The San Diego offense was missing in action during the opening week (19 runs in six games), but that was quickly forgotten in the home opener Monday as the Padres pelted the Braves, 17-2. There are some under-the-radar Friars to be aware of (park to the side), so let's have a quick look around.
Will Venable(notes) collected three hits Monday (including a homer) and also stole a base, and keep in mind he was a monster in spring training (four homers, nine steals). The Princeton product might sit against some lefties and he's just a career .260 hitter, but he's got a reasonable shot to hit 12-15 homers and steal 15 or more bases - not bad for someone owned in just two percent of Yahoo! leagues. He's a late bloomer at 27 and he doesn't have all that much experience playing baseball, but this could be another Nate McLouth(notes) type of story (you know, back when we loved McLouth, circa 2008).
Chase Headley(notes) took San Diego's best swings in the opening week and he grabbed two more hits Monday, pushing his average up to .448. He's a two-position grab (3B, OF) and a little bit of a post-hype sleeper; let's not forget how highly regarded he was when he broke into The Show back in 2008. He's got enough smarts to steal 10-15 bases a year, it's just a matter of seeing if the power will develop. And he's a far better hitter than his .269/.344/.405 line suggests, we haven't seen anything close to his ceiling yet.
Kyle Blanks(notes) is a fun guy to watch, for the power, for the No. 88 on his back, for the afro. It's a shame he's tied down to this giant home ballpark but Blanks has enough power to push 30-plus homers in any environment. He collected three hits, including his second homer, and five RBIs Monday. He's already got 12 major-league round trippers on just 173 at-bats.
• Jimmy Rollins(notes) was a late scratch at Philly and according to Jim Salisbury (the best Phils beat writer around) it's believed Rollins has a Grade 2 strain of his right calf muscle. This would typically be an injury that would lead to a DL trip; well see what an MRI uncovers Tuesday.
• The new order to the Rangers bullpen was a success in Cleveland: Frank Francisco(notes) worked a perfect ninth with the score tied at 2, and Neftali Feliz(notes) did the same in the tenth with a save in the balance. If you're wondering about the radar gun, Francisco was working in the mid-90s while Feliz was in the high 90s (and occasionally in three digits). The Rangers can say all they want about Francisco being temporarily demoted out of the closing role but if Feliz is electric in the new gig, how can they take him out of it?
The Julio Borbon(notes) mess continues at the plate (0-for-4, down to .040), though he did make a dynamite throw from center, cutting down Travis Hafner(notes) at the plate. The Rangers finally picked up some stolen bases Monday, with Josh Hamilton(notes), Vlad Guerrero and Joaquin Arias(notes) stealing one bag apiece. Elvis Andrus(notes) was on base four times (one hit, three walks) but he's yet to attempt a steal.
• Make it two straight messy outings for Chris Perez(notes), with the latest coming in the top of the ninth in a tie game (routine work for a hometown closer). Perez couldn't retire any of the three men he faced - a hit, a fielder's choice and a walk - before the Indians went to other options. Tony Sipp(notes) retired Ryan Garko(notes), then Jamey Wright(notes) induced a double play from Michael Young(notes), ending the threat. Wright went on to lose the game in the tenth, giving up a two-run moonshot from Nelson Cruz(notes).
Jensen Lewis(notes) might be worth a deep-league grab if you're hedging against Perez; Lewis is off to a solid start this year (4.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K) and he was 13-for-14 as a closer down the stretch in 2008. Don't be fooled by his 1-for-5 mark on saves last year, the blown save stat is very misleading for middle relievers and set-up men, working without a net and seldom allowed to get the end-of-game handshake even when they do their job. And also keep in mind that Kerry Wood(notes) (back) isn't too far off; he had a bullpen session Monday and will do it again Thursday.
• It was no surprise to see Adam Wainwright(notes) cruise past the Astros (8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K), and we all know Wandy Rodriguez(notes) isn't the same guy on the road (4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 0 K). Razzball offers the perfect comment on the 2010 Houston club: The Astros would've been better off if they auto drafted. If you're looking to stream against this spotty Astros offense, here are the next three pitchers (all widely available) taking on the assignment: Brad Penny(notes) Wednesday, Kyle Lohse(notes) Thursday, Tom Gorzelanny(notes) Friday.
• It was a tough day for AL East second basemen, with Brian Roberts(notes) (back) and Aaron Hill(notes) (hamstring) both landing on the 15-day DL. Not much comes our way with respect to fantasy reinforcements; Julio Lugo(notes) is a journeyman at best in Baltimore, while the Blue Jays will split the job between John McDonald(notes) (can't hit) and Mike McCoy(notes) (some wheels, but unproven).
• The Blue Jays have offered a save chance in all seven of their games but in the home opener Monday, Jason Frasor(notes) couldn't hold the fort. Frasor's allowed the leadoff man to reach in all five of his appearances, a trend that's going to give Cito Gaston an ulcer; Monday, the relievers was greeted by Mark Teahen's opposite-field homer. Stay warm, Kevin Gregg(notes). Bobby Jenks(notes) was no treat when the White Sox handed him a one-run lead in the bottom of the tenth, but he worked around two walks and got his second save of the year.
• I guess we have to put Carl Pavano(notes) on the watch list; he's got victories over the Red Sox and the Angels to boast of, with 10 strikeouts against just one walk. It's too early to tell how Target Field is going to play (and I'm not going to draw any major conclusions from what we saw in Monday's regular-season debut of the beautiful park), but the Minnesota pitchers at least can feel very confident in the new double-play combo of J.J. Hardy(notes) and Orlando Hudson(notes), and it's always a bonus when you're throwing to a once-a-generation backstop like Joe Mauer(notes). Jason Kubel(notes) (three hits, homer) and Mauer (3-for-5) provided half of Minnesota's 12 hits, and the Twins took full advantage of a struggling Jon Lester(notes), who couldn't locate his fastball for most of the afternoon.
• Ricky Nolasco(notes) (6 IP, 9 H, 5 R) and Johnny Cueto(notes) (5 IP, 9 H, 4 R) were both mediocre in their Monday matchup, but I watched every pitch and there's nothing to be alarmed about with these guys. Nolasco was bitten by the gopher ball (three homers) and Cueto was working behind in the count most of the night, but in both cases you can pin some of the blame on home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor, who had a ridiculous strike zone from the opening pitch. If you won't take my word for it on Bucknor, consider that he was voted the worst umpire in the majors according to Sports Illustrated polls in 2003 and in 2006, and Curt Schilling(notes) doesn't think much of him, either.
• It's easy for scribes to bash Scott Podsednik(notes); he's got a jelly arm and he doesn't have the power profile a competitive team would want in a corner outfielder. But in the make-believe context of fantasy baseball, there's a place for guys like Pods; he's batting near the top of the Royals lineup, off to a fast start (12-for-27), running whenever he can (five bags). The small-market screen has Podsednik available in a lot of leagues, and while you're in Kansas City thinking about a pickup, kick the tires on the Brandon Funston-approved Jose Guillen(notes) (third homer Monday).
• It was a tale of two halves for Brandon Inge(notes) in 2009; useful in the first half (.268/.360/.515, 21 homers) and worthless in the second (.186/.260/.281, six homers). We know Inge doesn't have the skill set to hit for a plus average in our game, but I'm willing to consider him as a deep-league corner grab, at least on the slow Mondays and Thursdays where there's a partial MLB slate. Knee problems had him hobbling for the stretch run last year, but he looks healthy now. He gave us two hits, two RBIs and one outstanding catch Monday, pushing his average up to .345.
Speed Round: Chipper Jones(notes) (oblique) was a surprise addition to the Atlanta lineup Monday, going 0-for-3. … The Phillies removed Jayson Werth(notes) (hip) from Monday's home opener but it was just a precautionary move. … Scott Rolen(notes) hit a couple of homers in Florida and while his range at third isn't what it used to be, he's still got excellent hands and footwork at the hot corner. … I'm not ready to start taking Andruw Jones(notes) seriously again, but he did knock out two homers at Toronto. … Chris Coghlan(notes) is down to .152 after an 0-for-6, but don't overreact here. He had some tough at-bats and put the ball in play each time; this is the perfect moment to get him at a discount. … Might as well run with the Alex Gonzalez story while you can. He went 1-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base Monday, and he clubbed four home runs last week. He's also batting second in the Toronto lineup. … Justin Duchscherer(notes) was serving up cans of corn in Seattle, working 7.1 scoreless frames and getting 11 fly-ball outs along the way (against eight grounders and four strikeouts). He'll get a home turn against Baltimore Saturday. … Barry Zito(notes) was nothing special against the Pirates (6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, just 1 K) but he picked up an easy victory as his mates pushed nine runs across. The perennially-underrated Bengie Molina(notes) (4-2-4-4, homer) had the best night of the hitters. … Hurry back, Ryan Zimmerman(notes) (hamstring); it's no fun watching Cristian Guzman(notes) bat third in Washington. … Matt Thornton(notes) struck out four of the six men he faced; he's as good a set-up man as there is in the American League. … Derrek Lee(notes) jammed his thumb late in the Cubs home-opening victory; X-rays came back negative. If this turns out to be anything substantial, Xavier Nady(notes) re-enters our fantasy world.