Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the injuries and comebacks of five players and how they affect your fantasy team.
Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees
The Yankees big bopper aggravated a wrist injury diving for a ball on Monday night. The injury first occurred Sunday, but now it looks like he will miss some time. An immediate X-Ray came back negative, but Teixeira will have an MRI Tuesday, which could dictate whether he has to spend some time on the disabled list.
Big Tex has 20 home runs and 71 RBI this season. Even with the recent swoon, the Yankees were thought of as a safe bet for the playoffs. However, if Teixeira joins A-Rod on the DL, things will change. Most notably, the Yankees could end up being buyers prior to the trade deadline.
Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres
In the midst of a rally against Reds hurler Mike Leake Monday, Grandal had to leave the game with a strained oblique. We’ve seen a lot of this injury this season and it usually ends with the player landing on the disabled list. The 23-year-old Cuban has been great in his rookie season, batting .312 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 24 games.
Jim Thome, DH, Orioles
Thome is one of the most dangerous sluggers in baseball, but nearing 42 years old, staying healthy has been a challenge lately. The Orioles have given him an opportunity to play everyday, and just when he was getting hot, Thome hurt his neck and is now getting an MRI in Baltimore to determine whether a stay on the DL will be necessary.
Frank Francisco, RP, Mets
While his 4.97 ERA may be ugly, Frank Francisco does have 18 saves in 21 attempts and was enjoying a fine June with a 2.16 ERA before he went down with an oblique injury. The 32-year-old veteran is now on the mend and could return as the Mets closer as soon as Friday. The Mets interim closer has been Bobby Parnell, who remains a bit too hittable despite a 100-MPH fastball. He has blown two of his last three saves.
Kendrys Morales, 1B/RF, Angels
Talking about injuries, Morales missed nearly two seasons, all because of a celebration after hitting a grand slam that resulted in a broken ankle. While he has been back all season, it wasn’t until Monday night that we saw a vintage performance. He blasted two home runs from both sides of the plate for six RBI in one inning.
Morales now has 11 home runs and 45 RBI through 84 games. He has been striking out too often and not walking enough, but it was a nice turn-back-the-clock performance for a player who could still have some solid years left in the tank.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the fantasy implications of two players’ MLB debuts and the potential trades of five players who are most likely to be moved.
The Big Debuts
Matt Harvey, SP, Mets
Finally some good news for Mets fans as 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey made his debut Thursday night and it was a memorable one to say the least. Harvey set a Mets record for a debut with 11 strikeouts and did not allow a run to score in 5.1 innings.
Harvey touched 98 MPH on the radar gun and got some K’s with high fastballs while also getting some weak swings by putting sliders in the dirt. Don’t expect all of his starts to go this smoothly, but Harvey is a strikeout artist who should continue to rack up the K’s, though it could come with some walks as well.
Starling Marte, OF, Pirates
On the first Major League pitch he saw, Starling Marte made his mark, blasting a home run. The 23-year-old outfielder is an instant upgrade for the contending Pirates. Marte has some power, as he blasted 12 home runs with 13 triples and 21 doubles at Triple-A. He lacks plate discipline, but also has some speed. I do not see Marte having too much fantasy value this year aside from what could be a hot start since the Major Leaguers lack an in-depth scouting report on him. Regardless, the future is now for the Pirates and Marte only makes the team more interesting.
Five Players Most Likely to be Moved
1) Zack Greinke, SP, Brewers
The Brewers have come out and acknowledged that they are going to trade their ace, which makes it clear that no long-term commitment could be reached with Zack Greinke. Ultimately, a trade to a contender will do fantasy managers some good, but at varied levels.
If he goes to the Rangers: The hitter’s ballpark is bound to lead to some extra runs so Greinke’s ERA may spike, but he will also enjoy the best run support possible. This is the trading partner that makes the most sense for everyone. Greinke owns a sensational 2.38 lifetime ERA at Rangers Ballpark.
If he goes to the Angels: Greinke should continue to post similar numbers but with a few extra wins thanks to the offensive star power of Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. You can expect a big second half from the ace who is 44-45 in the first half of seasons and 41-31 following the All-Star break.
If he goes to the Braves: This is the best ballpark for Grienke, plus in the NL he faces opposing pitchers, which will keep his ERA lower. Greinke is 25-9 in 49 starts with a National League club.
2) Jonathan Broxton, RP, Royals
The interest in Jonathan Broxton has been limited on the trade market and it may be for a couple of reasons. First, few contenders are desperate for a closer or late reliever right now. Also, Broxton’s numbers are not as good as they appear. He is not getting many strikeouts, which is a reversal of his career trend. He is also allowing 1.40 runners on base each inning, which is a recipe for destruction in late innings. The Royals are wise to put him on the block.
3) Jason Vargas, SP, Mariners
With the demands so high for front-of-the-rotation hurlers such as Greinke and James Shields, alternatives such as Jason Vargas are becoming attractive for teams. Vargas has won four straight starts and now owns a career high 11 wins this season. So when he does get traded, what does this mean to his fantasy value? The run support will increase, but his ERA will also soar. He has a 4.67 ERA on the road this season compared to 2.63 at home, which explains everything you need to know about the 29-year-old southpaw.
4) Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins
When the Twins dealt their ace Johan Santana to the Mets a few years back, they not only assumed that some of the prospects from the trade would turn into stars, but the hope was that Francisco Liriano would step up as an able replacement at the top of the rotation. Though he did enjoy some success in 2010 with 14 wins, a 3.62 ERA and a career high 202 strikeouts, the following two seasons have been disastrous.
Liriano has found himself in the bullpen and even in the minors over the last two seasons while sustaining an ERA north of 5.00 in the Majors. The positive signs this season are that the opposition is hitting just .239 against Liriano and he is fanning more than a batter per inning. On the other hand, his control is lacking, which makes him a major gamble for whoever brings him in via trade.
5) Yunel Escobar, SS, Blue Jays
After a strong 2011 season that included 11 home runs, a .290 average and .369 on-base percentage, Escobar has struggled this season. His average is down to .255, his OBP is .299 and his 19 extra-base hits have resulted in a .342 slugging percentage.
Escobar has shown some life recently with a five-game hitting streak, but there is growing concern about his character according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, which may scare off some suitors. Keep in mind that Toronto is a favorable hitter’s park and the Blue Jays lineup has posted a lot of runs. The 29-year-old Cuban does not make for a very good fantasy investment.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw break down some of the major storylines in baseball as the trade deadline approaches.
Trade Analysis: Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers
The Dodgers made a splash by acquiring former Marlins sensation Hanley Ramirez for Nathan Eovaldi and a willingness to take on Ramirez’s salary. First of all, this is the way it should be for Los Angeles. The Dodgers are supposed to be the West Coast Yankees, so it’s good to see them open the check book to bring in some star potential.
The move also makes baseball sense. The team already has two of the best hitters and pitchers in baseball, so it’s not a bad idea to go for the gold now. Eovaldi is too young to be depended on, while, even at his worst, HanRam is scoring runs and offering some pop and speed. On a side note, of all stadiums where Ramirez has played at least 65 games, his .388 average at Dodgers Stadium is easily the highest.
On the Market: Alfonso Soriano
With 19 home runs and 58 RBI, Alfonso Soriano is once again a solid slugger at the big-league level. He is also due to make $18 million in each of the next two seasons. His high performance provides the Cubbies with a window to trade him. Ken Rosenthal reported that at least one team has interest in the veteran outfielder.
Sellers: Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are in a very interesting situation right now. They have some very bad contracts, though their huge investment in Cole Hamels is not one of them. He is still young at 28 years old and was developed within the Phillies system. The team is out of contention this season and must rebuild in the next few years. The only way players such as Shane Victorino could be dealt is if the Phillies get back prospects who will be ready to start next year.
Sellers: New York Mets
After a great first half, the Mets have won just one game since the All-Star break and could try to make a move. Johan Santana’s injury hurts them, as he is due so much money andcould have been traded. The Mets would have been happy to deal him in return for prospects.
With Santana injured, if there is a Mets player to be traded, it’s infielder Daniel Murphy. Jordany Valdespin has been incredible this season and offers more versatility and better defense than Murphy. However, the Mets will only make a trade if they get something back which they are really able to use, such as a power arm for the bullpen.
Sellers: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have been buyers recently, bringing in players such as Zack Greinke and Aramis Ramirez, but it has not worked out. The best case scenario for them is that Greinke decides to stay in Milwaukee, which may not be very realistic. The Brewers were also shopping reliever Francisco Rodriguez and tried to increase his value. K-Rod, however, imploded with blown saves in consecutive appearances against the Phillies, likely costing the Brewers some prospects.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses four players worth picking up off the waiver wire this week.
Daniel Murphy, 2B, Mets
Murphy has nine hits in last 11 at-bats but has been resting against lefties. Though he is hitting .274 against southpaws, he has just a .295 OBP with a .359 SLG against them.
Travis Snider, LF, Blue Jays
Snider hit his first homerun of the season on Sunday and is now hitting .364 through three games in the majors. He had 13 home runs with 56 RBI in 56 games at Triple-A.
Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies
The injury to Troy Tulowitzki allowed the Rockies to give their 2010 third-round pick Josh Rutledge a chance to play every day. He now boasts a six-game hitting streak with a .353 season average and three steals. The 23-year-old looked like a five-tool talent at Double-A this season.
Justin Maxwell, OF, Astros
After missing a few weeks due to injury, Maxwell has returned in a big way for the Astros, as he blasted his ninth home run of the season on Sunday. Maxwell has a ton of power, and though he does swing and miss a lot, he has also drawn some walks. With the Astros slowly improving, he could become a legitimate slugger in the big leagues.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss four players who have made or will soon make their major league debut and could help your fantasy team.
Anthony Gose, OF, Blue Jays
Gose picked up a single in his debut as a pinch hitter against the Yankees on Tuesday. Just 21 years old, he boasts a high on-base percentage and even stole 70 bases a year ago. He is not a power hitter, which is fine for a Toronto lineup with plenty of them. The injury of Jose Bautista opens a door for Gose, who does strike out a little too often for a player most dangerous when on the base paths.
Matt Harvey, SP, Mets
The season-ending injury to Dillon Gee opens the door for Harvey to eventually make his debut. For now, the Mets will go with veteran spot starter Miguel Batista, but General Manager Sandy Alderson did confirm that we will see Harvey this season with the Mets. Harvey has been a bit wild this season but he does miss bats and even hit a home run with a .267 average as a batter at Triple-A.
Wil Myers, OF, Royals
The former catcher is shining bright at Triple-A this season with 15 home runs, 46 RBI and a .313 average through 53 games. The Royals are very much playing for the future and will likely be sellers this summer in order to open up some playing time for Myers. Look for Lorenzo Cain or Jeff Francouer to be on the move to get Myers some Big League at-bats.
Starling Marte, OF, Pirates
The Pirates are a small-market team and usually prefer to upgrade from within. For the first time in a while, they will have that opportunity the second they call up Starling Marte. The outfielder has 11 home runs and 18 steals while batting .292 at Triple-A. Marte is bound to mesh well with Andrew McCutchen as the Pirates look to win the division.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw break down four players worth picking up right now in your fantasy league.
Jordany Valdespin, 2B/LF, Mets
Valdespin is a middle infielder at heart, but the Mets have a need in left field with Jason Bay clearly a fragment of the slugger that he once was. While Bay is batting .179 with four home runs, Valdespin is now hitting .269 with five home runs and has a .354 average since June 10. Valdespin is far from perfect, as he does not draw many walks, but he does have an electric bat. In the minor leagues last season, he boasted 17 home runs with 38 steals.
Adam Lind, 1B, Blue Jays
Lind is hitting .339 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 18 games since his return from the minor leagues on June 25. He will suffer with Jose Bautista out of the lineup but he is swinging a hot bat and should be picked up by anyone in need of some power in their fantasy leagues.
Andruw Jones, LF, Yankees
Jones is now something of a one-trick pony, as he offers power but very little of anything else. He is batting .239 on the season but boasts 12 home runs in just 134 at-bats. Now that word has come out that the Yankees will likely be without Brett Gardner for the remainder of the season, Jones should get some decent playing time.
Michael Brantley, OF, Indians
On Tuesday, Michael Brantley was batting cleanup for the Indians. This was a major surprise for a batter with a .384 slugging percentage last season. However, Brantley is just 25 years old, and he is starting to hit with some power. In 28 fewer games played than last season, Brantley already has just one fewer extra base hit than a year ago, which places his slugging better than .430. He also has 10 stolen bases so far this season.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchors Rob Shaw and Julie Alexandria discuss the top five stories in baseball after the All-Star break.
Will R.A. Dickey win 20 games?
Baseball fans are trying to figure out if R.A. Dickey is Tom Candiotti or Phil Niekro. At 12-1, Dickey is enjoying a banner season and arguably would be the NL Cy Young award winner if the season ended today. The problem for Dickey is that the season does not end today and he still has about 15 starts to go. Can he possibly continue his dominance and nab another eight wins for an even 20?
Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro attained three different seasons with 20 or more wins. On the other hand, Dickey might only win another 3-5 games this season and finish with a solid, but more expected total that is more in line with a solid hurler, such as knuckleballer Tom Candiotti, who won 14, 15 and 16 games in his career.
What becomes of Tim Lincecum?
The good news is that Tim Lincecum is on pace to strikeout 200 batters. The bad news is that he is also approaching 100 walks, which could lead to some time in the bullpen. We’ve had some surprises this year that fill the bust category. As of now both Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols join a recent trend of major free agents struggling with new franchises.
Lincecum is pitching for the very franchise he came up with and has dominated for the last five seasons. However, he is getting hit often and hard, and with a 3-10 record and 6.42 ERA you have to wonder if he will stick in the starting rotation all season long. Lincecum hasn’t made it out of the fourth inning in back-to-back outings.
Where will Zack Greinke end up?
The Brewers have had their struggles and perhaps for that reason, Zack Greinke’s performance has gone under the radar. He is 9-3 with 111 K’s and a 3.32 ERA. With the Brewers five games out of first place, the team will be in sell mode especially if Greinke does not indicate that he wants to stick there.
So what teams could be interested? How about the Baltimore Orioles, or the St. Louis Cardinals? Greinke’s presence could make a world of difference in how this ost-season shapes up.
Are the Phillies buyers or sellers?
The Phillies are in dead last place in the National League East. They opened the season without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and now that they are coming back, the pitchers have been out: Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay.
The big question for the Phillies is figuring out whether or not Cole Hamels will stay as a free agent. There have been rumblings that he could be destined to the Dodgers, which would leave the Phillies in a bind if they do not get anything in return for his services aside from draft picks. Hamels, by the way, is 10-4 with a 3.20 ERA with 118 K’s and a 1.10 WHIP. He has been the ace for the Phillies this season.
Are the Pirates playoff bound?
The Pirates are in first place late in the season for a second straight year. The question is whether they can stick this time and if they learned from last year’s collapse. It looks like they could actually stick this time for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they have an ace with James McDonald boasting a 2.37 ERA with much better control this season. Next, their gamble with AJ Burnett seems to be paying off as he’s been a solid number two. Though the starting rotation lacks depth, the bullpen is strong enough to let leads stick.
Finally, on offense there are several solid players, then an MVP candidate in Andrew McCutchen and a potential star in Pedro Alvarez. The Pirates lack some depth, but so far they have been good enough, and with extra wild card spots available, this team could advance.
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Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the weekend in baseball and how it affects your fantasy team.
Martin Perez, SP, Rangers
Perez made his major league debut Saturday night against Oakland. The 21-year-old southpaw had five strikeouts and gave up six hits, one walk and two earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched. He had struggled in the minor leagues this season with a 1.29 K/BB ratio at AAA. However, he has been better in the past and there is reason to be excited about his future.
Chris Young, SP, Mets
Young has only started 13 games since 2010, but his numbers during that stretch are among the best in baseball. He has a 2.19 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, compared to Roy Halladay’s 2.60 ERA and 1.05 WHIP and Cliff Lee’s 3.00 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. This season, he has started five games, his greatest workload since 2009. The last time he made 20 starts was in 2007.
Jim Thome, Orioles
Thome spent his first 12 seasons with the Cleveland Indians and has since been on seven teams over the last 10 years. Moving to Baltimore allows him to play more regularly as a designated hitter. He has had 40 home runs in 553 at-bats over the last two years and could bring some power to the Orioles’ lineup and your fantasy team.
Shaw also discusses three players whose slumps have ended and who are putting up big numbers in recent weeks. First is Mets first baseman Ike Davis, who has six home runs, 24 RBI and a .333 average in 19 games since June 9th. Second, Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez has seven home runs, 19 RBI and a .377 average in 15 games since June 16th. Finally, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer has a .423 average, one home run and three RBI in his last seven games.
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BY ROB SHAW
The New York Mets can finally move on from the loss of Jose Reyes, as they opened the season with two straight wins against the Braves. The team has accomplished the hot start because of the rise of young talent including Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, and Ike Davis as well as some help from old friends most notably David Wright and Johan Santana.
The two wins were not exactly expected. Mets fans had been in mourning for several months as the news of the Madoff scandal attracted the most attention and the poster boy for the Mets reversal of financial fortune was the loss of the greatest shortstop in franchise history, Jose Reyes to the rival Marlins.
Wright understands as much as anyone how difficult it is to replace a talent like Reyes, but he also knows that the team has to move on, “You know one player, granted he’s very good and he’s a great player and great teammate, but you cannot worry about who is not here. I have a tremendous relationship with Jose, I’ve got a ton of respect for him, like I said, I think he’s one of the best position players to put this Mets uniform on, but that’s not how this game works, we’ve still got games to play and games to win and we need other players to step up and fill that void,” said Wright.
Another former teammate of Reyes and Wright, Endy Chavez explains the shock he felt when word came out that Reyes was no longer a Mets shortstop, “That was unbelievable, I understand this is a business, but to Reyes leaving New York, just saying Jose Reyes is like saying New York Mets, so it’s something crazy, but you know things happen in baseball and that’s one of those things.”
Finally, Reyes himself understands that he has to move on. His role goes from helping the Mets to now competing against them with a long-time rival, “You know in the beginning it was a little weird for me because all of my career I played with David the same thing, but now I have to adjust to the new team, so I know I was there with David for a long time and we every year became very good friends, I’m going to miss David and I wish him all the best.”
While the loss of Reyes is certainly hard to swallow for Mets fans, one thing that would make it easier is the return to prominence of Wright. The 29-year-old franchise player has tallied five hits and two RBI through the first two games of the season. It looks like the drawn in fences could be exactly what Wright needs to get his confidence back. The young up-and-coming Mets look at Wright to set the tone.
“Huge, huge key for us, David is. Not only as a player, but clubhouse guy. He’s awesome in the clubhouse and he keeps us motivated, we follow him and where he goes we go,” says Mets slugger Lucas Duda.
First baseman Ike Davis adds on Wright, “Definitely a big part of our lineup and he’s going to be the leader of the team and it’s really exciting seeing him play again.”
Meanwhile, the pitching has been great and the biggest surprise of them all is Johan Santana. After picking up 29 wins the first two seasons with the Mets, Santana has just 11 over the last two seasons, missing all of 2011 due to surgery. However, he was back on the hill on Opening Day and gave the type of performance that will gain confidence in the ball club.
“He’s been the bright spot so far this spring, just his health, the way he’s throwing the ball, so I’m excited about what he’s going to bring to the table this year, and it will be a lot of fun to play defense behind him,” says Wright.
As impressive as the Mets have been, this is still very much a rebuilding year. In fact, if Jason Bay and/or Johan Santana can sustain their production, there is a really good chance that they will get traded. The Mets may be able to hang around .500 for the majority of the season, but the bright days ahead will be when their top pitching prospects develop into stars that can compete with Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg on the Nationals. Maybe then, the big three in Philadelphia will no longer be in their prime. The question is whether David Wright will still be a Mets third baseman.
By Tommy Rancel //
Two-time Tommy John surgery survivor and former 18-game winner Chris Capuano will try another comeback, after signing a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the New York Mets.
Capuano broke off talks with his former team, the Milwaukee Brewers, due to uncertainty over his future role. The Brewers did not want to commit a rotation spot, while Capuano is not yet ready to make a permanent move to the bullpen. The Mets have a few openings at the back end of their rotation and little financial flexibility with a top-heavy payroll. On paper, the pairing seems like a good marriage of ability and need.
Because of injury, Capuano did not pitch in the major leagues in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, the lefty returned to make 24 appearances (9 starts) for the Brewers. In most cases, results immediately following major arm surgery should be taken with a grain of salt. On the other hand, in 66 innings of work Capuano appeared to be very much the same pitcher he was pre-operation.
Looking at his 2010 peripheral stats most notably: strikeouts, walks, and home runs per nine innings (K/9, BB/9, HR/9), he was right in line with his career numbers.
Also returning to career form was Capuano’s pitch selection and velocity. He remains a three-pitch starter, featuring a fastball, slider, and change-up. He was not a hard-thrower before the injuries, and his fastball remained in the upper-80s upon his return.
The Mets are taking a small risk on Capuano, who will earn a base salary of $1.5 million, but when healthy he is a league-average pitcher who could benefit from pitching his home games in the Mets’ spacious stadium. No stranger to the big fly (career 1.27 HR/9), a healthy Capuano could see his home run rate drop significantly in New York. After pitching most of his career in a noted launching pad (Miller Park), he moves to Citi Field, which ranked 27th in home runs per game in 2010 according to ESPN’s park factors.
Obviously, the concerns over another arm injury are real. And even if he remains healthy, there are questions about stamina (Capuano threw 100 or more pitches just once in 2010) over the course of an entire season. Meanwhile, there is the chance Capuano gives the Mets 150-plus innings of league average work or better thanks to the new digs.
It is a risk the Mets are willing to take and one you should consider at the back end of your NL-only draft. In standard mixed leagues, you can probably pass.