Here we are again, streaking to Memorial Day and the first real milepost of the year.
I am looking at having to make some serious decisions on my teams, as I am in the odd position of having players and getting at-bats, and even innings. But, I am not getting anything close to production, which is a killer.
It seems some of the major league venues are in a similar spot--hopefully you are not--as several teams sent distress calls for some good youngsters, while several teams sent some prospects (Scott Sizemore, for example) down and recalled some veterans. In fact this week had as large a contingent of grizzled vets hit the radar, many of whom might help, as any I can remember.
Of course the marquis guys is the Nats Drew Storen, a first round pick in 2009, who was advanced following Sunday's game, to help augment the pen. With Matt Capps closing, the bulk of relief innings have fallen on the excellent Tyler Clippard, who at 7-2, leads the majors in decisions. Storen, who should close eventually, was a sensational 0-0, 1.12, with four saves over 16 innings (15 whiffs, three walks, 12 hits) split between Harrisburg (AA) and Syracuse (AAA). You should not let him slip by in a keeper league, and Storen is a worthwhile risk in pretty much any format.
Remember hot prospect Brent Clevlen? A second round pick of the Tigers in 2002, Clevlen looked great after .282-3-6 September performance in September of 2006, but, he never could do anything in the majors after that. At 26, Clevlen signed with the Braves last year, and this week he was recalled following .259-1-14 totals at Gwinnett. The Braves are good at reclamation projects, although where Clevlen will find an opening is more the question.
Then, the Tribe advanced Trevor Crowe, their first round pick in 2005. Crowe managed .235-1-17 totals with six swipes last year, not enough to keep him in the Show, but his .297-2-20, with 14 swipes and a .401 OBP last year seems to good to keep Crowe at Columbus. So, this year Cleveland, looking for a spark, recalled him with much poorer totals (.244-1-13 with a .298 OBP). Crowe has some shine, but just what he can contribute right now, like Clevlen, is a question mark.
So, now let's look at some very familiar names of vets, all of whom enjoyed a recall or rennaisance this past week, starting locally wher Oakland decided they needed some stick, and recalled Jack Cust. It is true that Cust is a terrible fielder, and it is also true in the Oakland Press Box we identified a new stat, the "Custian Cycle," which means the big man walks, whiffs, homers, and hits into a double play in the same game (it happens more often than you would think). Cust did bang 84 homers, and knock in 229 between 2007-09 for the Athletics, and he could be just fine in the DH slot if given a chance to slug it out every day. The Athletics owe themselves (and you if you have him stashed owe it to your team) to give him a chance.
Then Tampa has the luxury of being the best team in baseball despite have one of the worst DH's in Pat Burrell ( .202-2-13) this season. It is hard to imagine that Burrell whacked 30, and 33 homers respectively for the Phils in 2007 and 2008, but at 33, something is clearly off. The Rays do have Willy Aybar in the wings, but I don't think Aybar, who is versatile, is an everyday guy. So, they recalled Hank Blalock to augment the spot. Hard to believe that Blalock is still just 29, and he has ripped the International League to the tune of .349-4-24, and whatever else be said, he can hit when he is on. Blalock is streaky, and he has not really contributed, even marginally, to a major league team since. 2006. Still, he is a good gamble on a deep team where the pressure will not be so great.
Then Baltimore recalled Corey Patterson, a former starter of the Cubs who had fallen from grace, to replace one of last year's surprises, the slumping Nolan Reimhold. Since 2008, over 424 at-bats, Patterson played with three teams and could not bat over .205, which explains the fall. Just 30, Patterson hit .368 at Norfolk, but like Cust and Blalock, all of them should hit at the AAA level. Patterson, though could be another good flier as with his predecessors on this list, he has little to lose.
If you checked out the Phils, they have struggled with their closer role for a couple of years, and now Brad Lidge is officially on the DL and it looks like Jose Contreras, always exasperating as a starter, might have found his niche. Working in relief for the Rockies last year, Contreras was 1-0, 1.59 over 17 games, and this year is 2-1, 0.68, now with his first major league save and potentially a great niche. Take advantage, and if you have fear, think Ryan Franklin.
Then a longtime fave of mine, Jake Westbrook, tossed only 32.1 innings in 2008 (1-2, 3.12) before he blew his arm out, and the righty sat out all of 2009, and pretty much proceeded to get hammered his first cluster of starts in 2010 (1-2 5.06), but yesterday he tossed a complete game nine-hitter, allowing a walk, and a run, while striking out eight. Methinks he is back and worth a gamble
Finally as a final arm flier, Armando Gallaraga was recalled by the Tigers with the demotion of Max Scherzer. Gallaraga was a mainstay the Tigers rotation last year (6-10, 5.64) but he was 3-0, 1.84 over his first four starts last year before the league caught up with him, and Gallaraga had a nice debut yesterday, holding the Red Sox in check over 5.1 innings, earning a first win. I had him (and several of those mentioned above) stashed on various teams. I do hope they help their teams, and in the process mine, get out of their funk.