Into the first sort of week of play we go, although as I write it is indeed Sunday, and a full complement of games has presented itself. Which is good fun, much like going to a good smorgasboard where most of the food/match-ups are worth pursuing.
Of course that means some players on our rather extensive list of curiousities that make up this week's Hotpage are not worthy of much use for your roto team or you, but to start with, Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain certainly is. Acquired in 2010 as part of the swap that sent Zack Greinke to the Brewers, Cain made a splash with .306-1-13 totals, with seven swipes, that year as a Royal over 158 at-bats, but then spent 2011 largely at Triple-A Omaha (23 major league at-bats last year) but with Melky Cabrera gone, Cain is the main man in center for the Royals. With a .295 minor league average, a .368 OBP (272 walks to 575 whiffs), 156 doubles and 141 swipes, Cain should be on just about every imaginable roster and format. The only question is team depth, and whether he rides the bench awaiting an opportunity.
The Tigers do not shy away from advancing their young pitchers. Justin Verlander climbed quickly, and Rick Porcello probably before he was ready. So, enter Drew Smyly, a second round pick in 2010 of the Tiger stripes. He has had 22 starts in the minors since being drafted, going 11-7, 2.26 over 127.2 innings. Smyly whiffed 131 while walking just 38 and allowing only 106 hits (1.14 WHIP), but, he has only one start above Double-A (0-1, 16.20 over 1.2 innings). He is worth watching, but probably not worth grabbing unless you can stash the 22-year old left somewhere on a reserve list.
OK, let's start the closer patrol. And, believe me, if the names Alfredo Aceves, Mark Melancon, Jose Valverde, Kyle Farnsworth, and even Mariano Rivera are not freaking you out right now, do look at the Nationals Henry Rodriguez. As Rodriquez was drafted by Oakland, I did get to see him in 2009-10, and the dude does indeed bring it at 100 MPH. He is the perfect replacement for the ailing Drew Storen, letting Tyler Clippard stay in his effective setup role. FYI, Rodriguez does have 110 whiffs over 98 innings, with just 86 hits allowed. It is the 61 walks that are the bugaboo, but hey, as long as he converts.
So, next I need to acknowledge Fernando Rodney, the current closer for the Rays while Kyle Farnsworth is convalescing. Rodney is a tease in the Rodriguez mold: he throws hard. The righty has 431 innings under his belt with 391 strikeouts, but 396 hits, and 233 walks (1.458 WHIP). Rodney also has a pair of saves, and the guy he is spelling--Farnsworth--has just as confused a resume. Actually, my mate Scott Pianowski of Yahoo! said it best with a Tweet earlier in the day: "The only thing worse than not getting Rodney as a FAAB pickup is getting Rodney."
Add the White Sox Hector Santiago to that group, for the Pale Hose pen is just a bit shaky as well. But, the 23-year old Santiago is another potentially dominant force, with 365 minor league strikeouts over 343 minor league innings (302 hits, 157 walks, 1.33 WHIP). Santiago earned the save Saturday for Chicago's south side, and he may still be in the wings, but keep your eye on the guy. Robin Ventura's has his there.
Late last year I was told by the Giants office folks that Brett Pill did not really factor in the Giants future plans. Small wonder as Pill, a first sacker, has Brandon Belt and Aubrey Huff in front of him, not to mention the Giants want to play Buster Posey some at first, and eventually Pablo Sandoval will need a new home for his girth no matter how quick the big guy is. Still, Pill can hit (.312-25-107 at Fresno last year) as he is one of three Giants to homer his first professional at-bat. In fact he has two at-bats this year, one a pinch homer, and one a walk, so the guy can get on base. Pill, however, is no more than a right handed bench bat. A good one, but that is it, though maybe S.F. can figure a way to ship him across the bay to Oakland where the Athletics could surely use any kind of bat.
Two pitchers I would run from right now? First is the Braves Jair Jurrjens, who was clobbered his first start (0-1, 6.23 over 4.1 frames) who is a lot more like his 2010 7-6, 4.64 than his 2011 13-6, 2.96. Jurrjens is just not overpowering (483 whiffs over 706.1 innings) and the guys makes me nervous.
Same with Arizona's Josh Collmenter, whom I have on three teams right now, and who will be riding the bench on all three for a while. Collmenter, much like Jurrjens and Joe Saunders, has to be sneaky, and guys like that make me nervous. While watching the Giants tee off of Collmenter on Sunday, announcer Mike Krukow said it best: "Collmenter is simply not fooling anyone." Well, save me in drafting him, and yes it is early, but at this point I would rather gamble on a guy who can blow the ball passed everyone. Stash either Collmenter or Jurrjens or Saunders should you have them. They do have hot streaks, but the rest of the time, they will kill you. In fact, despite his nice start on Saturday, add Tommy Hunter of the Orioles in that mix as well.
San Diego has a lot of nice young players, and a lot of outfield options, but I really like Chris Denorfia a lot. Now 31, a 19th round pick out of Wheaton in 2002 by the Reds, Denorfia has had all kinds of injury issues over the years, but, he also can hit and get on base. The outfielder has played 340 games as a major leaguer, with 212 as a Padre over the past three years, he is .271-14-55 with 19 swipes. Maybe that is only good as a fifth outfielder in an NL only format, but within that environ, that is pretty good.
Adam LaRoche hit .172-3-15 over 151 at-bats last year, but even with that, his nine-year 162-game average is .268-26-92 with an .816 OPS. LaRoche is back, with a pair of homers through the weekend, meaning he is back. He should be active on any kind of roster, helping your team with those terrific numbers. By the way, LaRoche's resurgance helps the Nationals a lot, for his presence means Mike Morse can play in the outfield, making that collection noticably better.
Finally, early in the spring it looked to me like Seattle's great right fielder Ichiro Suzuki was on the down side. Ichiro has six hits his first 17 at-bats, and the 38-year old needs 566 hits to net the magic 3000 in the American Major Leagues. Over his Seattle career, Ichiro has collected an average of 225 hits a season, meaning a little over two years from now he should be there. I am now guessing he will.