I'm not one of those fantasy owners who dreams of a superstar-laden roster from A to Z. For my money the true joy of the game is picking players up, getting production out of unexpected sources, massaging the roster, making a shrewd pickup here or a lucky grab there. No-name production is more fun than brand-name production.
The speedy Borbon has only spent 10 games with the Rangers this year but they've been packed with mad production: 16-for-33 at the dish, with nine runs, a homer, seven RBIs and a beautiful 8-for-8 on the bases. Ron Washington seems prepared to ride this hot hand for as long as it lasts; even with Nelson Cruz(notes) back in the Texas lineup Thursday against Minnesota, Borbon stayed in the lineup and posted a juicy 5-2-3-3 line (with a homer) from the leadoff spot. Look for Borbon to continue to start against right-handed pitching until he gives the Rangers a reason to do something different; Washington was hinting at a Borbon/Andruw Jones(notes) platoon at DH before Thursday's game (which would have the kid playing most of the time over the long haul).
Okay, Borbon isn't this good – no one is. We all get that. But it's not like he didn't impress in Triple-A (.311 average, .372 on-base percentage, along with 70 runs and 25 steals over 95 games), and Borbon might be more efficient in the majors if he isn't asked to face lefties. Batting leadoff for the Rangers is a pretty good gig, especially when we're looking at Arlington dates in the dog days of August. Washington obviously feels good letting the kid run wild on the bases. There's some category juice here.
There's just one downer to consider, the weekend schedule doesn't look Borbon friendly up front – Texas faces Scott Kazmir(notes) Friday and David Price(notes) Sunday. But it's not like either of those lefties is a good bet to work more than 5-6 innings (Borbon could make a late appearance), and Borbon surely will start Saturday against Matt Garza(notes). In most deep mixers, this is a guy that needs to at least be on a roster.
• Jarrod Washburn's(notes) fly-ball tendencies haven't played well with the Tigers to this point; he allowed four homers to woeful Seattle Thursday and has already yielded eight round-trippers since joining Detroit four turns ago. After watching the M's knock Washburn around here, I don't see how you can give him a go against dangerous Anaheim next week.
• The starting pitcher market gets especially dicey at this time of year as non-contending clubs start to talk about shutdown mode. That's probably what we're going to see in San Diego with right-handed gem Mat Latos(notes); Bud Black has cleared the youngster to make his Tuesday start in Atlanta but it's possible Latos will go on the shelf for the final month of the year. Latos worked 59 innings back in 2008, and he's logged 109.2 innings this year. It's not like Latos gets a ticket to Bermuda to occupy his time, of course. GM Kevin Towers still wants Latos around the club in September so he can throw on the side and "become a student of the game."
The Padres rotation could become a real skeleton crew if Cesar Carrillo(notes) and Tim Stauffer(notes) get the same kid-glove treatment. Carrillo isn't far removed from Tommy John surgery and Stauffer was out of the game last year recovering from shoulder surgery.
• Every so often we'll check in with the Amazin'
Mess Mets, just for the heck of it. Livan Hernandez(notes) was cut by the club Thursday, setting up Tim Redding(notes) to take a turn on the weekend. Nothing to see here, keep moving right along. Gary Sheffield(notes) remains in limbo; depending on who you talk to, he might be refusing to play, taking a few days off, or on the cusp of a release. Sheffield was originally expected to start Thursday but he apparently yanked himself from the card, upset that GM Omar Minaya isn't prepared to offer him an extension.
Billy Wagner(notes) was the lone highlight in Thursday's loss to Atlanta, returning to New York and working a perfect eighth inning and striking out two. There's still power in that left arm of his; he reached the mid-90s with his fastball.
Injury Blog: Justin Morneau's(notes) inner ear infection is no small affair; he left the club Thursday so he could be examined by a specialist. "At times I start to feel better and then it comes back again," Morneau told the team's official site. … Justin Upton(notes) (oblique) will probably start a rehab assignment at Single-A on Monday. … Nick Johnson(notes) cheated his injury history for most of the year but it's caught up to him of late; a balky hamstring will keep him out until at least Sunday and it's possible he'll need to go on the disabled list. The Marlins have some nicks on the other corner, with Jorge Cantu(notes) resting a sore neck. … Joey Votto(notes) (eye) returned to action Thursday and went 0-for-4, but a sore wrist forced Brandon Phillips(notes) to the bench prematurely. … Freddy Sanchez(notes) (shoulder) might be able to go for the Giants Friday. … Akinori Iwamura(notes) (knee) had a productive day at Triple-A (one hit, three walks, two runs), an encouraging sign after he had a setback earlier in the week. … Jason Varitek(notes) has a sore neck and hasn't played for three games, which means the Red Sox get to keep Victor Martinez(notes) behind the plate. Works for us. … Edwin Encarnacion(notes) (knee) was forced out of Thursday's game early. … Garret Anderson(notes) has a sore back and left early at Citi Field.
Speed Round: Another homer for Jayson Werth(notes) Thursday and once again it was to dead-center in Philadelphia. That guy sure loves messing up the shrubbery. … It's been an interesting first two days for Drew Stubbs(notes) in Cincinnati: 2-for-9, a homer, five strikeouts. He was striking out a lot in Triple-A (102 whiffs in 106 games), but he also was 46-for-54 on the bases; in other words he'll do fine as a Willy Taveras(notes) replacement. … Jim Johnson(notes) worked hard for the money (four outs) and is now 3-for-3 since George Sherrill(notes) left town. … Speaking of workload cases, the Yankees are calling for Joba Chamberlain(notes) to make six more starts in the regular season, though pitching coach Dave Eiland says there's "a little wiggle room" at the end of the season if the Yanks are in position to line their rotation up for October. … Cruz hit homer No. 26 in his Arlington return, much to the delight of Ellis Bradley Evans. I'm sure Brad will chime in when he's done with his victory lap.