Closing Time: Eric Young Jr. sets the Mets’ table

Eric Young Jr. is only 28 years old, but he's been on the fantasy radar so long that it feels like maybe we should be hyping EY3. Odds are good that you've added (and dropped) Young a few times in your fantasy career. We've all done it.

Young first came to our attention in 2006 when he swiped 87 bags at Single-A Asheville. The next season, he stole 73 bases for Modesto in just 91 attempts. In 2008, he delivered 46 steals at Double-A Tulsa, then in 2009 it was 58 for Triple-A Colorado Springs. So he's a fast dude.

Over the past four-plus seasons, Young has served as a respectable part-timer for Colorado. He's been a perfectly ordinary hitter (career .261/.329/.342), but he's filled multiple spots defensively and he's been effective on the basepaths (70 steals in 90 attempts). He was off to an unimpressive start for the Rockies this year, batting just .242/.290/.352, which led to EYJ being DFA'd last week.

Young was acquired by the New York Mets via trade on Tuesday night, and the landing spot seems appealing for fantasy purposes. He hit leadoff and played center field in his Mets' debut on Wednesday, going 1-for-4 in a road loss to Atlanta. New York manager Terry Collins sounds like he intends to give EY Jr. a long look in the months ahead:

"He's a switch-hitter who we're going to probably play quite often to see what he brings to the table and see where he best fits," Collins said. "We'll pick and choose our spots for the other guys. So hopefully he brings that energy and that speed that he brought to Colorado and helps get us going offensively."


“We're hoping he brings something to the table that we haven't had since Jose [Reyes] — that guy that can get on and create runs," Collins said.

I don't want to oversell Young as a fantasy commodity, because ... well, because I've done it before. And because Young's career slash line away from Coors Field is just .211/.290/.286, in 336 at-bats. At best, EY Jr. figures to be a two-category asset, a player with high-end speed and a favorable lineup spot. He can steal bases, he can score runs, and he's only owned in two percent of Yahoo! leagues. Depending on your statistical needs, perhaps he can help. Do what you need to do.

If for some reason you're worried about competition for playing time in the Mets' outfield, I'll refer you to the team's depth chart...

Not exactly a logjam, is it?

Jose Valverde made an appearance in a non-save situation against the Orioles on Wednesday, and you can probably imagine how that went. Valverde allowed four runs on five hits, with a Chris Davis moonshot included. (Whoa. Crushed. Pure evil.) The Tigers are pretty clearly gonna be in the market for bullpen help before the deadline.

Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras celebrated his 21st birthday with a pair of hits for Triple-A Memphis, including a three-run homer. Taveras dealt with a high-ankle sprain earlier this season, delaying his progress, but he's still hitting .296 with five bombs. He should have a chance to make noise at the major league level before the end of the season.

We should note that while Taveras was binging for Memphis, Rangers prospect Mike Olt was putting up respectable numbers for the opposition. Olt went 3-for-4 for Round Rock with a double and a homer. The dinger was his fifth in his last 10 games.

Cleveland's Chris Perez was rocked in his rehab appearance on Tuesday (1.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 HR), delaying his return to the bigs. Vinnie Pestano should have the ninth for a while longer. Perez will throw a bullpen session on Friday, then he'll be re-evaluated.

Texas center-fielder Leonys Martin is stuck in the ninth spot in the batting order, which is less than ideal, but he still manages to deliver a few fantasy goodies. Martin went 2-for-3 against Tommy Milone and the A's, scoring a pair of runs, driving in one, and swiping his 12th base of the season. He's stolen a base in four of his last five games while going 8-for-16 at the plate. Martin is only seven percent owned, available to most of you.

Eric Stults took another quality turn, this time against the Giants, though he didn't get the win as the Pads fell 4-2. Stults allowed seven hits and two runs over 6.1 innings, the fifth straight start in which he's yielded two runs or less. Still, I'll stop just short of giving him a full endorsement for rest-of-season ownership. Stults has benefited from good fortune on balls-in-play, and that 5.85 K/9 won't pay the bills in leagues with IP ceilings.

Erik Bedard delivered an unexpectedly useful line in a no-decision against Milwaukee on Wednesday, striking out eight batters over 7.1 innings, yielding just four hits and one run. Bedard has given us seven good turns in his last eight starts, dating back to May 11, though this is another case where Ks typically aren't plentiful. He's back in the streaming discussion, though you won't want to mess with him against the Cards next week. (If you absolutely have to stream an Astros starter, which you don't, try Jordan Lyles against the Cubs on Sunday.)

Heath Bell earned a save on Wednesday as only he can, giving up a leadoff homer, followed by a single, followed by a walk. And then he retired the next three batters he faced. Of course he did. LONG MAY HEATH BELL REIGN!

Chase Utley (oblique) finally made a rehab appearance on Wednesday, going 0-for-4 at Double-A Reading. He suffered no setbacks and later said he played "with no reservations." Here's a rather significant note from the Inquirer's postgame recap:

Meanwhile, scouts from at least three organizations watched from behind home plate. The Yankees could be enticed to put together a deal for Utley. New York is playing without injured first baseman Mark Teixeira and third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

One major-league scout who asked to remain anonymous named the Yankees among potential suitors if the Phillies decide to sell by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

So that's not really the best news for those of us who own Utley in N.L.-only. But at least Chase is returning soon.

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