Welcome back to the Hotpage as we stride into the middle of June, just a month from the All Star Break and the dividing line between those all important first and second half splits. So, while we have that in mind, let's start this week by looking at one of last year's Super Two promotions, Eric Hosmer.
Just 21 a little over a year ago, Hosmer exploded with a terrific .293-19-78 rookie campaign over just 128 games, logging a solid .799 OPS, very good for a first year player thrust into the limelight. So, there were high expectations this season for Hosmer to follow up, and even improve the totals. Unfortunately, Hosmer has seemingly disappointed.
Well, last week, as the Royals and Athletics hooked up for a series, I heard an interview with KC manager Ned Yost, who said that the main problem with Hosmer and his low production was balls were simply not dropping for him. He was hitting the ball on the nose, all right, and having good at-bats, but simply not hitting them "where they ain't."
So, take note that as of May 25, Hosmer was seven points below Mendoza at .193, but since has gone .320 (17-for-53)-2-8, bringing his season totals up to .226-7-29, and suggesting Yost was right. If you have him still, good for you: if you can take advantage of a disillusioned owner, get him. Hotter is yet to come, I suspect.
I am not certain if there is a deader spot on any diamond than first base in Oakland, where the team has been reduced to playing Adam Rosales, after giving up on Daric Barton and now Kila Ka'aihue. Crazy that even Casey Kotchman has a job, but in what should be the easiest spot to fill--left handed hitter and fielder who can hit with some power--Oakland continues to struggle. I mean, we all saw Moneyball by now, and how easily Scott Hatteberg adjusted, right? Well, the latest in line is Brandon Moss, who actually homered during his first game with the Oaklanders. Moss does have 763 at-bats in the majors under his belt (.235-16-79) and that breaks down to .235-10-51 with 24 doubles over 162 games. And that, believe it or not, is way better than anything they have gotten out of the slot since, Scott Hatteberg, perhaps? Not that I am recommending Moss, but if you need a stick in an AL only format, well, he won't hurt you any more than he will the Athletics.
While we are in Oakland, I realize Brian Fuentes has five saves, but ask, "was it worth it?" And, clearly, Grant Balfour is better suited to setup, which means Ryan Cook is a fine acquisition right now. With a 1-1, 0.69 mark over 26 innings, that includes an 0.846 WHIP (seven hits, 15 walks--three intentional--and 25 strikeouts) for a guy who converted 19 with the Dbacks organization last year (1-5, 2.21 over 61 innings) this seems to be a no-brainer. Of course, as noted above, some things just come tough for the Athletics and first basemen and saves seem to be on the list of late.
Looking to a couple of recently promoted arms, the Braves brought forth Julio Teheran again. Again, to remind us, means last year the then 20-year old Colombian struggled a might over five games and three starts with 1-1, 5.03 totals over 19.2 innings. Teheran was a revelation at Triple-A Gwinnett with 15-3, 2.55 over 144.2 innings and 24 starts, and this year at an aged 21, he has been ok with 5-2, 3.15 totals over 11 starts and 54.1 innings. Certainly Teheran appears to have a bright future, and clearly it is time to cut his major league chops. Still, it could be lumpy, and while this visit was a one-day stint to cover for the injured Tim Hudson, only in the deepest of leagues with necessary gambles as the option should you have Teheran active when he inevitably returns.
In the same vein, the Padres promoted Brad Boxberger to help bolster their ailing corps (Tim Stauffer just went on the 60-day DL, while Cory Luebke is lost for the season). The first round pick of the Reds in 2009 (Boxberger was actually picked in the 20th round by the Royals in 2006, but chose USC over) the right hander was part of the Padres spoils when the team parted with Mat Latos (and a deal that is looking very good for San Diego), Boxberger was 1-2, 4.70 at Tucson this year and though he walked 15 and allowed 22 hits over his 23 Triple-A innings, so did he strike out 35. Petco should help him some, and were I to need to make the gamble suggested above with Julio Teheran, I would first go with Boxberger simply because his park is friendlier to pitchers and he has an outisde shit at some saves if Huston Street is traded now that he is back and pitching well.
Continuing with pitchers this time, this week's closer of the week is Seattle's Tom Wilhelmsen, who was born in the same Tucson where Boxberger played the first part of this season (it is always important to tie all of this together). The 28-year old was originally selected by the Brewers in 2002 (seventh round) Wilhelmsen was signed as a free agent by Seattle, and has been 16-12, 3.47 in the minors, basically as a starter, over 238.1 innings. Wilhelmsen has a pretty good minor league WHIP of 1.23 (215 hits, 80 walks, with 193 strikeouts) and well, like Brian Fuentes above, grab the saves where you can at this point. Right?
B.J. Rosenberg was the Phillies 13th rounder out of the University of Louisville in 2008, and the 6'3" right-hander has a solid minor league resume of 19-11, 2.91, over 143 games and 262.2 innings, with 14 starts and 80 games finished (38 saves). Rosenberg has 297 strikeouts to just 84 walks, with 215 hits allowed (1.22 WHIP). Rosenberg is probably just good for relief--at least for now--but the 26-year old could be a nice stabling force in NL only leagues, adding some whiffs and the occasional win.Finishing with a couple of starters, Boston gave Daisuke Matsuzaka his first start this season as part of interleague play against the Nationals, who knocked the righty around for four runs and five hits (plus a walk) over five innings and 80 pitches. DiceK did strike out eight, however, which is pretty good, but his 1.396 ratio is worrisome to me. As are the general troubles the Red Sox seem to attract over the past couple of seasons. He is probably an okay risk in an AL format, but I would be cautious anywhere else (and even at that).
Finally, the Brewers Michael Fiers was a 22nd round selection of the Brew Crew in 2009 out of Southeastern University. Fiers conquered AA (5-3, 2.64 at Huntsville) and then AAA (8-0, 1.11 at Nashville) last year for a cumulative 13-3, 1.86 record over 126 innings. The righty whiffed 132 whille walking just 36 and allowing 86 hits (a killer 0.94 WHIP) although he struggled more at Nashville this season with a 1-3, 4.42 mark (1.21 WHIP). At 26, Fiers is 1-2, 4.50 over three starts and 18 innings. And, though he has allowed 23 hits, Fiers has struck out 17 while walking only two hitters. That last number tells me Fiers could indeed be a nice play in a deep NL format.