If the baseball season were condensed to eight weeks and played entirely before June, Xavier Nady would be a fantasy god. He has 44 career homers, and 22 of them have been hit in either April or May. Monday's ninth inning home run off Brad Lidge should've surprised no one, and neither should the dinger off Jason Jennings Tuesday night. Nady is a fair add right now. Ride the crest of his unrivaled spring awesomeness for a few weeks, then try to flip him …
As predicted, Boof Bonser and Daniel Cabrera were both useful starters Tuesday night. Boof didn't get the win, but he went six innings allowing only three hits and two runs while striking out six. Cabrera took a rather tough loss, going seven innings, yielding three runs and striking out nine. Both guys are available in an overwhelming majority of Yahoo! leagues. Mark Mulder, Cliff Lee and Mark Prior are among the currently useless pitchers with far greater percent-ownerships than Boof and Cabrera. Wake up, auto-pickers.
Perhaps the most significant fantasy detail from that 3-2 Twins victory is this: Minnesota stole five bases, four of them off Cabrera's tectonically slow delivery. He's going to be generous to opposing base-runners all year. File that fact away for later use. It's normally difficult to stream for steals, but against certain opposing pitchers and catchers, it's possible.
The most interesting stolen base of the season so far belongs to Milwaukee's Corey Hart, universally touted as a late-round sleeper with 20-20 talent. He ran in the first inning of the Brewers' first game. Nice to see, at least for those of us who've helped hype him, and who arguably drafted him too early. He's somehow only 5.3 percent owned. The most interesting pair of stolen bases so far belongs to Willy Taveras, who's now 2-for-2 and looking like a guy who intends to lead the NL in steals. Another guy who should be a sneaky source for steals, and who's almost universally available, is Minnesota shortstop Jason Bartlett (1.3 percent owned). In 333 at bats last season, he hit .309 and stole 10. He swiped one last night, too.
Basically, if you're a relief pitcher on any of my teams, last night you were hit like a piñata. A large, unmoving piñata. At a party full of ravenous kids who've been raised in vegan homes. My RPs were hit that hard. Jose Valverde? Yeah, I own him. Chad Cordero? All mine. Dan Wheeler? Yup, got him, too. These things happen. Don't make rash decisions on quality relievers unless their managers make them first. If you're a trade vulture, make a run at Cordero or Valverde.
I've made a significant and well-documented investment in Ian Snell this year, and the early results were encouraging: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 K. If I hadn't mouthed-off about him so much to so many, I might actually be inclined to shop him right now. But I've bragged myself into a corner in leagues where I've insisted – maybe a little too forcefully – that he can be an ace. So let's just hope that happens. Chris Carpenter, who I have not made a significant investment in, is going to miss a start. He's experiencing inflammation in his right elbow. Uh-oh. Here's what Carpenter told the AP: "Everybody I've talked to, the doctors and trainers, are not alarmed. They're trying to make sure I know everything will be OK."
Right. Got it. Sounds good. It's just the elbow on the arm you throw with. Totally not a big deal. Walk it off, big guy. Carpenter missed the 2003 season following shoulder surgery, and his doctors obviously implanted something that made him throw strikes. He's been a tier-one ace since returning, but he's thrown 463.1 innings and 6,652 regular season pitches over the past two seasons. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised that things are beginning to hurt.
I fielded an email this week that really got at one of the essential differences between head-to-head and roto strategy. Someone asked whether he should use his waiver priority to add Roger Clemens, who'd recently been dropped in his league. The emailer provided lots of relevant details about the player pool, his roster, and the league configuration, but he didn't mention whether it was head-to-head or roto scoring. And that, in the case of Roger Clemens, really makes all the difference.
No one seriously thinks that Clemens will just keep playing Wiffle ball with Toby or Corky or whatever he calls that kid of his. Roger Clemens is coming back, and probably to the AL East. But he'll only pitch 100 innings. They'll be very good innings, but in a roto league Clemens will have the same effect on your team as an elite middle reliever: maybe six or seven wins, great ratios, and 90 Ks. Nice, but I don't think I'd spend my waiver priority on him. However, in a head-to-head league, the final weeks of the regular season are everything. In head-to-head you really only care about A) making the playoffs, and B) having the best possible playoff roster. Roger Clemens should be owned and stashed on someone's bench in absolutely every head-to-head league. So if he's out there, get him.