Hotpage June 9, 2014 (Week 11) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 09 June 2014 00:00

Another week pushing towards the summer, and two more advances--in fact a pair of signings--graced the American League this week.

The Twins, who waited till the early June date so, as with the other MLB teams, they would not forfeit a pick by acquiring Kendrys Morales did just that, pretty much surprising all of us. But, the Twins, who are two games below .500 and just five games back, are to be commended for taking a shot in what has become so much of a fun free-for-all thanks to the expanded wild card format baseball has embraced.

Morales will join the Twins and will probably own the DH slot from now on out (provided he does not break a limb stomping onto home plate). The owner of a 162-game mean of .280-27-90 over his seven years, Morales is a pretty good gamble if you want or need some hitting.

But, it is odd that vet Jason Kubel wound up on the short end of that stick. I have to think someone needing some left-handed pop will take a chance on the streaky hitter, so I would not dump Kubel and would bid on him as FAAB going to an NL-only format.

By the way, weird to see Jason Lane up and back down, and now Scott Sizemore go down. For it was Sizemore's injury a few years back that opened the door for Josh Donaldson to play third in Oakland. Odd how that works: the Zen of baseball in action.

Similarly, the Astros inked Jon Singleton to a new long-term deal and handed him the keys to first base. Singleton, who knocked his second homer--a slam--Sunday along with George Springer suggests the Astros are seriously starting the upside of their rebuild, which will be a lot of fun to watch.

I would have grabbed either in any league, were they available. However, let's talk about Nick Castellanos, whom I have in a couple of leagues, and whom I benched in one. The Detroit third sacker hit just .233-3-14 for April this year, and .233-1-6 for May, but seems to have made an adjustment, hitting .611-1-1 over five games and 18 at-bats in June. Granted, this is a small sample, but he has only whiffed once and walked once over that span (four walks to 17 whiffs in April, seven walks to 26 in May), and that is very encouraging. I would keep a serious eye on him. And, due to that poor start, in a shallow mixed NFBC format, he might well be a free agent.

This is the time of year when if my pitching is doing well, I try to mitigate any potential damage by streaming middle relievers and checking starts and match-ups just to see. Ubaldo Jimenez, on my otherwise very strong AL Tout staff, is the case in point. I had thought after four starts that Jimenez had worked into a sort of decent fifth starter groove, but he is still way too erratic to trust. So, there are a few middle guys I would like to have, starting with the Orioles, and Darren O'Day.

O'Day, a sneaky side-armer, has long been a fave of mine with a career 22-9, 2.79 mark, with a great 1.047 WHIP and 301 strikeouts over 333.6 frames. This year, he is 2-0, 1.01 over 26.6 innings, with a pair of saves and a 1.050 WHIP. Very consistent, unlikely to hurt himself, and easy to replace.

Another pretty good option is Jason Frasor, now with the Tigers, who is 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA over 21 frames this year, with 22 whiffs (though a somewhat alarming 10 walks) and a 1.143 WHIP. The beauty of streaming these guys is that there are always a few out there, so they can be interchangeable and cheap. Plus, one bad inning, which is the worst they will do, should not hurt nearly as much as one Ubaldo Jimenez start these days.

Speaking of Ubaldo, Kevin Gausman had an excellent start against Oakland and Sonny Gray Saturday, hurling seven innings and holding a potent Athletics team to just a run and four hits plus a walk. The former #1 pick of the Orioles in 2012 earned his first win and he is certainly worth a grab.

While we are at it in Baltimore, keep an eye peeled for Dylan Bundy, who is set to start a minor league game and is throwing around 94 MPH. He could join the rotation after the break if the Orioles rotation--of whom Wei-Yin Chen has the lowest ERA at 4.11--does not settle down with some kind of clear ace.

Let's finish with one more #1, looking at Cam Bedrosian, the top pick of the Angels in 2010, and son of Cy Young winning reliever Steve Bedrosian. Bedrock the younger is indeed following in the footsteps of his esteemed reliever pop, and though he got knocked around his first couple of games in the Majors, he was 1-0, 1.12 with eight saves over 24 innings at two minor league levels this year. He has 45 strikeouts to eight walks and just six hits allowed (0.583 WHIP) and he could very well pick up some save chances if Ernesto Frieri stumbles again. I have to think he is their closer of the future, and the future could well be very soon.

Last Updated on Monday, 09 June 2014 08:56
Hotpage June 2, 2014 (Week 10) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 02 June 2014 00:00

I am just back from time at our mountain house, where as I have noted we have no television or radio. We do have Internet, but that is all.

So, I can write, and track scores, but I don't listen to games and certainly don't watch any. Mostly, I look at the trannies and the box scores and that is it, so it was weird to come home on Sunday and while looking at the day's boxes, see that there were six shutouts.

That's pretty good and fun in a week that features a lot of anticipated stars, but let's start with Roenis Elias, Seattle's new flash who tossed one of those sets of goose-eggs for his first Major League complete game, whiffing eight, allowing just three hits and a walk, bringing his season totals to 4-4, 3.41 with 65 whiffs over 76 innings, with 27 walks. Elias did get clubbed around his last start (five runs, eight hits over 6.3 innings) but he is exactly the kind of arm I would target right now if you need to take a chance: enough starts to get the hang of the Show as the warm weather arrives.

Switching to less mundane things, the Cards' Oscar Taveras was finally given a shot, and he homered his first game, against the Giants. And, I am not so sure what I can tell you that you don't already know? .321-52-315 minor league line over 423 games with an .896 OPS. Matt Adams' injury cleared the path for Taveras, but rest assured, now that he is here, he isn't going anywhere but in the lineup every day. Taveras is the NL's answer to George Springer this year. At least so far. If you can grab him, do.

Just as interesting, not quite so marquis, is the Braves' new second sacker Tommy La Stella, who has a .322-21-167 line with 63 doubles and 34 minor league steals. La Stella has a great eye with 136 walks to 102 whiffs, good for a .407 OBP over 288 games. La Stella will never hit with the power of Dan Uggla, whom he replaces, but at least he will get on base and score some runs and cause some grief on the basepaths. I have to think that is of more value.

One additional exciting promotion--albeit temporary--was the one-day visit of the Red Sox Garin Cecchini. A fourth-round pick of Boston in 2010, Cecchini is another youngster who can take a walk (192 walks to 235 strikeouts, and a .408 OBP) and a .307-15-167 line over 329 games. Boston might have to make some decisions with Brock Holt as Stephen Drew is back at shortstop, pushing Xander Bogaerts to third (and Cecchini back to Pawtucket). Short term, Holt will be filling in at first base as Mike Napoli, Mike Carp and Ryan Lavarnway are all on the disabled list – Spinal Tap anyone? Cecchini’s development may make Will Middlebrooks deadline trade bait. If Cecchini’s short recall makes him eligible in your league, he’s worth a stash as he should be pretty good in a Kevin Youkilis way.

Should you be jonesing for some speed, the Mariners just revived the career of Endy Chavez. Well, at least that is how we thought of Chavez, who swiped 18 in 2003 and 32 in 2004 for Montreal, but just 47 since including just one last year over 97 games and 266 at-bats (.267-2-14 with a .298 OBP). He might be a vet, but pass.

The Phils promoted big (6'7" 260 pound) Phillippe Aumont, the Mariners' first-round pick in 2007, who was then swapped in exchange for Cliff Lee in 2009. Aumont is a reliever, but he could slowly move into the closer role (he notched a pair last year) as Jonathan Papelbon ages. Aumont earned 43 saves over seven seasons in the Minors with 429 whiffs but with 240 walks and a 1.512 WHIP. He is worth keeping an eye on for future considerations, but not much more.

Yes, that is the same Dana Eveland the Mets promoted who pitched for the Orioles and Athletics and Brewers and Pirates and Dodgers and Diamondbacks over his past 11 professional years and eight Major League seasons. Eveland is still just 30, believe it or not, but I would not count on some form of Scott Kazmir-like transmogrification into a decent starter. Left-handed situations are about as much as I would trust him with at most. Kind of a Jamey Wright type, with a career mark of 19-25 over 392.6 innings, with a 5.46 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. I may like looking at vets to help plug roster holes, but this is where I stop.

I have always liked the Orioles' Francisco Peguero, who was originally signed by the Giants in 2005 out of the Dominican Republic. Peguero has a pretty good .307-36-359 stat line over 706 games. The problem for Peguero is 111 walks to 502 strikeouts and a .338 minor league OBP. That has not translated into any kind of big league anything, but Peguero could have a hot streak that could help in an AL-only setup.

Last Updated on Monday, 02 June 2014 14:12
Hotpage May 26, 2014 (Week 9) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 26 May 2014 00:00

Here we are, Memorial Day 2014, and as I conjure, this would be the 18th time I have concocted a piece for this space. If you have been along for the ride all these years, I humbly thank you. So, as usual, I wish a safe and happy holiday to you and yours.

OK, enough for pleasantries. In a week that followed the migration of Kyle Blanks from the National League to the American, we now have Nick Hundley, similarly leaving Southern California, though this time for the other coast and the Orioles. Like Blanks joining Oakland, Hundley could indeed be a nice fit for the Orioles, splitting time with Matt Wieters back-up Steve Clevenger.

Since Wieters could indeed be down, at least from playing behind the dish, for quite a spell, Hundley (.271-1-3 over 39 games, but with just a .271 OBP) could get a boost from the move and new home. In an AL-only setup, he is worth a few bucks as a FAAB selection, but I don't have the same feel for upside as I did Blanks last week.

While we are at it, after what, six months of speculation, Stephen Drew finally has returned to Boston, where he hit a decent .253-13-67 last year over 124 games, to go with a .333 OBP (54 walks, 124 whiffs). Drew is one of those classic players and roto hopefuls, full of talent and speculation after being a first-round pick in 2004 who has had a reasonable career (is he better than Neil Walker?) and yet one that fell below anticipation (is he worse than Neil Walker?). Drew might get some playing time when he works his way back from his minor league assignment, but even with Will Middlebrooks out, I would think more playing time will go to Brock Holt as long as the Sox struggle below the .500 mark.

The bulk of interesting moves this week seemed to all fall to the American League, where another disappointing star of the future, Mike Moustakas finally ran out of time in Kansas City. So, the Royals called up Jimmy Paredes to fill the slot (as well as back up second base and the outfield). Danny Valencia is down for a bit with a sprained hand, but I would expect him to hang onto the hot corner when healthy. Paredes could be a little help in a deep format if you need speed, and he was hitting .327-3-17 at Omaha when summoned, but with just five walks to 28 whiffs this year (119:481 in the Minors), I see no role better than a bench spot ever.

That said, players like Paredes often do have a run a la Eduardo Escobar, who with 164 minor league walks to 507 whiffs, has a similar profile to Paredes (they differ in age by 41 days, even). Well, Escobar has been red-hot, hitting .337-1-7 and who seems to be starting at short on a daily basis in Minnesota these days. As noted many times: ride the hot hand, and Escobar has one, and is likely available in a lot of mixed formats. Just don't try to predict a streak, and certainly don't be afraid to cut loose when--and if--his bat chills down a mite.

One encouraging thing in San Diego-land was the good performance by Tim Stauffer, who had a nice showing Friday night during his first start (five IP, two hits, one walk, five whiffs) since 2012 (five innings, seven hits, four runs, three walks, five whiffs). That start was it for Stauffer, who looked like a good young arm, then fell to arm surgery, and might be returning to form. Stauffer has a 2-0, 1.90 mark right now, with 23 whiffs, a 1.225 WHIP and just one dinger allowed. In a way, his path is not unlike that of Dustin McGowan, but at this point I kind of like Stauffer to pick it up from here on out. He is a good gamble. while McGowan no longer is.

Seattle recalled the somewhat lost Nick Franklin, probably because Brad Miller's bat (.156-3-11) was so weak. Unfortunately, Franklin, hitting .154-0-1, is not much better, though in 30 fewer games. Ultimately, I like Miller and his .925 minor league OPS (.334-27-128) to Franklin (.293-53-193 with an .839 OPS), however.

Now is the time to grab Trevor Bauer 9-1, 2.25 over a pair of starts (13 K over 12 innings, but 11 hits and two homers suggest he is around the plate). Bauer was 4-1, 2.15 at Columbus this year with 44 strikeouts over 46 frames and a 1.087 WHIP. At least if he is there to grab, but this is Bauer's third go at the Majors, and I find this sort of a make or break number for most young players in that he has figured it out now (which is good) or not (ask Mike Moustakas, after his third year). So, if you are going to gamble, now is the time.

Darin Ruf is also back in Phillie-land, also for the third time, coming off hitting .261-1-4 over 12 minor league games. Much like Moustakas, much of our anticipation of Ruf was based upon a monster minor league season (.317-38-104 at Reading in 2012), but the big question is where will he play? Since third base is what the Phils need help at right now, I would pass.

I am not sure how St. Louis keeps coming up with these guys, but with Kevin Siegrist injured, take a peek at Sam Freeman, who struggled out of the pen in 2012 (0-2, 5.40 over 20 innings), did much better last year (1-0, 2.19 over 12.3 innings) and is now back. A lefty, Freeman does have 275 whiffs in the Minors over 288.3 innings, along with a 1.255 WHIP. If you need to fill a middle spot, a guy like Freeman on a team like the Cards can be a help.

Last Updated on Monday, 26 May 2014 13:52
Hotpage May 19, 2014 (Week 8) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 19 May 2014 00:00

My goodness, what a goofy season. Steve Pearce released, then re-signed by the same team a day later. Kyle Farnsworth released and picked up and released and picked up (all the while Heath Bell is available).

How about Prince Fielder hurt and Matt Kemp doing OK? Or, every hot second year killer pitcher in the world needs to have surgery while Mark Buehrle and Scott Kazmir are flourishing?

Go figure.

While we are at it, let's try to figure Kyle Blanks, now with the Athletics. Now, I admit some moves are better than others, but Blanks is just about as perfect a fit on the Athletics as can be imagined. For one, as essentially a member of the island of lost players--those with flashes of great skill--as are Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson, Scott Kazmir, and now Drew Pomeranz, to name a few.

The beauty of the Oakland schema is indeed using those individual skills as part of a collective, something Oakland does better than any other team. So, with Blanks, the team now has a perfect right-handed first base/outfield counterpart to Moss. I think he could get 300 plate appearances between now and the end of the season, and hit 10-12 homers in that role. Just saying.

Speaking of those same Athletics, I like the Yankees' Chase Whitley in very much a Jesse Chavez kind of way. Whitley, like Chavez, has mostly been a reliever over the course of his minor league career, and similarly has been much of a journeyman in the Minors. In fact, Whitley has only 14 starts over his 151 minor league appearances, with 11 of them occurring over the past two years. The right-hander was 3-2, 2.39 this year over six starts and 26.3 innings at Triple-A before being called up, and he tossed 4.6 scoreless frames Thursday for his first start. I don't think Whitley will be deadly, but until the league gets a book on him, he could be useful in an AL-only format.

Across town, the Mets' ninth-round selection in 2009, Jacob deGrom, had a pretty good start against the very same Monsieur Whitley, and deGrom actually out-pitched him, going seven innings, allowing four hits and a run, but earning the loss in a 1-0 game. deGrom has 267 whiffs over 323.3 frames, and went 4-0, 2.58 this year at Las Vegas, and he is just one more in a cluster of young New York arms who could emerge. And, I do have a better feeling about Whitley's prospects this year.

Before I get too far from from Blanks and that first basemen/outfield link, if you have Prince Fielder, or are in a league where Mitch Moreland is still available, he might indeed get a spike in  playing time with Fielder limited. Moreland has generally fared better with the warm weather, and he can be very streaky. Still, he should be good for the same 10-12 dingers as Blanks.

So, with the incredible proliferation of injuries all over, while some younger prospects might get a chance, the opportunity for vets to get a last hurrah also exists, so the Nationals' Greg Dobbs, a veteran left-handed stick, can play third--though he only qualifies at first at this juncture--and again, is one of those guys who has the pop and if he sticks for the remainder of the season could belt a handful of dingers in an NL-only set-up.

The White Sox demoted Jeff Keppinger after he was reactivated (per the front office, they want Conor Gillaspie, Marcus Semien and Gordon Beckham to get the playing time right now), meaning the utilityman will probably be grabbed on waivers somewhere with so many fallen gladiators of the diamond this season. Keppinger boasts some pop and some speed, and even some position flexibility as he should qualify at first, second, and third. In fact, if a National League team gets him, I am bidding some LABR FAAB on him to plug my third base hole.

Maybe now is the time for Anthony Gose, who is still just 23, and who is hitting .286-0-2 but has a .929 OPS over his first couple of games. Gose has a couple of swipes and five walks to four whiffs so far. Maybe now is the time. Looks good, though it is a small sample.

Finally, Jaime Garcia is back with the Cardinals and got a Sunday start (seven innings, four runs) and the truth is as a fifth or sixth starter you may be tempted, but Garcia is one of those arms who simply scares me. Despite a career 3.45 ERA, it is the 1.328 WHIP, and 2.67 strikeout-to-walk number that makes me skeptical. I would rather risk on a Hector Santiago guy, who might have a schizo WHIP, but who can dominate with strikeouts and really kick it to another level.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 May 2014 15:08
Hotpage May 12, 2014 (Week 7) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 12 May 2014 00:00

It is not that I look for a theme from week-to-week but this week seemed another one of those rounds of reclamation, with a bunch of familiar names coming back for another bash at the Show.

However, there was also one premiere promotion, that of the Rangers' Rougned Odor, who is filling in for Donnie Murphy, who is filling in for Jurickson Profar, who replaced Ian Kinsler. This is the kid who last year, at 19, hit .305-5-59 at Myrtle Beach, and then moved up to Double-A Frisco, where over 30 games he hit .306-6-19. Compare that to the .279-6-17 he is hitting this year over 32 games at the same level, and it seems safe to say the youngster can handle himself at that level. This is a jump for Odor, but Texas is pretty good at picking players of his ilk, and moving them forth at the right time. Odor is more than worth a gamble here, even knowing there could be pending position battles on the horizon.

Pittsburgh, sitting on Gregory Polanco, promoted Jaff Decker, acquired from the Padres during the off-season. Decker, a #1 selection of the Friars in 2008, has pretty much stalled, however, since his .236-9-92 of 2011, which also produced a solid .373 OBP (103 walks to 145 whiffs, 15 steals and 29 doubles). Decker did get 13 games of Petco attention last year (.154-1-2), but that was apparently inconsequential enough for San Diego to swap him. On a pretty good and young Pirates team, he is probably no better than a spare part, albeit an intriguing one.

I have been a David Phelps fan since his debut in the bigs in 2012, and though he has indeed been up and down (194 strikeouts over 204.3 innings with a pretty good 1.293 WHIP), Phelps does well enough with the strikeouts-to-walks (81 free passes) but homers (25) are mostly his bane. Since the Yankees' rotation is limping with both Michael Pineda and C.C. Sabathia on the DL, Phelps has greatness, if not opportunity, thrown upon him. He is a totally fine risk in an AL format, and in a deeper mixed league could even be of some use.

I truly wondered why the Giants picked up Tyler Colvin, he of the Saberhagenmetric powers numbers of 20 homers in 2010, six in 2011, 18 in 2012, then three last year. The Giants have--err had--Brandon Belt, with Mike Morse and Buster Posey each able to cover first. So, Belt gets hurt, and Colvin becomes useful as a left-handed outfield/first base option in a park with a short wall to right. And, it isn't like I am superstitious, but, it is an even year.

In a deeper league, Lucas Duda could well still be floating around in the free agent pool. He is the first baseman in New York now, with Ike Davis in Pittsburgh and Josh Satin now sent down. Duda has hit 15 homers in each of the past two seasons, and at present has a more than respectable .260-4-15 line.

As for Davis, he has been hot, posting a .375-0-3 line over the last couple of weeks, and he has five walks to seven whiffs. Like Duda, Davis has worked himself into full-time play. I confess, however, I cannot be an objective judge, having spent $25 on the guy last year and picked him in another league. Not to mention making him my #1 pick in my long-term keeper Strat-O-Matic following his rookie year. Meaning you are on your own.

I don't remember Efren Navarro playing in the Majors, but apparently the Angels outfielder did scrape together a few at-bats. Navarro, 27, actually has some pretty good minor league numbers with a .296-42-420 basic line, and he had a pretty good .360 minor league OBP that mostly took a hit after he reached Triple-A three years ago. But, this year he has 18 walks to 21 whiffs (146 to 247 previously), a seemingly nice improvement. He is a left-handed first base/outfield option (is another theme revealing itself?), and Los Angeles of the American League is thin at both locations. The problem is Navarro does not have a ton of power, nor is he a killer base stealer. He does have some gaps pop (208 doubles), but I would not count on a long term in Anaheim.

Chris Parmelee, come on down. Left-handed. First base/outfield. Strikes out too much. Pass.

If you are in a deep AL league and need some catching help, Steve Clevenger of the Orioles will be getting more at-bats with Matt Wieters hurting. In fact, Wieters may not be able to catch for awhile with a bad arm (talk is he may be able to return to DH). Clevenger is hitting .256-0-5 over 13 games.

Finally, Reid Brignac, Tampa Bay's second-round selection in 2004, is now back up with the Phillies, his third team since the Rays gave up on him in early 2013, making the utility man a "player to be named later." Then, Brignac went to the Yankees (.114-0-0 last year over 44 at-bats, with one walk) and he is now with the Phils. He is one of those guys that might string together a solid 35 games in the Majors, at some point. However, I have no illusions he will do it now.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 May 2014 12:39
Hotpage May 5, 2014 (Week 6) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 05 May 2014 00:00

As we plow into May, a handful of more than interesting prospects were promoted during the week, and there were even a couple of veterans who deserve a look, starting with the ever goofy life of Steve Pearce.

The Baltimore first sacker, whose week was worthy of one of my "Life and Death in the Transactions" Mastersblog pieces, was released by the Orioles Sunday, claimed by the Jays (he declined) on Tuesday (which he declined) and then signed the same day back with the Orioles.

Over the week, Pearce, filling in for the obliquely injured Chris Davis, hit .313-0-2 since his return to Camden, and if you need to fill a corner slot in an AL-only format, he is as good a guy as you will get. True, Pearce has a big swing and is streaky, but he also put up a decent enough .261-4-13 line last year over 119 at-bats, and is hitting a similar .261 now after his past week's toiling. That will not hurt should you need to fill a slot.

I like the Brewers' Caleb Gindl, up to spell the outfield with Ryan Braun ailing, although I confess Gindl is puzzling. I say this about a player who has 335 minor league walks to 638 minor league punch-outs, good to help post a .366 OBP thanks to a .293 batting average. Yet last year, over 57 games, the former fifth-round selection in 2007 walked 20 times to 25 whiffs, posting a .340 OBP with a .242 average. Weird. Anyway, again, in a deep NL, Gindl offers some speed and will probably function as the #4 guy.

At our Passover Seder, Richard Kweller asked me why no one had claimed Sam Fuld off waivers after the Athletics ran out of slots and had to offer the outfielder up to the world. Well, a day later the Twins did indeed grab Fuld. A pretty good role player, he is hitting .286 with six swipes this year, and with Aaron Hicks hurt, Fuld will get to start pretty much every day till Hicks returns. The Twins might find themselves in the same pickle as the Athletics when Hicks and Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia return, but for now he can give you some speed.

Sticking with the Twinkies, another speed source could well be shortstop Danny Santana, whom the team brought up to help with some middle infield production. Santana is largely of the Ben Revere/Jonathan Villar ilk of less than powerful hitters, but he makes decent enough contact with a .274 average over 2,138 minor league at-bats, having 432 strikeouts, but just 122 walks. Santana has 117 swipes in the Minors, but just a .318 OBP, so he could be a bit of a risk, but steals are still steals.

Grant Green is one of those puzzles: a guy who can totally rake in the Minors (.309-57-308 over 507 games) but with a .255 average over 151 at-bats, it makes the former first-rounder (in 2009) a bit more puzzling. Although Green did hit .280-1-16 last year with the Angels and with so many Halos injured, Green could see some serious playing time. Plus, he is one of those guys who once he gets the hitting hang, could be really good in a Michael Young kind of way.

And, while we are with the Angels, the hospital squad has also promoted first sacker C.J. Cron to help add a little pop. Cron, the Angels' first-round pick in 2011, out of the University of Utah, has an excellent .289-60-273 line over 325 minor league games, having advanced a level a season since signing. Before his call-up this week, Cron was hitting .319-6-26 over his first 28 games. Cron does like to swing the bat (.332 OBP) but like Green, on a generally aging Angels team, the first baseman could help pave the way for a new generation. He does make for an interesting pick in an AL-only, but I fear that swing might be outmatched at this point.

Speaking of first-rounders, the Jays promoted Marcus Stroman, a first-round selection of the Nationals in 2009, whom Washington swapped for Denard Span in 2012. Stroman is on the small side at 5'9", but he still manages to generate a lot of torque thus movement on his offerings. Stroman has 188 whiffs over 157.6 innings, with a 14-7, 3.03 ERA. Before his call-up, Stroman was 2-2, 1.69 at Buffalo, with a 1.088 WHIP (26.6 IP, 22 hits, seven walks, 36 whiffs, and no homers) and though he will start his Major League life in the pen, don't figure that will last too long.

Finally, I am not sure why there is something about Nate Karns, drafted by the Nationals in 2009, then traded last off-season to the Rays, for this is a guy with an 0-1, 7.50 mark over 12 big league innings, and a guy who is 2-2, 8.20 this year with six homers allowed over 26.3 innings. I guess it is because as a minor leaguer, he is 26-14, 3.11 over 330.3 innings, with 395 whiffs to 146 walks and 238 hits allowed (1.162 WHIP) and that includes those awful 2014 totals. He may not be ready for prime time yet, but Karns is surely worth watching.

Last Updated on Monday, 05 May 2014 09:29
Hotpage April 28, 2014 (Week 5) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 28 April 2014 00:00

If you somehow managed to make it through this past week without getting hit by injury, my cap is off to you.

I am guessing the bottom line is otherwise, and there are so many that let's cut to the chase and look at the injured, and who might benefit with some playing time as a result.

The Orioles have a huge hole at first, but were still confident enough in the wake of Chris Davis going down to release the closest thing they had to a first sacker in Steve Pearce. Nick Markakis has filled in so far, and though David Lough has gotten outfield at-bats, Delmon Young, hitting .306-1-4, should benefit. Super utilityman Steve Lombardozzi might follow the Alberto Callaspo path, and get some time in at first as well. Ryan Flaherty becomes viable as well, but the reality is of all those mentioned, Young and Lombardozzi are the pair whom I would hand time to.

Conor Gillaspie getting hurt in Chicago comes at a lucky time, as the White Sox just got Gordon Beckham back. That means Marcus Semien will continue to see playing time. Semien is an OK play in an AL-only format, and is a nice future play in a mixed league.

Brayan Pena, hitting .286-0-2 with a pair of swipes, becomes the beneficiary in the wake of Devin Mesoraco going down till at least mid-May with a hamstring strain.

Chris Stewart, just activated himself, will get the playing time with Russell Martin also down with a bad hammie. Stewart is not really much of an offensive threat, although his career strikeout-to-walk total is 59 walks to 99 punchouts, which is actually pretty good. If he can hit .250, Stewart can post a .330 or so OBP, though that too might be a stretch.

Chase Headley is out for a bit with a calf strain, and some combination of Alexi Amarista and Jedd Gyorko will cover, most likely with Gyorko, who moved to second from the hot corner last year, moving there and Amarista, who has played six games at third in 2014 for San Diego, more likely a second baseman. Amarista was an interesting minor league player, but he has not really hit with any authority in the Majors, so look elsewhere for now.

Mark Trumbo and Cody Ross played DL yin/yang much like Gordon Beckham and Conor Gillaspie. Trust Ross for sure, although he could be a tad rusty getting back into a groove. But, if available, Ross is as good a sub as you will get and at this time of the year would be a good pick off the reserve list in a mixed format anyway.

Michael Cuddyer also has a hurting hamstring, and that likely means that Charlie Blackmon gets to keep it going, as will Corey Dickerson in the outfield, while Justin Morneau will get everyday play at first. Drew Stubbs could be a gamble, but I like Jordan Pacheco, who was the team's platoon first sacker last year, was their third sacker the year before, and who is the #2 catcher right now as a flexible pick-up who also might get some added playing time. Pacheco has a career .287 average over 254 games and a .353-0-2 line this year over six games.

Bryce Harper addded to his frustrating season by spraining his thumb, again fortuitously just as Denard Span returned from his own injury issues. Washington has Nate McLouth in their outfield, but he has hit an anemic .097-0-0 so far over 19 games, and Tyler Moore, who raised eyebrows in 2012 (10 homers over 156 at-bats) and lowered them last year (.222-4-21 over 167 at-bats). The guy I would watch is Kevin Frandsen, who has played seven games in the outfield, boasts a little speed, and at .267-0-3 boasts the best resume this year of the group.

Jean Segura had the misfortune of walking, face first, into a Ryan Braun practice swing but the Brew-crew will try to make due with Jeff Bianchi during their shortstop's absence. Scooter Gennett did play some short his first year in the Minors, but the question is why would Milwaukee move him in deference to the still lousy hitting Rickie Weeks (.172-0-0) when Bianchi can cover and hit no worse? Segura needed stitches, but is day-to-day.

Anibal Sanchez is down with a laceration on his middle finger, which moves Drew Smyly up the rotation food chain. Smyly is a good addition if available, and the Tigers brought Justin Miller back but really, the bullpen man who has the most experience is Phil Coke. However, Coke is at best mop-up right now. Aside from grabbing Smyly, if available, leave this hole alone.

However, I might take a chance on the Astros' Collin McHugh, who shut out Seattle over 6 2/3 innings, striking out 12 earlier in the week, then came within an out of shutting out Oakland to finish the week. Now 2-0, after starting his career 0-8, McHugh has a minor league resume of 37-28, 3.36, over 652.6 innings with a 1.263 WHIP and 631 strikeouts to 199 walks and 625 hits. He is the guy I would grab this week, even over the White Sox Scott Carroll.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 April 2014 07:23
Hotpage April 21, 2014 (Week 4) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 21 April 2014 00:00

One manner in which baseball has become so much more fun the last bunch of years is with the promotion of prospects earlier in the season than in the "old days."

Over the last few years, we have seen Mike Trout, Manny Machado and Jose Fernandez, to name a few, advance to the Majors and make an almost immediate mark (OK, it took the second time for Trout).

Well, the 2014 influx has now begun with the Astros promotion of outfielder George Springer (which unfortunately meant the demotion of a guy I like a lot, Robbie Grossman).

A first-rounder in 2011, Springer has 284 minor league games under his belt, with a .302-65-207 line that includes 85 swipes, which includes his excellent .303-37-108 2013 split between Double-A Corpus Christie and Triple-A Oklahoma City. Springer also swiped 45 last year, and though he struck out 161 times, so did he walk on 83 occasions (.411 OBP). Houston has already inserted Springer at the clean-up slot in their everyday lineup, and that means you should grab him, if available, and do the same in virtually all circumstances.

There are a bunch of pitchers this year who have caused owners to mutter, "Who?" after a stellar performance or two. Today we will look at a few of these guys, starting with the Marlins' Tom Koehler. Drafted in the 18th round back in 2008, Koehler has had a workmanlike minor league career, posting a 54-33, 3.71 mark over 682 innings and 127 starts, with 582 strikeouts.

That fostered Koehler coming to the bigs for good (he had a cup and 13.3 innings in 2012), joining the rotation with fellow rookie Fernandez. The righty went 5-10, 4.41 over 143 innings, with a 1.357 WHIP.

The 27-year-old has been lights out this month, going 2-1, 1.89 over his first 19 innings and three starts. Koehler is not a deadly strikeout guy, but, in a rotation that has dominant arms like Fernandez and Nathan Eovaldi, that could be a good thing. If Koehler is out there and you could use a fourth or fifth starter, jump on him.

It is a little odd that Boston is messing around at third base, waiting for Will Middlebrooks to return. In my meager view, the team should just promote Garin Cecchini and get it over with, trying to figure out what to do with the extra parts. Enter Brock Holt, a ninth-round selection of the Pirates in the 2009 draft, who was then swapped to the Red Sox along with Joel Hanrahan in 2009.

With a .307-15-177 line in the Minors over 466 games, Holt does in fact have a nice resume. Further, the Rice alum has 61 swipes and 179 walks to 263 strikeouts, good for a .374 OBP. Holt has done very nicely since assuming the hot corner (.429-0-2) but he does not generate enough of the traditional production for third, and the rest of the Boston infield is pretty well set for awhile. But, Holt could spell the outfield and be a useful utility player. Not to mention he has third base for the moment, and in a deep set-up is an OK risk.

Kyle Gibson was the Twins' #1 selection in 2009, and compared to the likes of Springer and Fernandez, Minnesota has brought their top pick along slowly. With a 21-21, 3.51 line over 74 games and 72 starts (377.3 innings), Gibson struck out 337, walked 105 and allowed 356 hits (1.222 WHIP), the 6'6", 220 pound right-hander came to the Majors last year for good, going 2-4, 6.53 over ten starts.

This year, so far at least, Gibson has been stunning, going 3-0, 0.93 over 19.3 frames, with ten strikeouts, nine walks and 12 hits (1.086 WHIP). Gibson could create a little more distance between the whiffs and walks, but he has yet to surrender a homer, and clearly has a hot hand. Meaning in any format he can help, and in an AL-only, well, if he is out there and is half as efficient as he has been, that will still be money in the bank.

Seattle brought back hard-throwing Brandon Maurer, who pitched well enough (4.3 innings, a couple of hits and walks, a run and four strikeouts) in his first start in Seattle on Sunday. A 23rd-round pick in 2008, out of Orange Lutheran High in Southern California, Maurer did come to Safeco last year for 90 innings, but was knocked around for a 5-8 record with a 6.30 ERA. Maurer whiffed 70, and only walked 27, but he allowed 114 hits over which 16 were homers.

Maurer has pitched well enough in the Minors (19-21, 3.81 over 378 innings with 358 K, 132 walks and 361 hits) and if he can keep his pitches down, could fare well. Still a long-shot for now.

Colorado nabbed hurler Tommy Kahnle from the Yankees this past winter as a Rule 5 selection. A fifth-round pick in 2010 by the Pinstripes, Kahnle is a reliever who garnered 15 saves at Trenton last year and has 285 strikeouts over 214 innings. Over that period, Kahnle allowed just 142 hits, but gave up 123 walks (1.238 WHIP), so command is the issue. So far, he has had that (2-0, 1.93 over 9.3 innings), though nine walks to six whiffs still shows a point of concern. Still, on the Rockies, where the closer gig has really been a swinging door, anything could happen. And, as a Rule 5, he should be on the roster the remainder of the season. 

Tampa's C.J. Riefenhauser is not unlike Kahnle (well, save the Rule 5 bit) in that he was drafted in 2010, and converted 11 games at Double-A Montgomery last year, going 6-1, 1.22 for the campaign which ended at Durham. Riefenhauser has 342 whiffs over 361.3 innings, with 291 hits allowed and 106 walks (1.096 WHIP). A lefty, Riefenhauser will probably get situational work for now, but he is one of those quiet relievers who can help keep numbers stable, and grab a save and a win from time to time.

Let's close with reclamation project Kevin Kouzmanoff, who last played in the Majors in 2011, splitting time between the Rockies and Athletics, going .235-7-33 over 235 at-bats, with a poor .284 OBP. Kouz stumbled around in the Minors, and only came up with the Rangers to help the team while incumbent third sacker Adrian Beltre is down. However, his .395-2-9 line over his first ten games suggests he could be a nice pick-up while Beltre heals. Not to mention, if you play daily formats, he could be a cheap and rewarding play against lefties when Kouz is hitting at Arlington.

Last Updated on Monday, 21 April 2014 09:01
Hotpage April 14, 2014 (Week 3) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 14 April 2014 00:00

What a goofy start to the new season, huh?

Arms falling apart, guys wrecking themselves sliding into bases, instant replay controversies, and woo hoo, more problems with closers than in all the doors of all the houses in which I have lived.

For now, let's try and forget all that insanity, and turn our focus onto the players I want to look at this week in the never ending search for players who might give us a fantasy boost over the remaining 24 weeks of the season.

Remember back when Danny Duffy was the toast of the draft universe after being drafted in the third round in 2007? And then he whiffed 120 hitters over 81.3 innings in the Midwest League in 2008, and slammed through four levels in 2010 and became a top 100 prospect? Then came 2011 and the now inevitable TJ surgery and like so many glossy prospects, Duffy disappeared from our radar. Well, a full year removed from that surgery, and Duffy seems like he might be back.

After five pretty good 2013 performances (2-0, 1.85 over 24.3 frames), the lefty began this season at Omaha, but back he is and if you think Bruce Chen will prove to be the answer as the Royals #5 rotation guy, I want to be in your league. Add in Duffy to that mix, and suddenly the Royals rotation starts to really look dangerous.

Now that Josh Hamilton has injured himself for his 4-6 week spread over 2014, J.B. Shuck is back. I was really surprised that Shuck did not keep the fourth outfielder slot this year, coming out of spring. That is because the 26-year-old did pretty well last year over 129 games and 437 at-bats, hitting .293-2-39 with 60 runs and eight swipes, not to mention good contact numbers of 27 walks to 54 whiffs. He is back and in a deep league, I would jump all over him.

OK, raise your hand if you noticed that Kevin Kouzmanoff hit .370-3-12 over 54 spring games? If your hand is up, does that mean you selected the 32-year-old, who has not played in the Majors since 2011? I thought not. Well, with half the Rangers infield in traction, he could be a good selection in a deep format. A few homers on a team that knocks the ball around, irrespective of personnel, it seems.

In the National League, with A.J. Ellis down, Drew Butera, son of former catcher Sal Butera, seems to be getting the bulk of playing time. He is hitting .286 over his first couple of games, but this is a guy with a .183 average over 500 Major League at-bats. Maybe the Dodgers have enough offense to be happy with Butera's defense alone, but personally, I would gamble with Tim Federowicz. Or, I would either look elsewhere, or leave Ellis active.

The Rockies recalled second sacker Josh Rutledge, who performed so well in 2012 (.274-8-37 over 74 games) and disappointingly in 2013 (.235-7-19 over 88 games). Rutledge really does not belong in the Minors with his .329-27-138 line with 33 swipes and a .387 (74 walks to 197 whiffs) over 288 games. I like Rutledge so much more than DJ LeMahieu that it is not worth mentioning much more.. Get him from the free agent pool if you can, even in a mixed format.

At present, the Nationals have eight players on the DL, and that could spell opportunity for itinerant utility player Kevin Frandsen. This year, he has played a couple of games in the outfield, plus one at first, but expect Frandsen to get plenty of at-bats covering second and third some while the Nats try to get past their early-season injury woes. Frandsen has a .261-14-94 line, with 59 walks to 99 whiffs, and as a 32-year-old vet, he could do quite well simply as a band-aid in the capital over the course of the season. In an NL-only format, he is more than worth a pickup.

Let's close with a couple of pitchers, starting with 6'8", 260 pound Dellin Betances, one of those Yankees pitching prospects we all imagined would be killer a few years back. Lots of struggles later, Betances got it together at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year, saving five while going 6-4, 2.68 over 94 innings, with 108 punchouts to 42 walks and 52 hits (1.191 WHIP) and has 723 minor league strikeouts over 641.3 innings. If you want a sleeper for closer duties in New York, he is your man.

Finally, I have been a Dustin McGowan fan since his 2007 12-10, 4.04 season, when the righty looked like he was going to take a step up and become one of the best starters in the American League. The former first-round selection in 2000 has simply struggled since that time, mostly with injuries, including that Tommy John surgery that has become so chic. Well, he is now 32, and I am guessing McGowan has learned to pitch now. If you can grab him in a deep AL format, it's worth a shot. I mean, I tried to get him in my Scoresheet League and failed, so somebody else must be watching.

Last Updated on Monday, 14 April 2014 08:09
Hotpage April 7, 2014 (Week 2) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 07 April 2014 00:00

Despite some oddly inclement weather here in the Bay Area--with the Athletics rained out three times if you count a pre-season game--we actually have a complete week of statistics. (Note that there had not been a rainout in Oakland since 1998.)

How much fun is that? Well, fun or not, we still have a season's worth of fantasy work in front of us here, so let's get right to the players who might still be in your free agent pool after the maelstrom of drafts, and who might be worth fishing out for future use.

Somehow, an odd confluence in the cosmic forces have made Abraham Almonte the starting center fielder in Seattle, a team with a suddenly fun outfield of Dustin Ackley, Logan Morrison and Almonte. I am not sure if any of these guys will make or break your fantasy season, but I do think if all three play a full year they will all give nice profit, especially Almonte, who was a late reserve pick for me in my Scoresheet league.

The 24-year-old, signed by the Yankees seven years ago out of the Dominican Republic, has a pretty good minor league line of .269-47-292 with 202 steals and a strong enough .350 OBP (322 walks to 534 whiffs) over 696 minor league games. The Yanks swapped Almonte for Shawn Kelley in 2013, and I suspect the M's got the better part of the bargain. Amonte has a .286-1-4 line this first week with a steal. If he keeps that up, it will help in every format!

The Braves rotation hit the skids when they lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy at the end of Spring Training, but I think they have compensated well by signing Ervin Santana--who gets his first start this week--and Aaron Harang. Now 36, Harang had a lousy 2013 (5-11, 5.76) for sure, but it was time spent with two crappy teams in the Mets and Mariners. On the Braves, who are generally good with their hurlers, Harang should be much more like he was in 2011 (14-7, 3.64 in San Diego) and 2012 (10-10, 3.61 with the Dodgers) and is a nice gamble in an NL-only format at this point for a few bucks.

I actually covered Yangervis Solarte of the Yankees in my USA Today piece middle of last week, and since then all he has done is validate my opinion. Especially with the injury to Mark Teixeira, Solarte looks to be getting some everyday play in the Bronx infield, and can even chip in in the outfield (he played six games in left last year). Solarte is hitting .538-0-4 so far, and is probably on the radar of most owners, but just in case, and especially in an AL- only format, a nice and flexible selection.

So, what do we make of "new" Marlins third sacker, Casey McGehee? A player who has really had no relevance since 2010, when he hit .285-23-104, McGehee fell far enough off the chart that he spent 2013 leading the Tohoku Ratuken Golden Eagles to a Japanese World Series title--along with Andruw Jones--notching a .292-28-103 line, and probably learning how to hit off-speed stuff. McGehee has both a full-time job for now, and is hitting cleanup, making the 31-year-old a nice gamble. If his .450-0-10 first week suggests anything, it is great potential numbers on an everyday basis from a guy largely overlooked in shallower formats.

Last week, I mentioned Brandon Hicks in passing when I noted the Giants' Joaquin Arias as a potential utility player. With Marco Scutaro's back resulting in a DL stint, Hicks, on the heels of a .348-3-11 spring, made the San Francisco roster. Hicks is hitting .444-1-2 over nine at-bats so far, having played second for the Gigantes, and in a deep NL-only format, Hicks, who has clubbed 91 minor league homers, could be a cheap power source at least on a temporary basis.

The Tigers hold an American League counterpart to Hicks, with 34-year-old Don Kelly, who has 23 homers and a pretty good eye as witnessed by his 70 walks to 137 punch-outs over 477 Major League games. Kelly plays first, second, third and the outfield, and in an AL-only format, he could be a decent role player getting at-bats a couple of games weekly, spelling the Detroit regulars.

Let's finish with the two players who probably topped the FAAB charts in their respective leagues this time around, starting with the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon, who clubbed six hits and three doubles during the Colorado opener and is hitting .600-1-6 with a pair of swipes so far this first week. Now 27, Blackmon was a second-round pick of the Rockies in 2008, and he really established himself last year with a .309-6-22 season over 82 games and 246 at-bats (.803 OPS). Blackmon will likely fetch top dollar in your deep league, if available, but the outfielder makes an intriguing buy and addition if you can get him without breaking your bank.

The Twins' Chris Colabello is Blackmon's American League counterpart, having broken out of the box with a .389-1-7 first week, mostly as the DH. At age 30, Colabello is probably not worth the crapshoot of Blackmon, but that does not mean owners in an AL-only setup will not spend accordingly. I would be inclined to let them. Think Chris Shelton, lite.

Last Updated on Monday, 07 April 2014 10:00
Hotpage: March 31, 2014 (Week 1) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Monday, 31 March 2014 00:00

As I start to draft this, there about 90 minutes between the world and first pitch on the North American continent of the 2014 Baseball Season. So, I will get to see one of my favorites to break out this year, Andrew Cashner, who happens to grace my LABR team, take on the Dodgers. That means I get to watch Jedd Gyorko, Scott Van Slyke, Andre Ethier, Yonder Alonso, Will Venable and Cashner all play, and it matters.

What fun!

So, as we make our last moves and positioning going into the first week--and sort of prompted by comments on "Bed Goes Up, Bed Goes Down", comments last Saturday, let's finish the pre-season by looking at my favorite source for scrounging fantasy points, utility players.

Generally, utility players are not everyday players, but that doesn't mean they don't log pretty close to full-time play over the course of the season. Bettter, they are simply invaluable in the event of an injury as multi-positional players, and that related flexibility can make managing a team so much more successful and efficient.

Let's start with Marcus Semien (2B/3B/SS, White Sox), of whom a number of comments on the heels of my Matt Davidson assessment, were lodged over the weekend. Now, I love Semien, if for no other reason than he is from the Bay Area and went to Berkeley, but I really think the infielder will become the man at second, allowing the White Sox to let go of Gordon Beckham. Semien, who hit .261-2-7 over limited Major League play last year, played three games each at second and short, but will start this year manning the keystone slot. I love a guy who walks more than he whiffs, and at Double-A last year, Semien grabbed 98 free passes to 90 whiffs. That tells me he is a smart ballplayer, and that tells me he could be pretty good.

Alberto Callaspo (2B/3B, Athletics): A number of years back, in 2005, Callaspo ranked way up there on myTop 250 Prospect List following a .304-11-80 season with 38 walks to 30 strikeouts split between Double-A and Triple-A. Callaspo, over his Major League career, has a 162-game mean of .273-9-59 with four swipes, and I will bet he is right there with similar numbers--and maybe a few extra swipes--in Oakland this year. I think Callaspo might get some time at first base as well, making his value increase a little.

Joaquin Arias (1B/2B/3B/SS, Giants): Arias played all four infield slots last year, and with Marco Scutaro down, figures to get the bulk of time manning second (though watch out for Brandon Hicks, who had a wicked spring at .384-3-11 over 24 games). Though not a high OBP guy at .302 over his career, Arias does boast a .273 average and should be good for 8-10 steals. He should also be cheap or in the reserve pool in most leagues, and in a deep league could be a big help. I have Arias in LABR, spelling Scutaro right now, in fact.

Steve Lombardozzi (2B/3B/OF, Orioles): It is kind of strange that the Tigers, who are trying to fill a gap at short, traded the 25-year-old, who has played a couple of games at shortstop, to the Orioles for a shortstop (Alex Gonzalez) without much to offer at this point (too bad Omar Vizquel isn't an option). Lombardozzi did have a drop off on his OPS from .671 to .619 last year, but his basic numbers were pretty much the same over the past couple of years despite 100 fewer at-bats in 2013. So, with Jonathan Schoop in waiting, and Jemile Weeks dispatched, the keystone slot at Camden falls to Lombardozzi. I have a good feeling about it.

Yan Gomes (C/1B, Indians): Just inked to a six-year contract extension, Gomes is hardly a secret. He has, however, played catcher, first base and left field, along with third base over his 131 game Major League career. The 26-year-old has a .271-15-51 line over that span. 'Nuff said.

Jordan Pacheco (C/1B, Rockies): Over the past two seasons, Pacheco has caught, played first, and third. As of now, he is the Rockies' backup catcher, but coming off a solid .346-2-5 spring, will probably get a chance to redeem himself from his down 2013 (.239-1-33) after his solid .309-5-54 first full season in 2012. I have Pacheco as a catching option in several leagues.

Emilio Bonifacio (2B/3B/OF, Cubs): The speedy Bonifacio should get plenty of chances both at second (Darwin Barney is hardly a threat), third (should Mike Olt struggle) and then in the Wrigley outfield. Emilio will collect his 400 at-bats, and though he is probably gone in deep leagues, he makes for a nice play in mixed and shallower formats as well.

Dustin Ackley (1B/2B/OF, Mariners): No longer a favorite prospect, Ackley kicked up his game at the end of last season with a .304-3-20 second half, so Seattle wants to give their former #1 selection in 2009 another chance. Certainly, second base is out with Robinson Cano in tow, so left field--or maybe some center--are probably where Ackley gets his playing time. Ackley has a sweet swing, and should perform better than his numbers indicate, but going into his third year, this should be step up time.

Last Updated on Monday, 31 March 2014 07:39
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