It’s a new week in fantasy baseball, and a new week of challenges to overcome are at the forefront of this weeks column. Is Desmond Jennings as good as people thought? Are the Astros going to deal their closer? Who is the Giants closer now that their main man is out of action? All of this and more including a manger calling out one of his star players in the media.
Daniel Bard pulled off a rare outing Monday. A look at his final line is very encouraging as he held the Rays to one run in 6.2 innings while striking out seven batters. However, he also walked seven betters, an unacceptable totally if they had come in twice as many innings. Bard only walked one batter in his first outing against the Jays, but eight walks in 11.2 innings is a scary total. Hopefully he’ll locate the ball better in his next outing. Two more points. (1) Bard was allowed to throw 111 pitches, so the club certainly isn’t overly concerned that he can’t go deep into games after pitching out of the pen for since arriving in Boston. (2) The club seems content to leave Bard in the starting rotation so those of you hoping that he’ll end up working the 9th inning at some point are really only playing a hunch.
Desmond Jennings had two hits on Monday to boost his average to .250. In the game he also stole his second base of the year. It’s only been 10 games so this story if far from written, but through 10 contests Jennings has no homers and that .250 average is a concern, especially when you consider that he has already racked up 12 whiffs. Again it’s early, but this is why I was more hesitant than most to simply consider Jennings a lock to be a top-20 outfielder in the fantasy game in 2012.
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told a local ratio station that the club is not looking to deal Brett Myers right now (Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the team was kicking the tires on dealing their 32 year old closer). It’s always tough to know who to believe in situations like this, but for now you have to take Luhnow at his word meaning those of you in mixed leagues who took the chance on adding David Carpenter aren’t likely to get something for nothing. However, it should still be noted that Myers isn’t likely to be with this team all year. He’s aging, expensive ($11.0 million), and set to enter free agency next season unless his club opts to pay him $10 million (he has a buy out for $3 million). If Myers is dealt he could remain a closer, could be shifted to middle relief, and there’s always a chance he could be asked to re-enter a starting rotation that was in need of an arm (of course this last option would be a difficult one given that he would need to stretch his arm out). NL-only leaguers need to hold tight to Carpenter, and those of you in 15 team mixed leagues could still take a chance on holding him in your final roster spot.
Sergio Romo has been one of the ten best relievers in baseball since he made his major league debut. Does that sound crazy to you? If it does, you haven’t bothered to look at the numbers. Among pitchers who have thrown at least at least 175 innings since the start of the 2008 season, here is how Romo ranks.
2.30 ERA – 5th in baseball
8.45 base runners per nine innings – 3rd in baseball
6.10 hits per nine innings – 4th in baseball
10.75 K/9 – 6th in baseball
5.51 K/BB – 5th in baseball
Now do you see why I’m confident that my claim of Romo being one of the ten best relievers in baseball is an accurate statement? Remember I’m not talking right handed relievers from the NL West, I’m talking about every single man in baseball who has thrown at least 175 innings since the start of the 2008 season. So of course with Brian Wilson out of action for the rest of the season after tests revealed that he had structural damage in his elbow Romo is going to be the closer for the Giants. Not so fast. Apparently the Giants have decided to basically ignore the numbers that I just listed as they will go with a committee approach. “We’ll use everybody, go with the hot hand. (Santiago) Casilla may be saving some games. (Sergio) Romo and (Javier) Lopez, we think we’re in good hands there. That’s the game plan right now.” We’ve all seen teams try the committee approach and for whatever reason it simply doesn’t work, period. The Giants need to do the right thing and name one guy the closer. Players just seem to function better when they know what their role is.
Given all that, it seems that most are expecting Casilla to get the first crack at the job, or at least to be the lead guy in the committee. Casilla has been impressive since he joined the Giants in 2010 with a 1.18 ERA over 109.2 innings, but he still isn’t the performer that Romo is: 8.45 K/9, 1.16 WHIP, 1.94 K/BB. It’s that last number that really scares me. Casilla is below the big league average in K/BB ratio because he walks far too many batters (4.35 per nine). I don’t know about you, but I certainly have seen far too many relievers who have been asked to work the 9th inning fail because they issue too many free passes. If you’re looking just for saves Casilla is probably the best add at the moment, but Romo is such an elite arm I’d still stick with him if I had the choice.
David Wright has a jacked up pinkie, it’s actually broken, and many thought he was headed to the DL. Well, not only did Wright avoid the DL he also returned to the lineup with a vengeance. Over his last two games he’s gone deep, produced five hits, and scored three times. Wright certainly needs to stay healthy but his production when on the field has been exceptional thus far (.571 average, two homers, five RBI in six games).
Kevin Youkilis has struggled to start the season batting just .200 without a homer through 30 at-bats. At the same time he’s produced four hits while scoring six runs in his last three games as he appears to be awakening from his slumber which makes Boston manager Bobby Valentine’s recent rant against him so odd. “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason,” Valentine said. Uh, what? Come on Bobby V. Every person who has ever been around Youkilis says that he grinds through games and at-bats as hard as any player in the big leagues. You can question whether Youkilis’ body is breaking down, he is out of the lineup Monday with a minor groin issue (he should be back on Tuesday), but it does not good to question his heart and/or desire. If his current owner is panicking make a move to add Youkilis. The man can still produce and will be a top-10 option at third base this year barring some long term health situation.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray’s baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.
Tags: Desmond Jennings, Fantasy Baseball, MLB