Riding the Pine

“I took all of this in and I asked myself: Does he deserve another chance? I’m a Catholic. I went to Villanova. I was watching all those people lining up this week to see the Pope and I wondered, ‘What would the Pope do?’ He would give him another chance…He didn’t commit a crime. He’s paid for making inappropriate remarks as a 25-year-old.”
–Long Island Ducks owner Frank Boulton on signing John Rocker this week (New York Newsday).

Another week, another steroid suspension – Jorge Piedra, outfielder for the Colorado Rockies, was suspended this week for steroid use. Piedra, who was send down to AAA the week before the suspension was announce, has no fantasy value, even if he was in the majors.

I don’t rant much in these, but something has been bugging me for the last few days. I don’t know how many people listen to sports talk radio, but everyone in St. Louis has called it a season for Cardinals after a week and a half. Come on people, there is still a long time to go for the season. The Cardinals have traditionally been slow starting. Last year they were a .500 team until mid-May, and they won 105 games. Thinking that trading for Mark Mulder was a bad idea is the most retarded thing I have ever heard (no offense to retarded people). You can’t judge a player on 2 starts. That is like thinking Dmitry Young
was going to hit 486 homers after the first day, Edgardo Alfonzo is going to hit .517 all season, or Gregg Zaun is going to drive in 80 runs. Be real.

With that out of the way…

The Rumors
Arizona has attempted to contact Scott Boras in a last ditch effort to sign first round draft choice Stephen Drew; Drew, like his brother JD, was not happy with the contract offer/signing bonus offered and has threatened to re-enter the draft…The Mets have made a serious push, as have the Cubs, for Ugueth Urbina from the Tigers; Detroit is reluctant to accept a deal since they like having Urbina and Kyle Farnsworth setting up Troy Percival…The Mets have also talked to Tampa Bay about Danys Baez; the D-Rays want prospect Yusmeiro Petit (ranked # in the Mets system); haven’t the Mets learned from the Kazmir/V. Zambrano deal…Yankee GM Brian Cashman has stated that he would be interested in the Washington National’s GM position should it become available; Cashman’s contract is up after this season…Joey Gathright hot start since being re-called from AAA has made the team think about keeping him on the roster; Gathright has been used to replace Alex Sanchez, who was suspended for steroids…Kerry Ligtenberg, recently release from Toronto, is expected to sign with Arizona soon…The Cardinals and Chris Carpenter are working to extend his contract…The Rockies are interested in Marlon Byrd of the Phillies.

The week that was:
The Good
Pat Burrell – It looks like Burrell is going to live up to the potential after all. Burrell was also on the verge of breaking through, but the last 2 seasons he struggled. I’m not surprised (I watched to see where he was drafted in all of my leagues, but only taking him in my long term keeper league). He is worth starting, but don’t expect these numbers all year long.
Jim Edmonds – Edmonds is a solid start in any league. He will strike out, but his walks have increased and he still has power. Tuesday night he got his 1500 hits, and did it in grand style; a homer in a Cardinals win. Do watch out for injuries; his all out style of play will cause him to miss a few games.
– Marlins’ Pitchers – I have been taken by surprise by the Marlins’ pitching this year. I was not expecting complete games from these guys. There staff was leading the league in ERA, shutouts, complete games and opponents’ batting average. I still think Josh Beckett is overrated (and injury prone) and Dontrelle Willis is hit or miss. Start AJ Burnett and the other mentioned pitchers in all leagues while they are hot.
– The Phillies’ starters are also pitching well (2.93 ERA), but the team has a losing record…Brady Clark is a sleeper to pick up; he is hitting well, will steal some bases, but won’t have much power…Xavier Nady is off to a hot start; when Dave Roberts to return, Nady may move back to his original position (3B) if Sean Burroughs doesn’t do anything.

The Bad
Zach Day – The pitcher for the Nationals has had a tough time the last season and a half. He started strong 2 years ago, but an injury changed everything. He is being moved to the bullpen after a few rough starts. John Patterson, one time prospect for the Diamondbacks, is going to take his rotation spot.
Juan Gonzalez – The injury prone outfielder has made no progress on his injury. The Indians originally thought he would be out for the minimum. This is great for Grady Sizemore, who will continue in the outfield until he comes back.
Steve Kline – Ok, I don’t think Kline is a bad player. He is a great guy and a fan favorite in St. Louis; but things aren’t looking that way for him right now. Kline told a St. Louis reporter that he is not happy in Baltimore. The team doesn’t click like the Cardinals did, the manager doesn’t have the respect of the players that Tony LaRussa has, AL style of ball is different, and the fans booed him were reasons he gave. He needs to think before he speaks. Many are saying these statements will have made him available to any team interested, so his days in Baltimore are numbered.

The Ugly
Reggie Sanders – Sanders is by no mean a bad player, but he does have the tendency to get hurt (and the Cardinals will give him a day or 2 off each week). Sanders has 4 homers to this point, which has surprised many (myself included). He is worth a start, but watch his health closely.
– Closers again – I swear, the closers will straighten themselves out. Dan Kolb, who I think will not end the season as Atlanta’s closer, blew up on Tuesday; as did Armando Benitez and Percival. Don’t panic yet. Leave your closers in; they will straighten themselves out soon enough.
– Cardinals’ Pitching – The strong point for last years “surprise” team is what is holding them back this year. The bullpen was considered a weakness from the get go, but the starters have not helped themselves. Like I said in my rant, it is still early, and the team is used to slow starts. Don’t bench Mulder and Carpenter. Jason Marquis and Jeff Suppan should be used on favorable match ups.
Scott Rolen is batting .143; he has the tendency to hit a slump or two throughout the season, so don’t give up on him…Aaron Rowand is also off to a slow start; he is young and should snap out of it…Eric Chavez slow beginning (.214) is not worrying the A’s.

Rookie Watch:
Willy Taveras has been a monster in center for the Astros (.370 in 10 games); he is worth using while he is hot…Denny Bautista looked impressive, until his most recent start (6 runs in 3.1 innings); Bautista is a decent starter and is worth taking in large keeper leagues…Jason Bartlett is showing that he was ready for the call (.360 with a homer in 6 games); he is worth picking up…Huston Street has given up 1 run with 7 strikeouts in 4 innings; grab him if you get points for Ks and for the off chance he takes over the closer role.

Injury Watch:
The Twin’s Carlos Silva is expected to be out for a few weeks; original reports had him out until the All Star…There are conflicting reports about Seattle starter Bobby Madritsch (shoulder); some are saying he will be back in a few weeks from fatigue, while others say he is done for the season with a ligament tear…Todd Walker of the Cubs was placed on the DL with a sprained MCL, he will be out 4 to 6 weeks … Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau was put on the DL suffering from a concussion received from a Ron Villone fastball to the head; this was just a precaution and he will be back after the minimum…There is no time table for Eric Gagne’s (elbow) return to the Dodgers.

With all of the players coming back from the DL (the minimum 15 days are up from Spring Training injuries), I thought I would give you an update. Matt Morris
will be back next week; only start him if you need pitching help. Brad Penny will have another week before he comes back; again, give him a few starts before activating him. Vicente Padilla will be back this week; the Phillies pitching has been great, so they don’t know who he will knock out of a rotation spot. Kelvim Escobar is starting his Minor League rehab; he still has a few weeks before he is back.

Upcoming 2 start pitchers: (DISCLAIMER: All of these should be checked on Sunday to make sure they are 2 start pitchers. Go to 2 start pitchers link on RotoChamps to check.)

Must Start
Dontrelle Willis, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, Roger Clemens, Jake Peavy, Curt Schilling, Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson, Livan Hernandez, Mark Prior.

Don’t Start
Kaz Ishii, Josh Fogg, Ramon Ortiz, Brandon Webb, Shawn Chacon, Mark Hendrickson, Chan Ho Park, Rob Bell, Kelvim Escobar, Sidney Ponson.

Sleepers
Elmer Dessens, Erik Bedard, Dan Haren, Paul Byrd, Orlando Hernandez, Joe Blanton, Pedro Astacio, Cory Lidle, Jeff Francis, Zach Greinke.

Other Possible 2 Starts:
Tomo Ohka, Randy Wolf, Kerry Wood, Gary Glover, Brett Tomko, David Bush, Jaret Wright, Jason Johnson, Kyle Lohse, Jose Contreras, Cliff Lee, Aaron Sele, Bronson Arroyo, Brad Radke, Scott Elarton, Denny Bautista, Jamie Moyer, Nate Robertson, Brian Moehler, Victor Zambrano, Jeff Suppan, Oliver Perez, Brandon Claussen, John Thomson, Brandon Backe, Odalis Perez, Chris Capuano, Noah Lowry, Brian Lawrence, Shawn Estes.

Top 5

Rank Player Team AVG
1 Edgardo Alfonso Giants .516
2 Joe Randa Reds .448
3 Jeff Kent Dodgers .419
4 ICHIRO Mariners .417
5 Xavier Nady Padres .412
Rank Player Team Home Runs
1 Jose Guillen Nationals 5
2 Troy Glaus Diamondbacks 4
2 Brian Roberts Orioles 4
2 Paul Konerko White Sox 4
2 Pat Burrell Phillies 4
2 Reggie Sanders Cardinals 4
Rank Player Team RBIs
1 Pat Burrell Phillies 17
2 Eric Hinske Blue Jays 13
3 Richie Sexson Mariners 12
4 Derek Lee Cubs 11
4 Jeff Kent Dodgers 11
4 Hideki Matsui Yankees 11
4 Xavier Nady Padres 11

Rank Player Team Runs
1 Jeff Kent Dodgers 12
2 Brian Roberts Orioles 11
3 Shawn Green Diamondbacks 10
3 Brady Clark Brewers 10
3 Bobby Abreu Phillies 10
3 Shea Hillenbrand Blue Jays 10
3 Jose Guillen Nationals 10

Rank Player Team SBs
1 Omar Vizquel Giants 5
1 Julio Lugo Devil Rays 5
3 Brian Roberts Orioles 4
3 Scott Podsednik White Sox 4
3 Torii Hunter Twins 4
3 ICHIRO Mariners 4
3 Carl Crawford Devil Rays 4
Rank Player Team Wins
1 18 players Various 2
Rank Player Team ERA
1 Josh Beckett Marlins 0.00
1 Dontrelle Willis Marlins 0.00
3 Rodrigo Lopez Orioles 0.64
3 Roger Clemens Astros 0.64
5 Brett Myers Phillies 0.73
Rank Player Team Saves
1 Brandon Lyon Diamondbacks 5
2 Danny Kolb Braves 4
2 Shingo Takatsu White Sox 4
2 Bob Wickman Indians 4
5 Brad Lidge Astros 3
5 Jose Mesa Pirates 3
5 Fransisco Cordero Rangers 3
5 Miguel Batista Blue Jays 3
Rank Player Team Ks
1 Pedro Martinez Mets 21
2 Randy Johnson Yankees 19
3 Roger Clemens Astros 18
3 Roy Halladay Blue Jays 18
5 Javier Vazquez Diamondbacks 17
5 Josh Beckett Marlins 17
5 Johan Santana Twins 17
5 Jake Peavy Padres 17

Rank Player Team WHIP
1 Pedro Martinez Mets 0.53
2 Dontrelle Willis Marlins 0.56
3 Roger Clemens Astros 0.57
4 Josh Beckett Marlins 0.73
5 Kaz Ishii Mets 0.80

That’s it for this week. E-mail or post questions and comments. Thanks.

Eugene Tierney