league rehab work on Monday and should be able to rejoin the Bucs for the opening of the second half. … Coco Crisp(notes) (hamstring) was back at it Monday, going 0-for-3 with an RBI against the Yanks. … Jorge Posada(notes) (finger) might need to rest a couple of more days. … Manny Ramirez(notes) (hamstring) might open a rehab assignment near the end of the week. He's first eligible to return to the Dodgers on July 15. … Juan Uribe(notes) has been playing through a finger injury of late, which might explain his 0-for-21 funk at the plate. … Chase Utley(notes) (thumb surgery) thinks he can return in 6-7 weeks, as opposed to the high-side timetable of eight weeks. It's nice to hear but it's a common refrain; no one ever claims they'll be back later than expected. … Yovani Gallardo(notes) (oblique) will be held out of the All-Star game and might need a brief DL stint. It's a shame he'll probably miss his Saturday turn; the Pirates are on the schedule, and it's Cerveceros Day at Miller Park.
Speed Round: Jayson Nix(notes) has settled in as Cleveland's second-base regular and he clubbed a couple of homers at Arlington on Monday. He's not a bad temporary fill-in if you need some infield depth in a deeper group; Nix qualifies at three spots and has some power and speed to offer (though he'll likely be a batting-average drain). … Roy Halladay(notes) was at his best against the Braves on Monday, needing just 93 pitches (68 strikes) to secure his 10th victory. Doc allowed a first-inning homer to Chipper Jones(notes), then posted bagels the rest of the way. Derek Lowe(notes) was solid but took the loss on the other side, despite his fourth quality start in five turns. … According to Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse, the Twins are making a strong push to land Cliff Lee(notes), reportedly offering catching prospect Wilson Ramos(notes) and outfielder prospect Aaron Hicks.
It's strange to see Javier Vazquez(notes) carrying a 5.16 ERA on the road – conventional wisdom suggests that his biggest problems would be at Yankee Stadium – but he didn't have any problems at Oakland on Monday (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K). He'll pitch against Seattle (and Felix Hernandez(notes)) on Saturday. … Everyone knows Joey Votto(notes) should be an All-Star, and he reminded us as such on Monday, homering twice and whacking a double at New York. … B.J. Upton(notes) didn't start Monday and wasn't particularly thrilled about it. He wound up scoring the game-deciding tally as a pinch-runner. … We started the article with a Patterson and let's end it with a Patterson. Boston's Eric Patterson(notes), the younger brother of Corey, homered twice and had a double in Monday's loss at Tampa. The Red Sox have a host of injuries right now, as you know, so Kid Patterson should get a chance to stick in the lineup for a few weeks.