July 28, 2010
Hot Spots: Outfield
A Royal Pain: In a foreshadowing of the events to soon take place, a reader asked about the Royals situation last week. Since the Royals most-frequent DH is Jose Guillen, who can also play the outfield, this opened up discussions of several positions. Little could anyone have known that within a few hours, two of the candidates for playing time would be gone – Alberto Callaspo to Los Angeles, and David Dejesus to the disabled list. The Royals wasted no time installing Rick Ankiel back in center field, with Alex Gordon patrolling right field. For now, consider Ankiel recommended, based on his huge power potential. In many ways, Rick Ankiel is much like Tyler Colvin as a hitter, now that Colvin is walking a little more than he did in the minors. Ankiel's career ISO is over .200, even including his years as a pitcher. And against righties, he's hit .255/.321/.471 for his career – and he has played his home games in two parks which suppress power. Keep an eye on Alex Gordon, but just not on your roster (yet).
A Failed Experiment: Michael Brantley should have a future as a major-league player, but its resumption will be sometime in the future as well; he was demoted after a week in which he went 1-for-10 with 3 walks. By comparison, Trevor Crowe is hitting .256/.314/.356, with 10 SB in 250 AB. Grady Sizemore will be a welcome sight in Cleveland next year.
Leading Men: Tyler Colvin collected just three RBI last week. That's noteworthy only due to the fact that he also hit three homers. As noted last week, at least he's getting lots of plate appearances. And with a homer/plate-appearance rate anyone besides Jose Bautista would envy, that's a good thing for fantasy owners. Coco Crisp and Jose Tabata have also been leading off, and Crisp stole another four bases last week, while Tabata hit .400 to go with his lone steal and seven runs scored.
Should They Stay? Felix Pie and Lastings Milledge collected just seven hits between them during the past week, with no homers or steals. For fantasy purposes, Milledge is safer, as only Steve Pearce is (indirectly) applying pressure on him for playing time. But since he was commonly available all year, it's also safe to assume he could be picked back up at any point, so he's getting the “yellow card” this week, as well, to make room for rookie Logan Morrison.
Milling Around: Many of the players who would get more playing time with the rumored trades have been mentioned in previous weeks, such as Domonic Brown of the Phillies, and if Jose Guillen or Scott Podsednik is traded from the Royals, the players who would benefit most aren't outfielders (likely Chris Getz and/or Kila Ka'aihue) or are Mitch Maier, who's been available all year anyway. How about the “backfill” if some of the other names are moved?
Brewers: Carlos Gomez is a player who had some serious fantasy promise entering the season, moving to the National League, and appearing to have a wide-open opportunity to get playing time. But unless Ken Macha is fired, the Brewers won't steal many bases, so a few extra at-bats per week won't help much. Lorenzo Cain has more on-base skills than Gomez, but that doesn't help in most fantasy formats, and he hasn't proven himself at AAA yet, and his Davenport Translation (DT) from AA is a paltry .225/.279/.312. There are many reasons to believe that's an understatement of his current ability, but even playing full time, he wouldn't be much help in mixed leagues.
Nationals: Mike Morse (.261/.315/.409) is already seeing a lot of playing time, as a Jim Riggleman fave. The Nationals don't have anyone queued up to make a difference (Heater lists Chris Marerro as being “stalled” at AA, and he's a first baseman, anyway), so expect to see more time from their numerous veteran utility types if Dunn and/or Willingham depart.
Marlins: Logan Morrison (AAA stats shown above) is being added to the list this week, under the assumption that Chris Coghlan is going to be out. Morrison won't help a lot in a standard fantasy format, and he was playing first base until this season, when Gaby Sanchez made it clear that he had that position under control and Morrison got 19 games in left field before his promotion. In formats where the walks can help and the defense doesn't hurt (e.g. fantasy leagues which use OBP as a category), he could help in 2010, and he's a fine hitting prospect for keeper leagues, as the home-run power should re-emerge with experience (he has 27 extra-base hits in AAA in 238 AB, a good ratio). Cameron Maybin is back from his injury and should get another chance in center field if Cody Ross is traded.
Athletics: Gabe Gross is still a semi-regular starter on this team, so it's difficult to recommend anyone too highly, but Travis Buck can still hit, and he's reportedly healthy now. He's another guy who won't wow a fantasy scoresheet, even when he's going well, since he won't homer or steal a lot, nor hit .300.