MLB Skinny: No knock on Wood

Travis Wood(notes) finally ended the cycle of mixing in six- and seven-run shellackings in between quality starts. On Monday, he shutout the Astros for 6.2 innings for his second win of the season, this after coming away with a six-inning, two-run no-decision against Houston his last time out.

Owned in less than 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues heading into Monday's outing, Wood had been the poster child for bad luck. He led MLB in difference between his actual ERA (6.21) and his FIP (3.20). His .365 BABIP was second-highest in the league behind Matt Garza(notes). And his Strand Rate (59.5) was the seventh-lowest among starters.

If you want to see what the opposite side end of the fortune spectrum looks like, take Cleveland's Josh Tomlin(notes), ranked No. 35 in the Y! game. His ERA-FIP is -2.27. His Strand Rate is 90.9. And his BABIP is .157. He's owned in more than three times as many leagues as Wood. But in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League, Tomlin can be had for free while Wood has been rostered since draft day. Yes, K rate in an inning-capped league is a factor. But there's also a clear consensus of thought that, while Tomlin is living on borrowed time, it's only a matter of time for Wood.

Alright, let's take atrip around the horn and see what else caught my eye this past week:


Handicapped parking –> Kendrys Morales(notes): Nearly a year removed from ankle surgery, Morales still doesn't have a clear timetable for a return and is now getting a second opinion from a specialist in Colorado so he can complete his rehab with peace of mind. This was a decision he made after having to get two cortisone shots in his ankle in the past three months because of pain and inflammation that has occurred as he has tried to increase workout activities. Hope that he could make it back to the Angels lineup this month has vanished. Clearly this is a situation that is going to drag out much longer. Morales doesnât sound even remotely confident in his ankle yet, and there is even the possibility that he may need a follow-up operation to clean out scar tissue. He's still owned in 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but those owners are likely looking at some time after the All-Star break before that commitment even has a chance to bear fruit.

Just a matter of time –> Lonnie Chisenhall(notes): The Indians top hitting prospect nearly broke camp with the Tribe after hitting .500 in 26 spring at bats. But the Indians opted to go with veteran Jack Hannahan(notes) instead, which has worked out fine, so far. But, after a hot start, Hannahan is starting to reveal that he is who we thought he was. In his past nine games, he's hitting .219 with just one extra-base hit (a double). Hannahan is owned in 14 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and I can't think of too many that have overachieved more to this point. He lacks speed and power and he's a career .228 hitter (.355 SLG%) who has hit below .265 in more than 2000 at bats at the Double- and Triple-A level combined. Chisenhall is hitting near .300 for Triple-A Columbus, including a .429 clip in his first seven games of May. He's noted for good plate discipline and a sweet stroke that can power balls to all fields. Like Carlos Santana(notes) last season, Chisenhall's promotion is just a matter of service time. Unless the team decides, like Kansas City did with Eric Hosmer(notes), that it can't wait even that long.

Double flush –> Ian Stewart(notes): I talked about my disdain for Stewart's fantasy game in this column a few weeks back. I mention him again only because Colorado manager Jim Tracy recently issued some strong words about Stewart, saying, "We are getting to the point with him that's it time for him to fish or cut bait. He's either going to play his way in or play his way off the team." Stewart is just 1-for-18 since his return from a demotion to Colorado Springs. He's still owned in 25 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Those of you holding out hope shouldn't wait for Colorado to make a move. Stewart needs to be purged from your fantasy roster now. Go grab Chase Headley(notes), Danny Valencia(notes), Wilson Betemit(notes), or Mark DeRosa(notes) (set to return from DL) instead.


Pawn piece –> Mike Fontenot(notes): Miguel Tejada(notes) appears to be close to losing his job, and for good reason. He's hitting under the Mendoza Line and has gone 20 games without an extra-base hit. I lauded his consistency a few weeks back, but he appears to have finally hit the career wall. He's swinging at more pitches outside the strike zone than ever before and he's subsequently making the weakest contact of his career (14.0 LD%). Mike Fontenot could soon officially take over starting SS duties, and he's a consideration in deep leagues. His .876 OPS trails only Jose Reyes(notes) and Jed Lowrie(notes) among the SS-eligible. He sustained a .909 OPS over 119 games in '08, so there's at least some history of pop in his bat. And, you have to like that the Giants have batted him third for six consecutive games. Yes, that's an indictment of the Giants offense, but Fontenot need make no excuses for it.

From first aid to fantasy aid –> Rafael Furcal(notes): On the DL since mid-April with a broken thumb, Furcal has started taking batting practice and fielding ground balls. A minor league rehab assignment is soon to follow. I mention this because he's just 43 percent owned in Yahoo! and, when healthy, we know he's fully capable of hitting for average and making an impact on the base paths. Durability has long been a reason to doubt him, but he belongs in the lineup of a standard mixed league roster when he's playing.

Worth a closer look –> Erick Aybar(notes): With a .364 batting average and six steals, there hasn't been a better fantasy shortstop the past two weeks than Aybar. Hard to believe he's still available in two-thirds of Yahoo! leagues. After all, he's a career .280 hitter with the speed to support his 37-steal pace. And he's leading off for the 11th-best offense in MLB. Your attention to Aybar is overdue.

In the waiting room –> Jason Bourgeois(notes): An oblique injury has landed Bourgeois on the DL. But those that could use speed out of the middle infield need to keep his return on the radar. In his last game before landing on the DL, Bourgeois started at second base for the first time, his second appearance at 2B this season. With Bill Hall's(notes) struggles at the plate, Bourgeois was expected to get a shot to supplant Hall at second base, thus quickly gaining eligibility there in Y! leagues. Given his speed impact (second in SB behind Michael Bourn(notes)) and ability to make contact, he's a very intriguing pairing with Bourn at the top of the Astros order.


Big deal –> Alfonso Soriano(notes): I'd be looking to sell off my Soriano shares, if I owned him. Never one to be noted for his patience, Soriano is swinging at 49.4 percent of pitches outside the strike zone, easily the highest rate in the league (yes, even more than Vlad), and 14 percent more than his career average. He also owns the worst K/BB rate of his career, which is not easy to do given his past marks. And only Lance Berkman(notes), Jose Bautista(notes) and Ryan Braun(notes) have a higher HR/FB rate which, at 26.2 percent, is 11 percent above his career mark. Soriano is streaky and comes with iffy health. With his gaudy HR total (11), now is a good time to trade your Soriano chip for a buy-low candidate with a more bankable upside at this point in their career, like the struggling Adam Dunn(notes), for instance.

Card games –> Allen Craig(notes): After fouling a ball off his calf on Friday, Craig missed the remaining two games of the past weekend series. Too bad, as he missed a couple more opportunities to add games played at the third base position while David Freese(notes) is out. He's already picked up a couple games at the hot corner as manager Tony LaRussa likes the offensive potential that Craig brings to the table – .928 OPS in 209 Triple-A games. Among the penny stock outfielders, Craig is my favorite target – at least until Chris Heisey(notes) starts getting some respect in Cincy. Craig's calf injury is minor and he'll be back in the lineup this week, possibly adding to his hot corner count along the way.

Point of interest –> Franklin Gutierrez(notes): An interesting news item to come out in the wake of Milton Bradley(notes) being designated for assignment by Seattle is the M's 7-10 day timeline for Gutierrez's return from a stomach issue. He's not an impact fantasy player, but he's at least serviceable, with the potential to hit .270 with 15 home runs and 15 steals in the middle of the M's order. That's worth a bit more than his ownership number (six percent) would indicate.

Keeping the faith –> Magglio Ordonez(notes): The Tigers haven't lost faith in Maggs, and neither should you. Despite relatively normal peripherals, including a LD% right at his career rate, Ordonez is hitting just .179, and this is a case where his .188 BABIP, second-lowest in the league, definitely has an unhealthy dose of bad luck mixed in. It's arguable that his lack of power has something to do with his recovery from last season's ankle injury. But there's some encouraging signs that things are starting to turn around for Maggs in that department as he has three extra-base hits in his past five games after just one in his first 20 games. Ordonez, available in 80 percent of Y! leagues, crushed some balls over the weekend that went for outs, and I think he's about to embark on a run that will put the Mendoza Line in his rear-view mirror for good. Manager Jim Leyland agrees, saying, "Maggs is close. I'm not saying he's turned the corner, but he's real close." And once he does get his groove back, the solid run production that comes from hitting third in front of Miguel Cabrera(notes) will follow. Jonny Gomes(notes) die-hards (38 percent owned) should consider this actionable advice.


Petco pets welcome –> Tim Stauffer(notes): In his past 197 IP for the Padres, Stauffer has produced a 2.65 ERA and an innings-cap, default-league serviceable 6.62 K/9 rate. And this season, his BB/9 rate is top 20 (1.96) among starters. Among the 40 percent-owned and under crowd, Stauffer is the prize.

Left for dead –> Mike Leake(notes): I've talked about Travis Wood here previously, and above. But much of the same argument for Wood also applies to teammate Mike Leake. Like Wood, Leake has a very low strand rate, large disparity between his ERA and his FIP, and he's striking out more than 8.0 batter per 9 IP – a borderline elite number for a starter. He's also churning out a K/BB ratio (2.82) that is a dramatic improvement upon last year's rate (1.86). Leake was pummeled by Houston in his last outing, leading to a massive sell-off of his shares in Y! fantasy leagues. Further hurting his value is the Reds' decision to move him to the bullpen – he pitched an event-free ninth inning in the Reds' win on Monday night over the Astros. Leake's no longer ownable in anything but the deepest of leagues. But make sure to keep tabs on him. I wouldn't be surprised if he comes back into fantasy favor later on this season.


Mining the catcher position –> Ryan Doumit(notes): Kurt Suzuki(notes) is the shallow-league add, and Hank Conger(notes) and Wilson Ramos(notes) remain the best of the deeper-league waiver wire gems. But don't sleep on Doumit if he's still available, and the others aren't. Doumit has two home runs and seven RBIs in his past two games. And there's talk he'll start to see some opportunities in right field going forward, increasing his overall playing time. Among catchers with at least 60 plate appearances, Doumit ranks No. 8 with an .817 OPS. And he's seen most of his at bats from the No. 6 spot in the lineup, allowing for nice RBI production (for the position) despite limited opportunities.

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