Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Red Sox-Yankees Part Deux

Last month, the Boston Red Sox swept their arch rival New York Yankees in a three game series at Fenway Park. That sweep was the beginning of a 13-17 tailspin for the Yankees which found them a a full 10 1/2 games behind the BoSox as their second series of 2007 began. Poor pitching, injuries and poor hitting by everyone not named Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter were the culprits to the bad month by the Yankees.

Lately though, the Yankees are beginning to show signs of life again. Chien-Mien Wang is back from injury and the Rocket, Roger Clemens, will be back pitching for them again by the end of the month... A-Rod is at it hitting homers again, including a 3-run shot off the Red Sox' Tim Wakefield last night. Jason Giambi is starting to look like himself at the plate again - he blasted a massive third deck shot last night off of Wakefield. Bobby Abreu is starting to walk again after looking more like Alfonso Soriano with his lack of patience at the plate for the better part of two weeks and Robinson Cano is also finally starting to hit. You add all of this up, and the Yankees are beginning to look formidable again. Yes, they are still 9 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the A.L. East after a 6-2 win last night, but history tells us that they are by no means out of it yet...


Though baseball is almost always my focus this time of the year, it's also the time of the year when my favorite TV shows are coming to a close... The Amazing Race ended a couple of weekends ago. Yes, I was rooting for the beauty queens Dustin and Kandace - but they only came in second... Last night, 24 had an exciting two hour finale... if you missed it, you just HAVE TO see it!!! Over the next two nights, American Idol will crown it's season six champion. In case you missed it, a certain contestant from season four is going to be performing on Idol tomorrow night. Yes, that would be Carrie Underwood!


OK, well it's Tuesday and it's now time to try to find some Diamonds in the Rough for your fantasy baseball teams...

1. Jeremy Hermida (OF-Fla) 60% owned in CBS Sportsline leagues - Hermida is the guy EVERYONE wanted last year in their fantasy leagues... The Marietta, Georgia native (maybe he belonged in yesterday's blog???!!!) hit four homers in 41 at bats for the Marlins in 2005 after posting an impressive 111 walks and .457 OBP in the minors that year. He looked poised to be HUGE in 2006, as he often was drafted in the 10th round or earlier in fantasy leagues. Unfortunately, injuries took away most his 2006 season and when he came back in June he became VERY impatient at the plate. Not surprisingly, his numbers suffered as a result and he wound up the year hitting only .251 with five homers in 307 at bats. So far in 2007, Hermida is looking every bit like the hitter we all coveted last year - a .417 BA, 2 homers, 6 RBI's and 4 runs in his first seven games. Most importantly, Hermida is displaying plate discipline this year, walking four times to go along with four strikeouts for a very impressive 1.00 batting eye (walks to strikeout ratio). As long as he remains patient at the plate and healthy, the sky is almost the limit for this guy. Get him NOW!

2. Reggie Willits (OF-LAA) 49% owned - Another week, another speedy guy profiled here... if you're like me in fantasy baseball drafts, the one area that tends to get neglected the most is the stolen base column. Fortunately, every year, many new speed sources emerge. I profiled the Philles' Shane Victorino here a few weeks ago, and he's only second in the majors in steals. As for Willits, he has taken the leadoff spot away from veteran Angels outfielder Chone Figgins and has absolutely SEIZED the opportunity. All Willits has done so far this year is hit .351, steal 10 bases and score 20 runs in 105 at bats. Possessor of a great batting eye in the minors, he's also drawn an impressive 15 walks for a .433 OBP... It looks like Willits is here to stay (bad news for Figgins owners). If healthy, he could very easily steal another 30-40 bases the rest of the way for the Angels!

3. Randy Winn (OF - SF) 30% owned - The one thing that most fantasy owners know about Randy Winn is that he's very streaky and his streaks (both good and bad) tend to last a lot longer than most players. In 2005, Winn finished the year with these numbers over his final 79 games beginning July 5th: 18 homers, 38 RBI's, 55 runs, 10 SB, a .348 BA and a .639 SLG. Needless to say, those numbers won many people (myself included) a lot of fantasy titles in 2005... In 2006 though and through the first month of 2007, that Winn was nowhere to be found. His numbers in those 165 games: 11 HR, 61 RBI's, 84 runs, 10 SB, a .256 BA and a .384 SLG. Nothing in those numbers, except maybe the runs will help your team. In 25 games since April 23rd of this year though, that "2005 post-4th of July version" of Winn has returned to the tune of 3 homers, 10 RBI's, 16 runs, 2 SB, a .390 and a .590 SLG. As my favorite baseball forecaster Ron Shandler always likes to say "once you display a skill, you own it." History has shown us that Winn can be REALLY good for three months at a time (at least)... ride this streak out and enjoy!!!

4. Boof Bonser (SP - Min) 73% owned - Lost amidst the "baby Johan" mania which was Francisco Liriano last year in Minnesota, another very nice prospect with a funny name made it to the Twins major league roster. In the minors, Bonser displayed a combination of great power and command, striking out more than a batter an inning while posting nearly a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. In just over 100 innings last year with the big club, Bonser posted 84 strikeouts and a respectable 4.23 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Bonser got off to a slow start this year, mostly due to command problems, but over the past three outings, he seems to have solved those issues, striking out 24, while walking only five in 19 innings... Expect some really good times ahead for Bonser as the Twins get batting champ Joe Mauer back behind the dish. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Bonser gets 200 strikeouts before the year is over with 15 wins, a 3.75 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. If he's still out there and available, it would be a GREAT idea to get him!

5. Scott Baker (SP-Min) 18% owned - So you missed out on Bonser? Well, fear not as the Twins have a VERY deep farm system full of guys who aspire to be the next Johan Santana or Francisco Liriano... Scott Baker is another star in the making... Though he doesn't have the overpowering stuff of the aforementioned guys, Baker does have Greg Maddux-like skills - he knows how to get guys out with his pure pitching ability. He posted ERA's of 3.01 and 2.67 in the minors the past two years, and while he got hit pretty hard last year in his stay with the big club, he looked VERY impressive in his first outing of 2007, striking out five and giving up six hits and two earned runs in 8 1/3 innings of a 5-2 win against the Milwaukee Brewers last week. An ERA of perhaps 3.80 along with 12-15 wins and 140 strikeouts could be in his future for 2007... numbers which can definitely help your team!



shibu said...

what do you think about dropping vargas to pick up baker?

John C said...

I would definitely drop Vargas for Baker as Vargas is not really improving as a pitcher and his ERA this year is artificially low. His BAA allowed this year is .271 - right in line with his career numbers. While he's striking out more batters, he's also walking more of them. Also, the 1.50 WHIP he carries this year means his ERA of 3.68 has nowhere to go but up!