Success in this mixed-league fantasy racket is all about churning the bottom 20 percent of your roster, looking for hidden values and possible spikers. Don't get too hung up on the names, don't be afraid to make a messy pickup now and then. And with that in mind, it's time to put Marcus Thames(notes) under the microscope.
The book on Thames is well-known by now. He's a power station against left-handed pitching (.541 slugging, .867 OPS) but far less interesting against righties; put a northpaw on the mound against Thames and he drops off 28 batting-average points and almost 100 OPS points. That said, there's something intriguing about a player who goes deep once every 14.5 at-bats, and Thames knocked a couple out of the park Friday in Detroit's rain-shortened victory over the Brewers (giving him four homers in a week).
The Tigers have been begging for another power hitter in the middle of the lineup – that's why Magglio Ordonez(notes) isn't playing right now – and you get the idea Thames will get a shot at regular time over the balance of the month. Let's give him some run and see if anything sticks. Hitting behind Miguel Cabrera(notes) helps the cause, and Comerica Park isn't the death sentence for hitters that it's mistaken to be – over the last three seasons, it's played out slightly more favorable than the average American League park (hat tip, Bill James Handbook).
• There was an adjustment period for Matt Holliday(notes) in the AL and his first month was a train wreck, but let's give credit where it's due – he's been a five-category guy for the last seven weeks (.297, 30 runs, 7 homers, 26 RBIs, 8 steals). Put me in a mixed-league redraft tomorrow and I'll make sure Holliday doesn't get past the third round. And keep in mind he's getting it done despite the home park that he toils in; if Holliday gets moved at the trade deadline, and there's probably a 30-40 percent chance that he will, any new location figures to push his value up a little bit.
• There's a fine line between patience and stubbornness; the Red Sox have been plenty patient with Daisuke Matsuzaka(notes), but this organization is too smart to let this mess continue much further. Dice-K threw another clunker on the fire Friday against Atlanta (4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 BB, 2 K) and the Red Sox have plenty of rotation-ready options waiting for a chance (the rehabbing John Smoltz(notes) will get one soon; sparkling prospect Clay Buchholz(notes) deserves a shot, too). This is your last call to make a speculative add on Buchholz before anything becomes official; I have no specific knowledge that the club is going to get him into the rotation, but it's not that difficult to connect the dots here. Theo Epstein and Terry Francona aren't going to wait forever.
Before I downshifted into column mode tonight, I dropped Dice-K in the Friends & Family League. No pickup here, amigos, I just wanted his act off the roster (I wasn't using him anyway). Forget any fear about watching him potentially shine for an opponent; I want to give Matsuzaka the chance to mess up someone else's ERA and WHIP.
• The hits keep coming for Troy Tulowitzki(notes); he hit another one out Friday, giving him five homers and five steals over his last 11 games. Jim Tracy bumped him up to the No. 5 slot, too. At this point even the cheesy scribes who make a living by presenting false fantasy contexts to you will have to admit that the buy-low window no longer exists. What's the price for Tulo from here on out? Would you go $18, would you go $20?
• The set-up with Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) isn't difficult to understand. He hits behind Adrian Gonzalez(notes), who gets as much respect as any non-Pujols hitter in the league. Kouzmanoff regularly comes up with men on base. When he gets hits, RBIs are going to follow. The third-sacker collected two more hits and two more RBIs in Friday's loss to Oakland; over the last 11 games, he's got 15 hits and 16 RBIs. I'm sorry to keep throwing the same "We love ya, Kouz" story into this space, but his ownership level is still laughably low. Time to fix that, gamers.
• Derek Jeter(notes) (ankle) got back to work and went 2-for-4 with a run and a walk; leave it to the captain to come through for the Yankees while other guys are scuffling (wink, wink). If you want to deconstruct the struggles of his infield teammate, come join Andy Behrens and friends over here.
• Maybe I'm going to need a mulligan on that Jason Frasor(notes) recommendation – Frasor came into a tie game at Washington and did all he could to make sure the Blue Jays walked off in defeat, allowing four consecutive men to reach (two singles, two walks). Mind you the rally started with an infield hit from Cristian Guzman(notes), but Frasor fell apart from there, walking the next two batters. You'd like to think that Frasor's outstanding body of work for the season would stick in the mind of Cito Gaston, but closing situations often become a case of "what have you done lately?" B.J. Ryan(notes) can't be discounted here, and Jeremy Accardo(notes) made a strong pitch Friday (2 IP, 4 K).
• Fernando Nieve(notes) would like your mixed-league attention; he's quietly put together two solid turns and they've come against AL East clubs. Nieve got a victory last weekend when he contained the Yankees over six innings, and Friday night he was even better against the Rays (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K). His next turn, assuming the Mets don't mess with the rotation, will come at home against the Cardinals.
Handshakes: Kevin Gregg(notes) hasn't been scored on in 12 of his last 13 appearances, and he's fallen into a couple of wins for the Cubs this week. Add that to the Carlos Marmol(notes) slump and the leash is getting longer. … Has any fantasy owner ever lost money on Joe Nathan(notes)? He's got 16 saves, a 1.69 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and he's so rarely talked about. … rancisco Rodriguez quickly rebounded from his blown chance in Baltimore, setting down the Rays 1-2-3. … Andrew Bailey(notes) struggled with command and put a couple on at San Diego but got out of it; he's up to seven saves and this might be a decent time to try to sell high on his numbers. … God only knows what the Giants would do without Brian Wilson(notes) (perfect inning, save No. 18). … David Aardsma(notes) continues to mark his territory, striking out the side against the Diamondbacks. … Brian Fuentes(notes) worked around a couple of baserunners, struck out two, and got save No. 19.
Speed Round: Poor Khalil Greene(notes) can't get a break; he had a homer and a double working Friday, then left the game with a left foot injury. He didn't sound too worried about it, however. … Brad Lidge(notes) (knee) will start his rehab assignment Tuesday in Double-A. … Manny Ramirez(notes) is expected to start a rehab assignment next week; he can return to the Dodgers on July 3. … The sneaky-valuable Josh Outman(notes) departed in the second inning with tightness in his pitching arm. … Willy Taveras(notes) was given a night off by the Reds, dragging his .219/270/.274 line to the bench. He's in a 1-for-46 funk, too. Pinch-running, anyone? … Harold Reynolds, buddy, what are you thinking? … Despite 12 quality starts this year, Cliff Lee(notes) has just four wins; the Cleveland bullpen collapsed at Wrigley Friday afternoon, sending Dr. Behrens home happy. … Andy Sonnanstine(notes) had another typical turn for him, mediocre but not altogether horrendous (6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 K). It will be interesting to see what the Rays do with their rotation when Scott Kazmir(notes) is ready to come back. … Arizona's Chris Young (hamstring) probably won't play this weekend. … The Mariners expect Erik Bedard(notes) (shoulder) back in a couple of weeks, but they're fearing the worst on Endy Chavez's(notes) knee injury Friday night. … We'll find out soon if Coco Crisp(notes) indeed has a torn labrum; it's very likely that he'll have surgery and miss the rest of the year.