Into the breech we go, as Week 2 and full time box score tracking is back as a primary function in our fantasy lives.
So, let's get started with Detroits fourth outfielder, Ryan Raburn, a player who has not received a lot of at-bats as of yet this year, but, a player I really encourage some patience with should you have him, especially in a deep format. Raburn had a nice .533 slugging average last year, whacking 16 homers over 291 at-bats. Better, he has already logged a game at second base which could give some nice flexibility. Just remember, though, it is a long season, and if Raburn gets 250 at-bats, he will likely give you your investment. Just try to be a little patient.
Same with Mike Napoli, who seems to be on everyone's dog list. Through eight games last year, Naps was .214-2-5, so the outlook was not all that much better. But, this is a guy who has whacked 20 homers in each of the last two seasons. True, Jeff Mathis is getting more starting time now, but that is because he boasts better defense. However, Mathis is a career .203 hitter with a career .278 OBP. Napoli will get his licks, and he will give you your double digit homers, and ideally be better rested the second half this year (his average dropped from .293 with a .380 OBP first half to .249, .309 the second).
San Francisco picked up Todd Wellemeyer, and he could be a nice addition/stash in a deeper league. Wellemeyer had a great 2008 in St. Louis, going 13-9, 3.71 over 191 innings, but fell off last year to 7-10, 5.89 over 121 innings. The 191 innings represented an increase over any of Wellemeyer's previous seven seasons of 120 innings, and much of his struggles last year I believe can be attributed to that. He came to SF bringing a fastball at 91, and with a strong staff in a pitcher's park, he seems a good bet to deliver as a fifth or sixth starter.
Then there is that schizy Oliver Perez, who pitches great one year, then falls off the edge of the earth the next. Such it was that following his good 2007 (15-10, 3.57) was a worse 2008 (10-7, 4.22), to last year's nightmarish 3-4, 6.82. Perez got his first start Saturday and though he lost, he pitched well, allowing just four hits (and four walks) over 5.2 innings, with six whiffs. When Ollie is on, he has wicked stuff, so watch him carefully, and if you can stash him, do so.
I shuddered when I wound up with Nick Punto on my AL Tout Wars team, but since Punto has been playing pretty regularly, I am less freaked. True, he has no power, but over his career he has averaged .248-3-39, though with 66 runs and 19 swipes and a decent .322 OBP. He does play all over the infield, which does help your flexibility and it looks like he will get the bulk of playing time at third, especially as long as the Twins keep winning. And, Punto has hit both .284 (2008) and .290 (2006) so he is capable of better than that average.
Back to San Francisco, Edgar Renteria set a Giants (including New York) record with 11 hits over his first three games, including a game winning dinger. Coming off a poor 2009 (.250-5-48 with an anemic .635 OPS) I don't think that Renteria is back, however, despite the gaudy start. In 2008 his OPS was .699 (.270-10-55), but that was down from .332-12-57, with an .860 OPS in 2007. I don't see Renteria as a long term contributor in SF, thinking Juan Uribe and Freddie Sanchez as the principle short/second combo there. Renteria has simply lost enough of a step to make a difference in the field and at-bat.
Is Houston bad? it seems so, as the Astros appear to be a team who are lacking a clear direction. Which means at-bats can be found all over, and actually Jason Michaels, again in a deep format, could be useful. He was awful last year (.237-4-16) and in 2008, split between Cleveland and Pittsburgh (.224-8-53) essentially worse. Before that, though, Michaels was a good #4 outfielder, with averages between ,267-.330 over the previous five years. Michaels has some pop and as a fourth outfielder in Houston, could give you some good numbers as a #5 on your NL fantasy team.
With Greg Zaun hurt, the Dodgers advanced catcher AJ Ellis and though I his .278-17-220 totals over 568 games are pretty good, his .398 OBP is great (274 walks to 255 whiffs). Ellis could do well spelling Russell Martin and well, with othere AJs Hinch and Pierzynski, well, maybe there is something to backstops with that moniker?