MLB Skinny: Bat of Troy

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CLOSER HOT SEAT

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS RED HOT
1st Chair: Undefined
2nd Chair: Seth McClung, Edwin Jackson
Skinny: Surprise, surprise. Peering through his 1960s Buddy Holly-endorsed spectacles, Joe Maddon has again altered the Devil Rays end-game approach. Recently recalled starter Edwin Jackson will be groomed as a part-time closer over the remainder of the season. Maddon noted, "I'm envisioning a situation where maybe Seth's pitched two days in a row, and we want to close with Jackson that particular night, or just go back and forth, I'm not sure yet." With a 6.75 ERA and a 2.05 WHIP in 17 games this season, the much needed transition to the pen could reverse the fortunes of one of the D-Rays top pitching prospects. If Jackson can mentally work his way into the role, his lively 97 mph fastball could be lethal in short doses. For now, keep McClung active in very deep mixed and AL-only leagues, but give Jackson a look.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS RED HOT
1st Chair: Mike Stanton
2nd Chair: Steve Kline
Injured: Armando Benitez
Skinny: Constantly plagued by knee and elbow issues, Benitez has more chronic issues than Snoop Dogg. On Sunday, Giants trainer Stan Conte announced Benitez will be out "for the next few days" due to excessive arthritis in both knees. With Benitez in the whirlpool, Stanton will takeover ninth-inning duties for at least the next week. In two weekend appearances, Stanton was flawless, notching two hitless saves against the Chicago Cubs. Those in NL-only and 12-team mixed leagues need to snare Stanton off waivers and activate him this week. The Giants face a reeling Cincinnati club for a three-game set from September 4-6.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS HOT
1st Chair: Justin Duchscherer
2nd Chair: Joe Kennedy
Injured: Huston Street
Skinny: Keep passing the Duchy. Four-for-four in save opportunities with Street on the shelf, Duchscherer has affirmed himself as the go-to-guy for Ken Macha. Reports out of Oakland this past weekend said Street will need a handful of rehab outings and will not be activated until at least September 9. Winners of nine of their past 12 games, look for Duchy to tally 2-3 saves this week with Texas and Tampa Bay on tap.

CINCINNATI REDS HOT
1st Chair: David Weathers
2nd Chair: Bill Bray, Todd Coffey, Scott Schoeneweis
Injured: Eddie Guardado
Skinny: The Weathers forecast calls for more end-game opportunities as "May never see another day" Guardado continues to nurse tendonitis in his right forearm. On Friday, Guardado threw from 100 feet for 12 minutes and afterwards said, "Today was great. Everything felt good." On the DL since August 20, Guardado hopes to return in a little over a week. The plummeting Reds have lost eight of their past nine contests. However, with Pittsburgh scheduled later this week, keep Weathers active in all formats.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES WARM
1st Chair: Matt Capps
2nd Chair: Salomon Torres
Injured: Mike Gonzalez
Skinny: Swashbuckled by tendonitis, Gonzalez was forced to the 15-day DL last week. An amazing 24-for-24 on save chances this season, Gonzalez is penciled in for a couple of bullpen sessions on Monday and Tuesday and, if positive, he could potentially return to closer's role on September 11. Gonzalez said, "Once I start throwing, I'll need maybe two or three days, throw a bullpen, take a day off and let's get back to work." As for this week, look for Capps and Torres to split time in the ninth. Capps' mind-blowing 52:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 71.1 innings and blazing mid-90s fastball makes him the more attractive option.

NEW YORK YANKEES LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Mariano Rivera
2nd Chair: Kyle Farnsworth
Skinny: Say it ain't so, Mariano. Say it ain't so. Never in a million years would I have expected to put the Yankees bullpen on the Hot Seat. Sidelined over the weekend due to a stiff right elbow, Rivera could be unavailable for a good portion of the upcoming week, but is not expected to log DL time. Yankees manager Joe Torre commented, "I'm just going to shut him down for a few days. Let's see if a few days off will help, try and relieve some of the discomfort." Send Rivera to the showers this week. Tight-panted setup man Kyle Farnsworth will take over ninth inning duties until Rivera returns. Available in 98 percent of Yahoo! leagues, he is a must one-week play for AL-only and head-to-head owners.

CLOSER HOT SEAT

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS RED HOT
1st Chair: Undefined
2nd Chair: Seth McClung, Edwin Jackson
Skinny: Surprise, surprise. Peering through his 1960s Buddy Holly-endorsed spectacles, Joe Maddon has again altered the Devil Rays end-game approach. Recently recalled starter Edwin Jackson will be groomed as a part-time closer over the remainder of the season. Maddon noted, "I'm envisioning a situation where maybe Seth's pitched two days in a row, and we want to close with Jackson that particular night, or just go back and forth, I'm not sure yet." With a 6.75 ERA and a 2.05 WHIP in 17 games this season, the much needed transition to the pen could reverse the fortunes of one of the D-Rays top pitching prospects. If Jackson can mentally work his way into the role, his lively 97 mph fastball could be lethal in short doses. For now, keep McClung active in very deep mixed and AL-only leagues, but give Jackson a look.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS RED HOT
1st Chair: Mike Stanton
2nd Chair: Steve Kline
Injured: Armando Benitez
Skinny: Constantly plagued by knee and elbow issues, Benitez has more chronic issues than Snoop Dogg. On Sunday, Giants trainer Stan Conte announced Benitez will be out "for the next few days" due to excessive arthritis in both knees. With Benitez in the whirlpool, Stanton will takeover ninth-inning duties for at least the next week. In two weekend appearances, Stanton was flawless, notching two hitless saves against the Chicago Cubs. Those in NL-only and 12-team mixed leagues need to snare Stanton off waivers and activate him this week. The Giants face a reeling Cincinnati club for a three-game set from September 4-6.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS HOT
1st Chair: Justin Duchscherer
2nd Chair: Joe Kennedy
Injured: Huston Street
Skinny: Keep passing the Duchy. Four-for-four in save opportunities with Street on the shelf, Duchscherer has affirmed himself as the go-to-guy for Ken Macha. Reports out of Oakland this past weekend said Street will need a handful of rehab outings and will not be activated until at least September 9. Winners of nine of their past 12 games, look for Duchy to tally 2-3 saves this week with Texas and Tampa Bay on tap.

CINCINNATI REDS HOT
1st Chair: David Weathers
2nd Chair: Bill Bray, Todd Coffey, Scott Schoeneweis
Injured: Eddie Guardado
Skinny: The Weathers forecast calls for more end-game opportunities as "May never see another day" Guardado continues to nurse tendonitis in his right forearm. On Friday, Guardado threw from 100 feet for 12 minutes and afterwards said, "Today was great. Everything felt good." On the DL since August 20, Guardado hopes to return in a little over a week. The plummeting Reds have lost eight of their past nine contests. However, with Pittsburgh scheduled later this week, keep Weathers active in all formats.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES WARM
1st Chair: Matt Capps
2nd Chair: Salomon Torres
Injured: Mike Gonzalez
Skinny: Swashbuckled by tendonitis, Gonzalez was forced to the 15-day DL last week. An amazing 24-for-24 on save chances this season, Gonzalez is penciled in for a couple of bullpen sessions on Monday and Tuesday and, if positive, he could potentially return to closer's role on September 11. Gonzalez said, "Once I start throwing, I'll need maybe two or three days, throw a bullpen, take a day off and let's get back to work." As for this week, look for Capps and Torres to split time in the ninth. Capps' mind-blowing 52:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 71.1 innings and blazing mid-90s fastball makes him the more attractive option.

NEW YORK YANKEES LUKEWARM
1st Chair: Mariano Rivera
2nd Chair: Kyle Farnsworth
Skinny: Say it ain't so, Mariano. Say it ain't so. Never in a million years would I have expected to put the Yankees bullpen on the Hot Seat. Sidelined over the weekend due to a stiff right elbow, Rivera could be unavailable for a good portion of the upcoming week, but is not expected to log DL time. Yankees manager Joe Torre commented, "I'm just going to shut him down for a few days. Let's see if a few days off will help, try and relieve some of the discomfort." Send Rivera to the showers this week. Tight-panted setup man Kyle Farnsworth will take over ninth inning duties until Rivera returns. Available in 98 percent of Yahoo! leagues, he is a must one-week play for AL-only and head-to-head owners.

God Bless managerial tirades.

Torn from the pages of the Billy Martin handbook on umpire tongue lashings, Detroit manager Jim Leyland went ballistic in New York last Thursday in one of the more hilarious exchanges in recent history. In the middle of the seventh inning, Leyland was tossed by plate umpire James Hoye for arguing balls and strikes. To ensure Hoye earned his paycheck, a furious Leyland stormed out of the Tigers dugout and berated the ump with a barrage of expletive-laced pleasantries. At the peak of the argument, "God Bless America" began to play over the Yankee Stadium loudspeakers temporarily silencing the D-town detonator for a moment. However, after the song ended, the torrid lecture promptly continued.

Although Leyland was the highlight of an otherwise uneventful season of managerial meltdowns, hopefully Lou Piniella will return next year and inspire us all with his base throwing temper tantrums. Here are the news and notes that were sent to the showers over the weekend:

WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days

  • Umpires across the league added more padding to their chest protectors last week when Tampa Bay super prospect Delmon Young was called up on August 29. Suspended for 50 games earlier this season for throwing a bat at a minor league umpire, Young provides instant offense for a Devil Rays team drenched in superior, young talent. Prior to being recalled on August 28, Young had an outstanding campaign at Triple-A Durham – 342 at-bats, .316 batting average, eight homers, 59 RBI and 22 steals. After being plunked in his first Major League at-bat against the Chicago White Sox, the D-Ray's future All-Star went yard in his second attempt. In his first six games, he has gone 10-for-23 with two homers and five RBIs.

Only 20-years-old, Delmon, much like his brother Dmitri, is a contact hitter with tremendous bat control. Currently sandwiched between Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford hitting in the two-spot, Young will be a top 15 outfielder in September based on his five-tool skills. For those looking forward to 2007, count on the rookie dynamo as a No. 3 outfielder. Next year he could total a .310 batting average, 25 home runs, 90 RBI, 90 runs and 20 stolen bases. Come March, you will likely have to spend a top-60 pick to acquire his services.

  • Ay, Papi! Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz missed his seventh straight game on September 3 due to an irregular heartbeat. Ortiz underwent several tests late last week and wore a heart monitor over the weekend. The data compiled will be examined by team doctors on Monday and there is a possibility he could return to the Red Sox lineup by mid-week. On Friday, team doctors released an encouraging statement stating, "David's physical examination was normal. In brief, David's testing was unremarkable or normal except for changes commonly found in well-trained athletes." Carlos Pena and Eric Hinske will continue to see additional playing time in Ortiz's absence. Keep Big Papi benched until he is medically cleared.

  • Injury News and Updates: Click your heels Liriano owners, the return of the chosen one is just around the corner. On Saturday, the flame-throwing sensation had a 12-minute, nearly-full throttle throwing session that went very well. Liriano said, "I feel great. Everything feels good now, it feels like normal." Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he could start a rehab assignment as early as Saturday and return to the Minnesota rotation by September 13 … Manny Ramirez continues to riddle fantasy owners about his possible return from a strained right patellar tendon. Manager Terry Francona added, "Whether it's five days, 10 days, we just don't know. But I think by saying two days, we're doing him a disservice. We've got to let this [heal]." Play it safe until more positive news comes off the wire … Meanwhile, Man-Ram's teammate, catcher Jason Varitek, was activated on Sunday, but did not start. Out since August 1 with a knee injury, get him back in your lineup this week … On September 1, Boston Red Sox Rookie of the Year candidate Jonathan Papelbon walked off the mound after feeling a burning sensation in his right shoulder. On Saturday, Papelbon said, “"Best case scenario, I'll be back in five, six or seven days. It just feels weak and fatigued. I'm going to try and stay positive, hopefully I can pitch in a week or so." An MRI will be conducted on Monday. Journeyman reliever Mike Timlin will take over closer duties for the Red Sox for at least the next few days. Craig Breslow and Keith Foulke could also figure into the mix … Down I-95, New York Mets ace Pedro Martinez participated in his first bullpen session on Saturday since landing on the DL with a right calf strain on August 15. Martinez threw 38 pitches and felt no discomfort. Mets manager Willie Randolph said, "It looks like he'll make a start in the middle of the month. That's the target date." Well, at least he may get a couple of starts before the end of the season … Twins steady rock Brad Radke will miss 2-3 weeks with a stress fracture in his throwing shoulder. Although he may get a start or two before the end of September, his contributions as a No. 3 starter are effectively done. Recalled rookie Scott Baker will fill the rotation void. With a 2.67 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 12 Triple-A starts this season, Baker is a great pick up in AL-only and deep mixed leagues.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues

  • Anthony Reyes, StL, SP
    Bust out the knee-high striped socks, Reyes is back. Recalled on Friday, Reyes made his first start on Sunday against the woeful Pittsburgh Pirates going 6.1 strong innings, allowing no runs, four hits and one walk, while striking out nine. In 12 big league starts earlier this year, the Cardinals top prospect had mediocre success going 4-6 with a 4.73 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and a marginal 44:27 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 64.2 innings. Reyes blamed a great deal of his inconsistencies on throwing too many offspeed pitches and adjusted accordingly in the minors, depending more heavily on his mid-90s fastball. It worked perfectly as the 24-year-old fanned 17 in 13 scoreless innings in two Triple-A Memphis starts. With Mark Mulder done for the remainder of the season, Reyes will perform well for a Cardinals club desperate for consistency in their rotation. Available in 93 percent of Yahoo! leagues, he could notch 3-4 quality starts in September.

PROSPECT WATCH: Top players down on the farm

  • Troy Tulowitzki, Col, SS (ETA: Now)
    Colorado may have finally found a shortstop. Once dependent upon the services of Walt Weiss, Juan Uribe, Royce Clayton, Clint Barmes and numbers gnome Neifi Perez, Tulowitzki will buck the awful historic trend. At 6-foot-3, the 20-year-old is a big, powerful bat with exceptional bat speed and 25-30 home run potential. At Double-A Tulsa the youngster hit .290 with 13 homers and 62 RBI in 427 at-bats. Pressing a bit in his first few games in the bigs, going 5-for-17 with seven punchouts, expect him to calm down and be a solid power numbers contributor at middle-infield in deep NL-only formats. If you're looking to next year, store his name into long-term memory as a player capable of 15-20 homers next season.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Derrek Lee, ChC, 1B – Now that's the D-Lee we took in the first round. Blasting his first homer since June 28 on Friday, Lee is 9-for-20 with four RBI in his past six games. Get him in your lineup.

Craig Monroe, Det, OF – Once Placido Polanco returns to action in about a week, Jim Leyland plans to move Monroe to the RBI-friendly three-spot. After compiling eight homers and 21 RBIs in August, he should be a sensational power numbers producer in your greatest hour of need. If he's wasting away on your bench, find a spot in your lineup.

Shane Victorino, Phi, OF – The zany Philly Fanatic has tooted his nose-shaped horn repeatedly in the past couple of weeks for Victorino. Riding a nine-game hit streak, the Philly outfielder has seven multi-hit games in his past 11. Nestled between Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley in the two-spot, he will be an excellent source of batting average and runs in September.

Phil Nevin, Min, DH/1B &ndash Traded for the second time this season, Nevin could be the perfect cream filling for the Twinkies. With Jason Kubel and Rondell White struggling, Nevin will likely be the primary DH for the rest of the year. AL-only and deep mixed leaguers in search of a power upgrade need to snag him, especially if he qualifies at catcher.

David Wells, SD, SP – Now in his second tour of duty in San Diego, pick-up Grimace in NL-only and deep mixed leagues. Coming off a superb August in which the portly tosser posted a 2.65 ERA in four starts, he should be a nice No. 5 starter given his respectable 4.06 ERA in 17 career starts at Petco.

Ryan Theriot, ChC, 2B/SS – Slowly beginning to get more playing time, the former LSU Tiger has clawed his way into fantasy consideration after his 5-for-6 effort at Pittsburgh on August 30. Known primarily for his drag racer wheels – he had 14 steals in 73 games at Triple-A Iowa – grab him as a batting average and steals upgrade at middle infield in NL-only leagues.

Jason Hirsh, Hou, SP – Equipped with enough rocket fuel to circle the planet 10 times over, Hirsh has calmed down and posted two straight quality starts. Yielding just two earned and, most importantly, three walks in his past 15 innings, snag him off waivers in all leagues 12-teams and deeper.

Jeremy Sowers, Cle, SP – Despite totaling eight straight quality starts, the Indians plan to shut the control freak down after his September 6 start. Throwing 168 innings between Triple-A and the bigs, the Cleveland front office is being cautious with their cherished young starter. Remember him after Round 10 next year.

Joe Saunders, Ana, SP – Hey, Joe! Did running into that late-season brick wall hurt? With the tank on empty, the young Angels hurler has bedeviled fantasy owners with 16 earned in his past 17.2 innings. In his last outing he went a career long 7.1 innings, allowing just one earned, but recent complaints of arm fatigue mean more bumpy rides.

Mark Loretta, 2B, Bos – Just two for his past 29, Loretta has made fantasy owners red-faced in recent weeks. To make matters worse, he has not homered since August 1 and has only one RBI in his past 13 games.

Yahoo! Experts League Update
KFFL-Wasserzieher has closed the gap on RotoWire_Liss and now trails by just 7.5 points for the league lead, the closest any team has come to Liss in months. The latest player pickups across the league the past few days include Jose Valverde, Daniel Cabrera, Scott Olsen, Barry Bonds and Felix Hernandez.

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