Welcome back for Week 3 of the 2010 Season, a time where hitters seem to be settling in, although our teams do indeed bounce up and down in the standings like ping pong balls. And, sorry for the late posting, but so many directions these days, and just not enough time.
Still, even this early in the season there are indeed names who spring up week to week, and though it is tough to be patient and wait for Mark Teixeira to break out of his slump, a good owner is always looking and thinking about tweaking his or her lineup. Although there is a fine line between being too passive and letting your team go with too little intervention, and overmanaging and overthinking.
That said, let's take a peek at the players who grabbed my eye over the last cycle.
I saw Doug Fister pitch in the spring, and to tell you the truth, the 26-year old reminded me a lot of a guys like Mark Hendrickson and Jon Rauch. You know those tall guys (Fister is 6'8") who seem like the'y should be overpowering, but really are not. Kind of like Desi Wilson seems like he should have had a lot of power (Wilson was 6'7" and 240 pounds, yet he only hit two homers over 130 major league at-bats). Well, Fister shut out Oakland last week on three hits, a week after he was unimpressive, lasting four innings (six hits, three walks). Somehow, though, the 480 hits he allowed as a minor leaguer over 417.1 innings still tells me I really don't want to take a chance on Fister unless I have a serious hole in my pitching. I think Fister will be a weight on your ERA and WHIP.
Looking locally, as in Bay Area, I picked up Gabe Gross in both my AL only leagues, hoping he would show some of that promise and get a little playing time. Then the Athletics did the correct thing, in building a starting outfield with Coco Crisp, Raj Davis, and Ryan Sweeney, but with Crisp injured, I thought Gross would get a chance. And, over the ocurse of the season, he would do ok. Well, then Travis Buck sneaked past both Gross and Jack Cust to grab the starting gig, but over the weekend Buck's slump and some good games (four hits, two RBI) from Gross, shifted the playing time back to the former Jay. As with Buck, Eric Chavez is getting every chance to compete and prove himself, but I am guessing if Chavez keeps struggling, Cust will be back to replace him, and Gross will hang as well. The A's have a good team defensively, and their pitching is fine, and they can hit for average and exhibit speed. But, they lack pop. They will need Gross (who belted 13 homers over 301 at-bats for Tampa in 2008) and Cust to come through when Buck and Chavy don't.
Across the bay, in San Francisco, Eugenio Velez will get the bulk of playing time with Aaron Rowand down after a beaning. Velez can be electric, with terrific speed. And, he tied into a Ramon Troncoso pitch Friday with a tremendous blast, showing his power. Velez has speed, and his average is ok (.267 as a minor leaguer) but he is also a free swinger (.310 career OBP) and can hurt you as much as he can help you.
In Texas, they have a nice little team, with some pitchers who could be ok despite hurling in Arlington. Add fifth starter Matt Harrison to the list following two very good starts so far . Harrison actually had better strikeout totals (454 over 654 innings) in the minors, and was only 22 when he made the Rangers rotation in 2008, going 9-3, but with a 5.49 ERA. He is 0-1, 1.38 right now over two starts and 13 innings, and he is on a team that can hit, which is the closest you can hope for when trying to draft to wins.
Back to the Senior Circuit, the Reds debuted 2010 #1 pick Mike Leake last week and after two starts Leake is 0-0, 2.63, with 8 strikeouts over thirteen innings, but 12 walks which is a bit disconcerting. Leake, the PAC-10 player of the year and eighth pick overall last June somehow jumped past Stephen Strasburg and even his teammate Aroldis Chapman, though because he is a rookie and first pro, well, expect some lumps. Better to keep him stashed on your reserve roster if you can.
Lefty Greg Smith, a sixth round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2005, who was swapped with Chris Carter and Brett Anderson to Oakland as part of the Danny Haren deal, then moved to Colorado with Carlos Gonzalez for Matt Holiday has made the Rockies rotation and assembled a couple of good starts. The LSU alum is not a strikeout guy, but he also has managed to keep the hits well below his total innings (184 over 207.3 major league innings) but has been vulnerable to the long ball (24 over 207 innings). If he can keep the ball in Coors, he could be a nice pick in an NL only format.
My friend Chrissy Chitwood has been hyping the Cards third sacker, David Freese for a couple of years now. Freese, the everyday third sacker in St. Louis, has started the season strong with .353-0-5 totals over his first ten games this year, following a good debut in 2009 (.323-1-7 over 17 games last year). I would like to see Freese appear more patient. As a minor leaguer Freese walked 161 times to 322 walks, but in 2007 Freese walked 69 times to 99 strikeouts, a nice balance. If he can move towards that St. Louis will have a nice player at the hot corner for a few years to come.
Back to the AL for a couple of quickies. First, Andruw Jones is now on the Pale Hose and is hitting .296-3-6 over 36 at-bats. We know he can hit, and Jones is still just 33, so if you need a utility spot filled, he is the guy. At least this week.
Finally, when my mates Glen Colton and Rick Wolf nabbed Yuniesky Betancourt for a buck in LABR they shuddered, but I maintained a $1 starter was always a bargain. So far Betancourt is hitting .318-2-5 and has likely earned his money for Glen and Rick. Remember Betancourt hit .289, .289, and .279 over 2005-08, so he could be just fine on their roster, and even on yours in a deep league. If he keeps it up, even in a shallow format.