What better way to enter the third month of the season than with Johan Santana and his wonderful--and amazing--feat of not just tossing the Mets first no-no in history, but one during his fine comeback season. Stories like this make baseball and its lore, well, storied.
On the other hand it does look as if Jamie Moyer has completed his interesting and prolonged run, along with another name who is the new Willy Loman of journeymen players, it seems, in Bill Hall. Hall was back up with the Orioles for a day, then went back down as the team picked up Steve Pearce from the Yankees. Hard to believe the one time almost Red Sox (drafted, but never signed in 2004), Pirate, Twin, Yank, and now Bird is still just 29. And, after his .333-31-113 Brandon Wood-type season, Pearce was a hot item, but he never lived up to much of that promise any more than Wood has. Basically he fits in well as a complement to Mark Reynolds. Pearce is proof that every player drafted does indeed have a big year in them somewhere. He is also proof that the game is as hard on its players as it is on our expectations.
Before we look at a this week's retinue of major leaguers to consider, if you are playing ultra rules and can grab a minor leaguer (and while we are discussing the Orioles), take a look at Baltimore's #1 pick of last year, Dylan Bundy. Bundy did not sign in time to get any playing time in last year, so his debut was this season at Delmarva, where over his first 30 innings he whiffed 40, allowed five hits, a pair of walks and just a couple of unearned runs. Those are ridiculous totals--tantamount to Matt Moore's overwhemling totals of last year--and if you can grab Bundy and stash him for a couple of years, you will be justly rewarded.
Back to the Mets and their pitching for a paragraph, 24-year old Elvin Ramirez has been hurling in the minors since he was 18. The Dominican product was toiling along under the radar as a ho-hum minor league reliever, although last year the Nationals grabbed Ramirez as a Rule 5 pick. However, Ramirez required arm surgery, and at the end of 2011, was returned to the Mets. Well, something must have happened to Ramirez while recouperating, for he started this year at Binghamton going 0-1, 1.38 with a save over 13 innings, with a 1.07 WHIP (16 strikeous, seven each of walks and hits) and was then promoted to Buffalo where he did even better over 14.2 innings, going 3-0, 0.00, having allowed just five hits and a walk while striking out 19. He could be interesting in an NL only format, especially if the Mets continue to be competitive.
The Dodgers are bringing young hitters up and down at an alarming rate and their newest toy is outfielder Alex Castellanos. Castellanos was originally drafted by the Cards in 2008, but swapped to the Bums last year in exchange for Rafael Furcal. Having split time between teams last year, the 25-year old hit .320-23-85, with 35 doubles, eight triples, and 14 swipes at Double-A. Promoted to Albuquerque, Castellanos was hitting .375-5-14 this month, ten doubles and four triples when summoned. With Juan Rivera still in rehab, and Matt Kemp likely down another month, Castellanos could indeed see some playing time. He was off to a hot start hitting .500-0-2 with a triple over his first three games. Of all the players, however, the Dodgers have promoted, I like Castellanos and Scott Van Slyke, whom I see taking over full time at first base before the season is over, best. Worth some FAAB in an NL only format right now.
The Braves have stopped the Tyler Pastornicky experiment at short, and will now begin the Andrelton Simmons experiment at short. A 22-year old from Curacao, Simmons hit a solid .311-1-52 last year at Lynchburg last year, with 69 runs and 26 steals to go with 35 doubles. Simmons does wield a good contact bat, having 43 walks to 29 strikeouts last year, although he was caught 18 times trying to steal last year: something that he will need to work on. This year at Gwinnett, Simmons was hitting .292-3-21, and even an imporved ten steals to a pair of caught, and a very good .372 OBP with 20 each of walks and strikeouts. Truth is, I like his potential better than I did Pastornicky's. If Simmons can hold his own on defense, he could be all right.
This seems to be a week for relief arms, so another worth scouring is the Phils Michael Schwimer, also from the Draft of 2008 out of the University of Virginia. As a minor leaguer, Schwimer was a fine 22-11, 2.60 over 252.2 innings, with 55 saves. Schwimer allowed just 202 hits, and managed 332 strikeouts to just 84 walks (1.13 WHIP), all fine numbers. Middle relievers are actually very helpful in most formats, especially as the season progresses and we seek to keep good numbers stable, while earning strikeouts, an occasional win, and best of all, these guys are usually available and interchangable. Meaning Schwimer is as safe a gamble as you can get.
So might be Sam Freeman, a left-hander the Cards promoted a few days ago. Like Schimer (and Ramirez), Freeman has especially been lights out this year, also climbing two levels, starting with Springfield, where he was 1-3, 1.56, over 17.1 innings, allowing 12 hits, and four walks while striking out 12. Freeman saved a game, and then made six appearances at Memphis (0-2, 4.50) before being called up to new Busch, but among the arms discussed this time, he is most likely back to the minors.
Looking at a couple of veterans guys who are likely hanging out on your reserve list--and note really these guys are really only of value in a very deep mixed format, or an NL or AL only format--Vicente Padilla, now on the Red Sox has been hot, having finished April at 1-0, 8.00 over six appearances and nine innings, but improving to 0-0, 2.92 with a save in May. Over 12.1 May innings, Padilla whiffed ten, allowed 12 hits, and walked three (1.29 WHIP). On a team that is still waiting to really get hot, the veteran Padilla is not a bad gamble at all.
Oakland lefty Jerry Blevins had also been dominant, having gone six straight appearances without allowing a run, and posted a 1.98 ERA in March, and a 1.93 equivalent in May, giving him 0-0, 1.85 numbers (he has appeared in June) over 24.1 innings, with 23 strikeouts, allowing ten walks and 16 hits (1.06 WHIP). This is the guy of all the relief arms I would target first.