Low, things are getting tight in most every major league division save the AL West, but even there, as Oakland showed Saturday and Sunday, Texas can be had. This coming Friday, Diane and I will be in San Francisco all weekend, attending the wedding of the daughter of my friend Mark Berenberg (ok, so that would be Emily Berenberg and Mike Schlesinger, and be it known, Mike is a roto-head). On Friday, we have tickets to the Giants and Padres, though, so into it we are indeed.
I doubt Mike will take too much time off the wedding to talk fantasy, but, I will bet he will like knowing the following stuff as he and his league push towards titles (Mike won his league last year).
So, as long as "Mike" is the name, let's start with new Phillie Mike Sweeney who with .297-213-902 totals, they spell a fine career, but newly swapped from Seattle, filling Ryan Howard's shoes will be more than tough. Sweeney has had some nice runs this year even, going .314-6-14 for the month of May, and pretty much nothing, or the DL the rest of the time. Sweeney does have some pop still, but moving to a fastball league can prove to be a rough row to hoe. If you are filling a spot in an NL only format, Sweeney is worth a gamble, but that is about as far as you would want to stretch it.
Looking at a couple of more first base options, I have to hope the Royals finally hand some kind of everyday role to Kila Ka'aihue as I have long been a fan and promoter of the big hitting Hawaiian who has .266-154-598 totals, with a .391 OBP, over 3360 minor league at-bats. Just for grins, I did a comparison with another guy who finally made it at 26, and who walked a lot, Kevin Youkilis, comparing the numbers. Now, Youk only logged 1814 minor league at-bats, and he hit .299-30-205 with a .442 OBP and 327 walks to 214 whiffs, while Ka'aihue has 673 walks to 689 whiffs. Do note that Ka'aihue began his professional career at age 18, while Youk started four years later at age 22. But, I want the Royals to look and see the potential they have in playing this kid. He needs a chance to play every day, and in pretty much any format you can hide him for next year and the future, do so.
Then there is the polar opposite: Carlos Delgado who signed with the hurting Red Sox--who are now Youki-less for the rest of the season. Delgado, now 38, has not played this season, and had an injury-shortened 2009 where he went .298-4-23 over 112 at-bats, with a .393 OBP. Again, Delgado has not faced live pitching in a while, but, lesser players--Adam Kennedy and Scott Podsednik--for example, have come back from vacations, and Delgado cut his chops with Toronto, so he is familiar with the tough AL East. Still, only in the deepest of formats is Delgado worth a gamble.
Few major leaguers have debuted as auspiciously as Toronto's JP Arencibia, who copped four hits including a double two taters his first game on Saturday. The first round selection in 2007 for Toronto, Arencibia was three-fourths through his second season at AAA Las Vegas, improving on last year's .231-21-75 totals over 116 games and 466 at-bats last year, to .303-31-79 this season over 95 games and 379 at-bats this season. Arencibia whacked 32 doubles over both campaigns, and raised his OBP from .284 last year to .360 this season. Arencibia looks to be the starting backstop, of the near future, John Buck or not, and is a nice pick up (Lord Zola and I tried to FAAB him on our NFBC team, but failed) in any format, especially if you can freeze him for under $7 or so for 2011.
Brett Wallace is another prospect--and former Jay, amongst other things--that you want to latch on to. Wallace, drafted by the Cards in the first round of 2008 was sent to Oakland as part of Matt Holliday swap, then off to Toronto, and now to Houston where Wallace takes over the first place spot vacated by Lance Berkman. A teammate of Arencibia, Wallace hit .301-18-61 in Las Vegas this season over 385 at-bats and totalled .304-46-160 over 1260 minor league at-bats, and is a great pick-up in any format, especially for the future.
The Angels made a big change, moving Torii Hunter to right field, opening center to Peter Bourjos, their tenth round pick in 2005. Bourjos has advanced nicely over the past three seasons, starting at High-A Rancho Cucamonga in 2008 (.295-9-51), to AA Arkansas last year (.281-6-51) to a nice .314-12-52 at AAA Salt Lake this year, meaning he is handling a good level jump each season. Expect Bourjos to take a few lumps, but also expect the Angels to stick with him for a spell. That does not, however, mean he will be muchhelp to your roto team in the near future. Pass for now.
Atlanta promoted their #1 selection last year, Mike Minor to the Show. Split between AA Mississippi and AAA Gwinett this year, Minor was 6-7, 3.44, striking out 146 over 120.1 innings, allowing 95 hits and 46 walks meaning every 3.3 batters he faced whiffed. Not much more one can say than that.
Finally, in this year when so many terrific young players have had their first taste of the bigs, The Rays promoted Jeremy Hellickson, early in the week, and the youngster hurled seven innings, winnings, and allowing three hits and a pair of walks while whiffing six. Hellickson was then sent back down to Durham where he was 12-3, 2.45 with 123 strikeouts over 112.1 innings. Again, this is a player you want on your team for the future.