Manny Ramirez is no stranger to controversy removing him from the field, which makes it even stranger that controversy may end up putting him back on the field. The Rangers, who have Manny playing in their minor leagues, have been insistent that they have no need for Ramirez on their major league squad. However, that could change with Nelson Cruz accepting his 50 game suspension. I want to address a larger point in that over-the-hill sluggers are sometimes worth the gamble, even when they seem unlikely to produce. Yes, I’d take the same approach with Alex Rodriguez (Steamer projects a decent .258/.340/.438 line for him). I know it tends to be unpopular because they aren’t as exciting as younger players, but, depending on the size of your league, they still have value. If you have any doubts about a player being productive at an unlikely age, I’ll give you my Exhibit A: David Ortiz, who is likely well into his seventies. If Manny gets another chance in the majors, I wouldn’t expect Ortiz-like production, but something similar to Steamer’s A-Rod projection seems reasonable. That would be helpful at removing some of the weight from losing any fantasy baseball players to a suspension. Anyway here are some less controversial players I’m following in OPS leagues:

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Through the first three months of the 2013 season, Nate McLouth was running the bases like a man possessed. 8 stolen bases in April. 9 stolen bases in May. Another 7 steals in June. Heading into July, he had already eclipsed his full season career high! Then it all came to a screeching halt. During the month of July, McLouth stole 1 base in 2 attempts. That’s insane. How do we go from a guy who looks like he will easily steal over 40 bags to a guy that we’re praying will get to 30 steals for the season. His average was just as good in July as it was in the previous months, so it’s not like he didn’t have any opportunities. So what gives? Why do some guys just suddenly stop stealing? If you think it’s that he was running a little over his head given his previous steals totals, you’d be right. If you think that it’s more an issue of opposing teams handling him differently, you’re also right. It’s both.

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John Rocker said baseball was “better with steroids.” Sure it is, if you enjoy atrophic testicles and 980 foot home runs. Atrophic testicles are also available at Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen. Winner, winner, gonad dinner. John Rocker loves his ‘roids. He also said other incredibly “poignant” things that can be enjoyed in his new children’s book, It’s a Small World (Who Let the Asians in). Hey, I’m no literary critic and I’m certainly no doctor, I’m a guru dammit, but steroids are bad for your spunk tanks and bad for your fake baseball team. This whole Biogenesis thing is ugly, but the real tragedy is the impact on the fantasy universe! The steroid hammer of death is about to fall on the junk of Nelson Cruz, Everth Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and of course John Rocker’s new housemate on Spike TV’s I’m a Celebrity Douche…Get Me Out of Here, Alex Rodriguez. Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon may have dodged the wrath of Bud, so light a candle, kick Melky to the curb and hold onto Colon for now. The rest will be gone for the year and sipping HGH fortified Manischewitz with the original fallen hammer, Ryan Braun. If you have not got a jump start on your league mates already, consider today’s blog a syringeful of anabolic fantasy help. Hope we don’t grow man boobs. Or maybe I do. It’s time to jam it or cram it. We’re on the juice!

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First and foremost, I’d like to start this little piece off with a big thanks to all of those who read these creeper posts. It’s meant a lot to me but I’m afraid I have to move on from them for a while…like for a week. You think I’d abandon you? Never! You’re like a box of fluffy little kittens left outside a grocery store in November. If I could, I’d take you all home with me. But I can’t afford that so I’m gonna have to do the most humane thing I can which is sack you up and drown you in the river…whoops, where was I going with this insanely dark path? I don’t know. I’ll be out next week. Deal with it. But that doesn’t mean I’m not here for you this week, friends. Nope, I’m all in on it for you this week as we examine the curious life of Kole Calhoun and how he’s here to help you for week 19 of the 2013 Fantasy Baseball season…but wait, there’s more! If ya didn’t know this by now, I write for the football side here on Razzball as well. If ya didn’t know part deux, we do our own version of the RCLs over there and you get to win sweet Razzball swag that way as well. So let’s say you’re out of it for baseball’s grand prize this year, we’ve got you covered with the Razzball Football Commenter Leagues, peeps! And before you tell me to close my filthy, whorish mouth realize Razzball is like the 3 Musketeers: we’re all for one and one for all! Anythewho, back to talk to you about what we came to do. Ain’t that right, boo? TRUE!

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Drafting Michael Bourn? That’s a paddlin’. Focusing on steals in an OPS league? That’s a paddlin’. Drafting a SAGNOF who hurts your OPS and doesn’t steal bases? Oh, you better believe that’s a paddlin’! In all honesty (which implies that I’m rarely honest with you?), I feel sorry for fantasy owners who were counting on him for stolen bases. Don’t you feel that way too, Matt Kemp? They had their fantasy teams left cold and ashamed, lying naked on the floor. No, let’s not get into Rihanna right now. But I really don’t know where to start with Michael, so I’ll begin at the beginning and go on till I come to the end, then stop. His current .288/.341/.381 line is fine in OBP leagues, but hurts in leagues that use slugging. The fact that he only has 13 steals is puzzling, considering that he’s a guy you would pencil in for 50 a year. Perry Farrell told me to note that Bourn’s been caught stealing seven times, a potential indicator of less speed. To make a not-so-long story short, I wouldn’t count on Bourn turning his season around. Anyway, here are some other guys I’m watching in OPS leagues:

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Norichika Aoki is one of those guys that has come up a lot in the comments on these posts, and for good reason. After posting a really impressive 10 homer/30 steal season in 2012, his steals numbers have been pretty worrisome in 2013. Through the first half of this season, Aoki had only stolen 10 bases and had been caught 10 times. I’m no mathematician, but that’s a pretty lousy 50% CS% and not what you want to see from a guy you drafted for wheels. I had begun to think that Aoki’s first MLB season may have been a blip on the radar when I looked back on his numbers from Japan. Starting with his 2011 season, his steals numbers from his last five years there were 8, 19, 18, 31, and 17. Hence my thinking that last year’s 30 may have been just another blip. Well, Aoki changed some of that thinking this past week with a 9-game hit streak and 4 steals. More importantly, he wasn’t caught in any of those attempts. He’s not somebody that is readily available to pick up of course, but he may have found his way to your bench before his recent hot streak. Get him starting for the coming week because he gets two fantastic match-ups against the Cubs and Nationals, two teams that are terrible against the stolen base this year, and Aoki is looking like he’s ready to run.

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Bob Seger, Chevrolet’s poet laureate, once wrote, “Who wants to play those eights and aces/Who wants a raise/Who needs a stake/Who wants to take that long shot gamble?” The tune was “Fire Lake” and while not his best, (Give me “The Famous Final Scene”) or the best thing out of Detroit (give me The Stooges any day), I do like the line on taking a long shot. I’m a ramblin’ gamblin’ man. Recently we rolled the dice on Marlon Byrd and hit it like a hard ten/a woman’s best friend (For all our Mormon readers, that’s a good thing). Sometimes taking a chance pays off big and it’s Cristal and caviar, sometimes you’re busted and it’s Pabst and pork rinds. We have taken our chances this season, often throwing stats and logic aside. I got a feelin’! Oh, it’s just gas. Stupid pork rinds. Yes indeed, fellow Razzballer’s, we had jammer/crammers that we hit on like Raul Ibanez, Nick Franklin and Koji Uehara. Others left us bankrupt. Damn you Ike Davis! I’m crying real tears over my fake baseball team here. It’s time to take some risks and find us a longshot. Time to put on some Seger, don the Ray-Ban’s and slide across the living room floor in our underwear. It’s time to jam it or cram it.

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Homer has so many different meanings. When I say ‘Homer’, I could be referring to Mr. Simpson himself (or Mr. Plow if you prefer). Conversely, I could be referring to when a player hits the ball out of the park. That would make sense given the context but I’m not going that route either. Even further, I could be referring to the Greek poet but we all know I’m not smart enough for that reference. Or better yet, since we’re talking about a Padre, I could be referring to Jaywrong and his dirty affliction for all things Friars. But nay, I talk not of any of these things. I’m here to talk about being a homer like I’m a rapper and I get to make shizz up. I’m gonna call Yonder Alonso a homer for the coming week for 2013 fantasy baseball and if you’d like to find out why, you’ll have to read on into the next paragraph. Be careful with that first step and I’ll meet you there!

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No worries, fantasy owners: Alejandro De Aza may not speak Swahili*, but this past month his numbers have been music to fantasy owners’ ears. With a .350/.418/.567 line in July, a strikeout rate that has decreased every month of this season, and already reaching a career high in home runs, there are many reasons for optimism. Yes, he struggled early on this season, but he seems to be rounding into form with an approach that attempts to hit for more power. And why not? After all, he plays in a park where Adam Dunn bunted for a home run** last year. I, for one (unless I can speak for more than one?), am embracing the slightly more homer-friendly De Aza. If he continues to steal bases, then he will add to the scarcity of players who steal bases, but don’t destroy your OPS (you know who you are). For the rest of the season, I believe that he will be able to maintain his current .278/.336/.444 line, which represents a slight dip in OBP with a nice bump in slugging. Anyway, here are some other guys I’m dreaming about in OPS leagues:

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When I went hunting for players to write about this week, I had trouble finding somebody for the lede. Most of the tried and true speedsters are owned everywhere, and I wasn’t liking the match-ups I saw for the borderline guys. Then, as the fantasy writer gods often do, they dropped a pair of rookies in my lap. A couple of fresh faces have arrived on the scene in Junior Lake and Jonathan Villar. Lake, a speedy infielder turned outfielder, was called up by the Cubs. While I was mildly interested in his solid debut performance Friday night, I became even more interested when I started to look into his minor league numbers. Like “cyclops with a monocle” interested as they say here in Razzball land. Even more exciting was the Villar call-up that was announced yesterday. The young Houston shortstop also showed above average speed in the minor leagues. We’ll take a closer look at both and set the mood for a little ‘rookie nookie’. Meanwhile, at the adult table, Eric Young continues to rack up the steals and should do some major damage against the Nationals later this week.

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