MLB Skinny: Opportunity lost

Oops, I did it again
I got lost in the game

Yes, I'm opening with a lyrical snippet from a Britney Spears song. And, yes, it's very embarrassing to do so. But, I used this space to confess a roster management gaffe about a month ago in which I left Edinson Volquez on my bench when travel-related distractions got the best of me. So, as I pondered coming clean about failing to use my top waiver spot in the Y! Friends and Family League on Clayton Kershaw this past weekend – I was on an unplugged Memorial Day weekend camping trip, I celebrated a birthday along the way, beers were involved and … well, you get the idea – those words to Britney's ditty came to mind. To be honest, Kershaw wouldn't have satisfied any dire needs – I'm running in the top three in the starting pitching categories. But, as Andy Behrens demonstrated this past week in this league, a big-buzz prospect can be flipped for a nice return – he was able to deal Jay Bruce and Erik Bedard to Michael Gehlken for David Ortiz. Surely, Kershaw would have been easy to cash in for my true need, speed. Oh well, I guess I can still wait for Pittsburgh to call up Andrew McCutchen, or Milwaukee to call up Matt LaPorta, or Tampa Bay to call up David Price, etc. But I'd have been much better off going the Kershaw route. What can I say? You think I'm sent from above? Well, I'm not that innocent … God, that's terrible. Let's just move on.

BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Kevin Kouzmanoff, SD, 3B
Since May 20, the Padres' slightly over 50 percent owned hot corner has hit .379 with five home runs in seven games – good for the most home runs in the league during that span. Kouz has hit over .300 in the 25 games since enduring a 4-for-31 (.129) seven-game stretch near the end of April. His 44-to-7 K:BB ratio is still wince-worthy, but he has drawn three of those free passes in his past four games. Considering that he's still just 26 years old and comes with minor league 162-game averages of .332 and 27 home runs, it's prudent to take his current run seriously. If you jumped off this train in late April, now's the time to jump back on board.

Jason Bergmann, Was, SP
Not too many owners are taking Bergmann's current streak of 19.2 IP without allowing a run seriously. He was owned in less than four percent of Y! public default leagues as of Memorial Day, and he's been a relative no-show on the "Buzz Index Adds" leaderboard for the past couple days. What owners should take seriously, however, are the 22 Ks during this shutout stretch. Bergmann has been pretty close to a K-per-inning producer during his professional career – 0.86 K-per-IP in 684.1 career innings. And if you look at his past 11 starts dating back to last September, he's posted a 5-2 record with a 3.92 ERA and a 62-to-20 K:BB rate in 64.1 IP. Bergmann generates nice, loose action from his 6-foot-4 frame on a quality fastball, curve, slider, changeup arsenal – there's definite upside here. Certainly he's worthy of a speculative play – start with a spot-start and see where it leads. And if strikeouts are what ail you, he's got to be on the short list.

PROSPECT WATCH: Top players down on the farm

  • Seth Smith, Col, OF (ETA – now)
    The Rockies' No. 12 prospect for '08, according to Baseball America, got called up over the Memorial Day weekend and has been inserted into the outfield as a starter for the team's past four games. He's produced a home run, a stolen base and a .267 batting average in 15 at bats, so far. In 45 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs, Smith was hitting .321 with six home runs, 30 RBIs, 36 runs and 11 steals. He also ranked fourth in the PCL with 34 walks, helping to boost his OBP to a stellar .442 rate. A former backup QB to Eli Manning at Mississippi, Smith has 20/20 upside and should see steady playing time for the next couple weeks while Brad Hawpe and Matt Holliday, both on the DL, nurse themselves back to health. He's definitely an NL-only factor, but he could be a short-term option in deeper mixed leagues – again, he plays his home games in Colorado.

MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values

Bengie Molina, SF, C (94 percent owned) – Molina has caught holy fire, collecting 20 hits in his past 35 at bats (.571). Those 20 hits represent a major-league high since May 17, and the 14 RBIs collected in that span rank second in the league.

Mike Cameron, Mil, OF (26%) – Since opening the season with a .174 average in his first 11 games, Cameron has followed that slump up by hitting at a .305 clip over his past 14 games, including three home run, 10 RBIs, nine runs and two stolen bases. He's a proven .250 hitter. But he's also proven that he can reach the 20/20 club with ease.

Jerry Hairston Jr., Cin, 2/3/S/O (4%) – This fantasy utility knife is the league leader in stolen bases (7) since taking over for an injured Jeff Keppinger on May 13. In those past 12 games, Hairston has also produced a .350 batting average and scored 10 runs.

Pedro Feliz, Phi, 3B (4%) – Feliz edged out former teammate Bengie Molina and current teammate Shane Victorino for the most hits in the league for the past seven days (14). Feliz's past week produced a line of .452, one home run, 10 RBIs and seven runs. May has, far and away, been his best month, historically – his .280 career clip in May is more than 25 points better than any other month.

Jack Cust, Oak, OF (8%) – One of baseball's most recent "Three True Outcomes" shining stars is power binging once again. In his past 10 games, Cust has four home runs, eight RBIs, eight runs to go with eight walks and 15 strikeouts.

Shawn Chacon, Hou, SP (2%) – Chacon was the most valuable fantasy pitcher for the past week, pitching 14 innings combined in two victories (ChC, @ StL). He also tallied 12 strikeouts against just one walk.

Joba Chamberlain, NYY, RP (95%) – With Ian Kennedy headed to the DL with a strained lat muscle, speculation is running high that Chamberlain could be moved into the rotation next week to fill Kennedy's spot. This would be a definite fantasy boon for the emotional fireballer, who has been fairly unhittable in his near-50 innings of major-league work, thus far.

Brandon Morrow, Sea, RP (1%) – A poor man's Joba, if you will, Morrow is another very hard-throwing, highly-touted arm that's stuck in the middle (relief). Talk has also begun in regards to moving Morrow into the rotation. The No. 5 pick in the '06 draft has fanned 83 batters in 75-plus major-league innings, and his command is slowly coming around. In the starting rotation, he'd be an AL-only must and a worthy mixed league flyer. A minor-league adjustment stint would almost assuredly precede any move.

Randy Johnson, Ari, SP (78%) – The Big Unit is 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA, 25 Ks and just three walks in his past four starts (24 IP).

Bartolo Colon, Bos, SP (22%) – Colon has flashed old school mid-90s heat in his first two starts of the season for Boston this past week. In a combined 12 innings, he's picked up two wins, posted a 2.25 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and fanned eight.

Justin Duchscherer, Oak, P (55%) – Duch pitched eight innings of one-hit, shutout ball on May 24 to beat the Red Sox. In total, he's yet to pitch less than five innings or allow more than three runs in any of his seven starts this season. His totals land him among the top 30 pitchers in the Y! game.

Justin Upton, Ari, OF – Upton wore the collar for the entire past week, going 0-for-20. In his past nine games, he's 1-for-30, but he did manage seven walks during that span.

Delmon Young, Min, OF – Dating back to last September, Young has gone 221 at bats without hitting a home run. He's also just 1-for-20 in his past five games.

Edwin Encarnacion, Cin, 3B – In his past nine games, Encarnacion is 5-for-38 (.132) with no home runs, three RBIs, one run and an 11-to-1 K:BB ratio.

Freddy Sanchez, Pit, 2B – In his past six games, Sanchez is just 4-for-29 (.138) with no extra-base hits or RBIs.

Raul Ibanez, Sea, OF – With just two hits in his past 34 at bats, Ibanez has seen his batting average fall nearly 40 points in his past 10 games.

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