Catching the Buzz

Change is one constant in fantasy sports. Players get hot and cool down, get hurt and get well, and move in and out of roles. Fantasy owners are constantly reacting to these changes (or at least they should be). Let's take a look at the Buzz Index
from the past couple days and see which players are currently causing the most change in fantasy baseball and fantasy football, and take a deeper look at what the fuss is all about.

Buzz Index (Baseball) – Adds
Aubrey Huff (Hou – 1B, 3B, OF) 16,272 adds
As of June 9, Huff was hitting .178 and not contributing to fantasy fortunes in any leagues. Over his past 26 games, however, Huff has gone 44 for 105 (.419) to raise his average to .286, hitting seven home runs and driving in 20 runs in the process. Perhaps Wednesday's trade from the Devil Rays to the Astros was the impetus that some fantasy owners needed to finally take a chance on Huff. Perhaps it is the timing and Huff's notorious history as a first-half bust and second-half monster – his career lines are .273/.335/.442 before the All-Star game and .303/.351/.515 post-break. Whatever the reason, Huff is making his way onto rosters in force in the roughly 3o percent of leagues where he is still not owned.

Jon Lester (Bos – SP) 8,275 adds
Lester has been fairly effective since a poor major league debut on June 10, and he's slowly making his way onto more and more fantasy rosters. Since his forgettable initial outing, Lester has gone 4-0 in five starts with a 2.57 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 28 innings. Lester has struggled with control, however – he has issued 16 bases on balls in those 28 innings, and his WHIP is at 1.46 as a result. As long as those runners continue to be left on base, Lester will make for a decent fantasy play.

Zach Miner (Det – SP) 7,447 adds
Miner's season has been much like Lester's – just more effective. Since his own shaky debut on June 4, Miner has won six consecutive starts, posting a 2.13 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 38 innings and striking out 27 batters. He's currently owned in just over 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and more and more fantasy owners are taking their chances with Miner until he gives them a reason (or a few reasons) not to.

Mike MacDougal (KC – RP) 6,855 adds
The Royals activated MacDougal from the 60-day DL on Thursday, and manager Bubby Bell will immediately return him to the fray (so to speak) as the closer in Kansas City. As is the case with any newly-minted closer, MacDougal, currently owned in roughly 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues, will be finding his way to a roster in most leagues in short order.

Jason Jennings (Col – SP) 4,340 adds
Fantasy owners perusing their league's free agent list are finding Jennings' recent numbers hard to pass on. When you select "Last Month (Total)" from the "Stats" drop-down menu, you've got 37.0 innings pitched, 1.22 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 30 strikeouts looking back at you. Of course, then there's the matter of his 3.67 ERA being the lowest of his career by almost a full run, and his full-season ERA not being under 5.00 since 2002. Perhaps he's brought a travel humidor with him on recent road trips?

Ray Durham (SF – 2B) 3,135 adds
Durham has been hitting the ball well since a terrible start – over his past 28 games, he's 32 for 105 (.305) with eight home runs, 22 runs batted in, and 18 runs in. He's been the top-ranked second baseman in the Yahoo! game over the past month, but is still owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Casey Blake (Cle – 3B, OF) 2,965 adds
The Indians activated Blake from the 15-day DL on Thursday – he had been recovering from a strained left oblique muscle since June 14. Batting sixth and playing right field on Thursday night, Blake hit his 11th home run of the season and drove in two runs. Blake is currently hitting .303 despite a 9-for-56 slump prior to hitting the DL, and should find plenty of run-producing opportunities in the talented Cleveland lineup.

Buzz Index (Baseball) – Drops
Todd Coffey (Cin – RP) 7,742 adds
They say breaking up is hard to do, and it's particularly true when it's a fantasy owner and his recently deposed closer. Most will wait until every glimmer of hope is gone, and in Coffey's case it's safe to say we've officially reached that point. He worked a scoreless eighth inning on Thursday while Eddie Guardado recorded his first save as a Red in the ninth.

Jason Lane (Hou – OF) 4,475 drops
The trade that brought Aubrey Huff to Houston added to the glut of players who can play outfield on the roster, and Lane and his .205 average were optioned to Triple-A as a result. As of the trade, Lane was owned in just over 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but fantasy owners will likely find little use for him again this season.

Morgan Ensberg (Hou – 3B) 3,664 drops
Ensberg has been struggling since injuring his shoulder on June 9 while diving for a foul ball. He's gone just 9 for 57 (.158) with a single home run since the injury, and has had two pain-killing shots – he's been taking antibiotics for 30 days and painkillers for 20 days according to the Houston Chronicle. Houston placed him on the 15-day DL on Thursday and also acquired Huff, who started at third base in his first game with the team. Fantasy owners without a DL spot to spare are cutting ties with Ensberg, who would need to come back from the DL like gangbusters for the win-now Astros to reverse his fairly bleak prospects for the rest of the season.

John Patterson (Was – SP) 3,223 drops
The forearm strain that caused Patterson to spend 57 games on the DL earlier in the season has resurfaced, as he pitched just one inning in his July 9 start before being pulled. Patterson received a cortisone shot over the All-Star break, and Nationals' manager Frank Robinson has said that he will be shut down until the arm has no problems, whether it's a long-term or short-term fix. Patterson himself, despite the "serious kink in his season," does not plan on being out long this time. Some fantasy owners are already moving on regardless, and despite his breakout success last season.

Wandy Rodriguez (Hou – SP) 2,805 drops
Rodriguez is currently owned in 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues, almost exclusively thanks to his impressive April (five starts, 4-0, 32 innings pitched, 2.53 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 21 strikeouts). His numbers have been truly horrific since then (14 starts, 5-6, 78 innings pitched, 6.12 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 47 strikeouts), so it's borderline inexplicable that he has been coming off rosters at anything short of a mass exodus.

Mark Prior (ChC – RP) 2,725 drops
Prior missed his bullpen session on Thursday due to a strained oblique, meaning that he would not be able to make his scheduled start on Sunday. The plan was for Prior to try for a Saturday session leading up to the Cubs placing him on the DL on Friday. This has all likely been just too much for some Prior owners, who now face the proposition of his 7.71 ERA and 1.76 WHIP taking up a DL spot on their roster for another unknown length of time.

Ambiorix Burgos (KC – RP) 2,098 drops
Cutting Burgos would be the reaction to the Royals' action of activating Mike MacDougal on Thursday and immediately reinstating him as closer. One might consider hanging onto Burgos with the potential of vulturing saves while MacDougal acclimates himself, but Burgos' 5.98 ERA and 1.57 WHIP make that a sketchy proposition.

Buzz Index (Football) – Drops
Priest Holmes (KC – RB) 411 drops
With hand-cuffing running backs being all the rage in fantasy football, Holmes has been the first choice of owners who have drafted Larry Johnson. Of course, we are also talking about a player who is just two seasons removed from 2,110 total yards and 27 touchdowns, so taking a flyer on this guy can hardly be described as ill-advised. Recent updates out of Kansas City have been vague and certainly not positive for Holmes, however. With the head and neck trauma suffered during a helmet-to-helmet collision on October 30, 2005, still a concern at this point, Holmes has been waiting for a spinal surgeon that he has been seeing to give him the okay to play. According to his personal trainer, Holmes has been working out but "not a lot." He may begin the season on the physically unable to perform list, but according to The Kansas City Star, he may opt to retire if his final evaluation is not favorable. "It's not what it will do to me today," Holmes has said, "It's what it will do when I'm 40 or 50."

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