Tuesday, May 09, 2006

FANTASY BASEBALL; 'WIRE HELP FOR THE INFIELD?

Man oh Manischevitz, is that bad wine! But to be truthful, who really who likes Kosher wine anyway? But what makes a wine Kosher? It's all in the way the grapes are killed.... just like Kosher chickens and Kosher hamburger. Ever see a chicken wearing a yarmulke? How 'bout a Cow at Friday night services? Actually, scratch the cow thing as I've seen several. Speaking of "wine" and moving right along at breakneck pace, many owners are seeking some cheese and crackers for their "whine."

Highly touted athletes who are, even though it's barely mid-May, underperforming nonetheless:

1st Base:

David Ortiz: Papi's .256 batting average is offset by 11 round-trippers'. Even so, owners were lookin' for an average around... oh, I dunno'. maybe .320-ish? While Boston's gargantuan DH will undoubtedly get his rear in mid-season gear...

Richie Sexson: ... and his .190 average are causing a great deal of consternation amongst owners who were high on the Mariner 1st Bagger who walloped 39 Homers' last season. Sexson's bruised heel might be hindering him at the plate, but a slugging percentage that has fallen 200+ points may also be a reason to try and sell. If you find no takers, sit Sex' til' he starts to hit. A seasoned batsman, he's more likely to come around than to finish the season with an average that falls below his kid's weight.

Mark Teixeira: The dude hits amid a fearsome lineup and has proven himself more than capable of carrying a real team let alone a fantasy squad. After finishing the first month of the '06 season with a line of .293/3/13, his owners had to have taken a step back and said; "this is what I used a 1st round pick on?" Or words to that effect. Rest assured, much like our aforementioned Red Sock brighter days lie ahead for this Texas Ranger. It might be wise to see if you can trade for Tex' while his value is perceived to be lower than it really is.

Chris Shelton: Though it IS hard to find fault with a guy who's hitting at a .296 clip, Shelton is 2 for his last 21 and has launched a mere 1 Home Run since April 18th. After sending 10 balls to the cheap seats over a 13 day period, to say that Shelton has cooled off considerably would be the height of understatement.


2nd Base

Jeff Kent: Wow, did his numbers fall off a cliff! Granted, the Giants aren't exactly the West Coast's answer to New York (Mets or Yanks, take yer' pick), but Kent was arguably fantasy's top 2nd Baseman last season. This season? Let's just say that owners were expecting a bit more than .200/1/14.

Marcus Giles: Next to Kent, the "Hot-Lanta hacker" (25 whiffs in 114 ABs) is the next biggest disappointment at the position! The fact of the matter is, the Braves as a team are disappointing. When the much heralded but lightly compensated pitching coach Leo Mazzone left for the brighter pastures of Baltimore, much of the team's zip seemed to go with him!
As of Tuesday, 5/9, Giles is hitting an anemic .211/1/6/17 with a SLG % of .316 and an OBP of .302. Contrast those diggies' with '05; .291/.461/.365, with 15 HRs and 64 Ribbies'. Although he's trying to bully and bluster his way through this slump, actually breaking out of it may take some time.

Mark Loretta: Logic dictates that Boston would be an ideal location for the former Padre. We'll see, but M-Lo (no relation to J-Lo) is swatting a mere .244 with but 1 Homer'. Hitting .225 going into Sunday's game against the O's, Loretta exited with a .244 average following a 3 fer' afternoon. Another experienced hitter with a sharp eye, Sunday's game could mark the start of a hot streak for the Sock 2nd Sacker.

Mark Ellis: Aside from 3B Eric Chavez and OF Nate Swisher, the A's just aren't a hitting team. Boasting some promising arms, the team makes a living off of solid pitching and great D. However, after hitting .316/13/52 over '05, this year's .223 average is surprising.

Ron Belliard: The Indians have all kinds of young talent; C Victor Martinez, SS Jhonny Peralta, OF Grady Sizemore and 1B Ben Broussard. Looking for Belliard for provide the team with a locker room leader, some on-field maturity, and an above-average bat for a middle infielder, Cleveland can't be pleased with a .265 BA and a Slugging % that, at .350 is a full 100 points lower than last seasons' .450.


Shortstop: While you have to dig a bit to unearth underwhelming 1st Basemen and 2nd Sackers... for the most part, they are acquitting themselves fairly well (aside from Giles and Kent). There are, however, absolutely NO shortage of disappointing fantasy Shortstops once you get past Miggy' and Jeter.

Jimmy Rollins: The past 2 seasons have seen the Philly' Shortstop rapidly ascend to rank amongst the games elite. This season, though, his .270 average isn't exactly formidable. That being said, Rollins is on pace to at least tie... and quite possibly eclipse, last season's Home Run, RIB, Run, and Walk totals. Before his owners look past the average and catch on to what's actually happening... you might think about making a move for Fast-Jimmy!

Rafael Furcal: No mystery here. Raffie's sucken' eggs, plain and simple. The Dodgers, like the Giants, aren't exactly Smackin'' the white off' the ball. Still, Furcal has established himself as one of the games top shortys'. So... whattup' with the career low .211 BA, .260 SLG, and .322 (.321 is his career low, but he's currently close envoy'!) OBP? Worse yet, Furcal's real value lies in his great speed. So again I ask, "whattup' with a scant 7 Swiped Bags and 3 Doubles? The Dodgers' crappy lineup really hampers Furcal... and his season may not improve much.

Bobby Crosby: At this point, the Penguins' Sidney Crosby might be able to play a better Shortstop! Look, DH Frank Thomas's best days are behind him, C Jason Kendall has always been over-rated, 1B Dan Johnson isn't putting up the kinds of numbers GM Billy Beane anticipated he would, and RF Milton Bradley is forever hobbled by one injury or another. Only 3B Eric Chavez and OF/1B Nick Swisher make opposing pitchers think twice about grooving a pitch. Croz' may be hitting .221/4/14, but over the last few days he seems to be shaking free of the funk. Might think about grabbing him or at least activating him if he's on your roster.

3rd Basemen:

Aramis Ramirez: The Cubby', hitting .223, has probably been the most disappointing player at this position. That being said, it could be that Ramirez's recent hot streak indicates that he's shaken free from his lumber's slumber!

Chone Figgins: Go figure, Figgins is floundering! Versatile almost to a fault, Figgins, who qualifies at several positions, has seen his numbers fall steadily since 2004. This year, in particular, the Angel is having a tough time at the plate. After hitting .296 in both '03 and '04, Figgy' hit .290 last season and is at .271 this year. Worse still for owners who placed great stock in the Angels' base stealing ability, Figgins stole 62 bags in '05 and is on pace for 45 or so this season. Certainly stick with him... but if you can move Chone and fill a position of need do it. Many owners have already begun to do so.

Aubrey Huff: Huff's struggles aren't new to fantasy buffs. After a string of productive years ('02-'04 saw Huff average .304 with almost 100 HRs), Huff's .261/22/92 '05 season was a serious let down. As of today Huff, whose been injured for much of the year, is hanging a line of .188/3/5; ghastly-bad.


WHO'S HOT?

1st Basemen

Nomar Garciaparra: My pre-season pick for "Comeback Player of the Year," Nomah' is crushing the ball. Swatting .296/.537/.371, owners who held out and kept Garciaparra on their rosters are being well rewarded for their patience. The Dodger 1B has hit 2 HRs, 5 Doubles and a Triple in 54 Abs.

Nick Johnson: While the Nat' cornerman won't be on the 'Wire, he's hitting .313, is finally staying healthy, and he's showing the kind of stuff that at one time made him the Yankees' most highly regarded prospect.

Conor Jackson: Simply smashing, Jackson, the Diamondbacks' 24 year old prized prospect, is just beginning to round out his game. Currently sitting atop a .300 average with a .489 SLG %, the promising D-Back is discriminating at the plate and should see his power production increase. Of his 27 hits, 11 have been for extra bases; 3 HRs and 8 Doubles. Definitely make a grab for him if you belong to a Keeper league and have need of a solid corner infielder. Without question, Jackson should be at the very top of the voting for the NL Rookie of the Year.

Ben Broussard: The Indian slugger may still be available in your league, but if continues to hit at a scorching .390-ish pace... he'll get snatched up by week's end!

Lyle Overbay: Overbay, eh'? Yup'! Toronto's 30 year old 1st Baseman is finally making good upon his talent and is crushing alot! Currently hitting .292 and becoming ever more difficult to strike out, Overbay forms a solid corner infield punch with monstrously powerful Bluejay 3B Troy Glaus.

2nd Basemen:

Dan Uggla: The Marlins are forever looking to dump salary and plug in young, inexpensive performers. And, therein lies a helluva' good case for contraction. But, since the league and player's union will fight contraction all the way to the supreme Court if they can... Baseball fans are stuck with a club that draws upwards of 6,600 to Friday night games! Whew! I think my local High School's production of "Bye-Bye Birdie" drew a larger crowd!
But back to Uggla. At first glance, the only thing that might grab your attention is Dan's last name, "Uggla." Poor guy must've had a rough childhood; "hey Dan, you really are "Uggly!" Or, "your momma's an Uggla woman, Dan." But then Dan grew to become a 5-11/200 pound Baseball player capable of kicking his former classmates asses... and wealthy enough to pay someone to do it for him. Again, I digress.
Uggla's bat won't wow you, but he's quietly competent at the dish; .278/4/14, with 3 SB, 6 Doubles and a Triple in 114 plate appearances. Should he remain available, grab his "Uggla-ass!"

Rickie Weeks: After much "Weeks has Rookie of the Year written all over him" hype, the Brewer young'un is finally coming around at the plate; .277 and 12 for his last 32 (that's a .375 BA).

Ian Kinsler: After sending Alfonso Soriano to Washington, the Rangers were eager to see what prized prospect Ian Kinsler was capable of. After promoting him, Kinsler handled himself with ease at the plate, whacking his way to 15 total bases in 21 ABs, and a .476/.714/.577 line before dislocating his thumb on April 11th. Expected to be back with the parent club no later than the end of May, savvy owners in need of middle infield power won't hesitate to pull the trigger and snag Kinsler before another owner does!

Shortstops:

Jack Wilson: After a stellar '04 (.308/11/59, with 41 Doubles and 12 Triples), Wilson came roaring back with a .257/8/52, 24 Doub', 7 Trip' 2005 campaign. A season, mind you, wherein the Pirate's SLG % plummeted by 100 points and his OBP by 36 points. This year, though, it would seem as if the old Jack "Black" Wilson is back! On fire and hitting .313/.500/.366 with 5 Homers' and 15 RBIs, Wilson is one of the young "Buccs'" who is providing blossoming OF'er Jason Bay with such solid protection. He is, however, doing it quietly as the Pirates national exposure is negligible.

Ryan Zimmerman: He could be a SS or 3B predicated upon your league. Whatever the case, Zimm' is suffering the highs and lows most youngsters not named "Albert Pujols" do. At .246/4/17 and with 6 Doubles and 15 Walks, he hasn't been quite as successful as the Nationals' coaching staff initially believed he'd be. Unused to struggling at the plate, Zimmerman managed to obliterate all opposing pitching as a minor leaguer. And now that he's made it to "The Show," Zimm' is learning that every starting pitcher, for the most part, possesses great stuff. Available through most leagues' Waiver Wires, expect the light to come on and for the National hot-corner man to have a BIG summer.

3rd Basemen:

Kevin Youkilis: If... if the Sock infielder remains unclaimed, another game or 2 such as he's enjoyed of late will ensure his being claimed. Kevin Youkilis, who qualifies as a 1st and 3rd Baseman depending upon your league's rules, is 13 for his last 22 (.399).

Edwin Encarnacion: "Double-E" is seeing the ball, and alongside fellow Red sluggers Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns... who's re-established himself as a top young talent, Encarnacion is rewarding those owners who jumped on him after some eye-popping early season performances. At .295/5/26 and with 11 Doubles in just 105 ABs, Encarnacion's upside seems limitless.

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