It was either Kenny Rogers or Pete Rose that said, “Luck comes and goes. Knowledge stays forever.” Or maybe it was from the movie House of Games. I could see Joe Mantegna growling that. Either way, luck is fleeting but good when paired with a smart bet. Rolling the dice on rookies in fantasy baseball is a gamble some are not willing to take. If you’re one of the squeamish then you have already missed out on the likes of Shelby Miller, Jedd Gyorko, Evan Gattis, Jurickson Profar and Michael Wacha. While it’s true not all rookies turn into a Harper or a Trout, the smart Razzballer likes to gamble. That’s why a lot of us live under a bridge. We may not be so good at craps but at least we win our fantasy league. And that’s something to brag about when you’re passing around the bottle of Thunderbird. “To all my friends. Did I tell you guys about the time I drafted Ryan Braun in 2007?” *crickets*
Grabbing a rookie is all about the upside. Sure I could hold onto Mike Moustakas. But with him I know what I’m getting. I’m getting Mike Moustakas. Why not get all Monty Hall and swap him for the rookie behind door #2? He could turn out to be the next Evan Longoria or he could be the next Evan Dando. Coo, coo, kachoo. Time to roll out some rookies. With some Razzball knowledge and a little luck you just might win your league. Time to jam it or cram it.
Jam or Cram: Nick Franklin, SS/2B, Seattle Mariners
Availability: 76% Yahoo, ESPN 93%
Stats since call-up: 17 AB, 2 HR, 2 RBI, .235 AV
The Gist: Franklin was called up Monday and promptly hit two homers. After the game Little Nicky was spotted holding a toaster while standing in a kiddie pool, “”I’m still getting my feet wet, and I’m enjoying every bit of it.” Don’t expect more shocking results. Franklin has hit just 11 homers in two seasons at AAA. He is going to get a real shot at playing time though with the demotion of Dustin Ackley.
Upside: Franklin does possess speed and some power. He could hit 15 home runs and steal close to 20 bases.
Downside: He plays at Safeco. If we had a time machine maybe we could travel back to 1961 and bring back Roger Maris. He might hit 15 there.
X-File: Franklin had 23 homers and 25 steals with the Single-A Clinton Lumberkings in 2010. What’s a “lumberking”? Stuff of nightmares.
Jam or Cram: Franklin has been compared to a young Jeff Kent. I’d agree if Nicky was playing his games on the moon. Franklin is worth a roster spot if you were a Rutledge owner, are still holding Danny Espinosa or missed out on last week’s jam Zack Cozart. Jam in deep or AL only leagues.
Jam it or Cram it: Tyler Lyons, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Availability: 81% Yahoo, 83% ESPN
Stats since call-up: 2 starts, 14 IP, 2 ER, 9 K, 1.29 ERA, 0.57 WHIP
The Gist: If you whiffed on Michael Wacha, Lyons deserves your attention. In his debut Lyons pitched seven innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts. Beginners luck, it was against the Padres. In his next start he threw another seven one-run innings allowing just three base runners with five K’s. Alright, ok, it was against the Royals. Lyons gets the Giants this afternoon. The Stream-o-Nator and I wrestled over to start him or not. I won when the Stream became distracted by my Roomba. I started him.
Upside: 12 wins, 70 strikeouts, 4.20 ERA ROS.
Downside: Gets sent packing to Triple-A when Jake Westbrook returns from the DL.
Gooey factoid: Lyons is the only active pitcher who threw at least seven innings without allowing more than one run in each of his first two big league starts. That stat was written somewhere on the bathroom wall of the Razzball lounge. I suspect Scott Evans.
X-File: Lyons wasn’t even ranked among the top 30 prospects in the Cards organization this year.
Jam or Cram: A lot depends on today’s start against the Giants. Lyons is a typical Cardinals pitcher; lots of groundballs, not many strikeouts, doesn’t give up the long ball. Our prospect guy and resident graffiti artist Mr. Evans says, “He’s not an arm with flashy tools, but for as long as he’s in the rotation, I’m trusting him.” Jam a couple starts then cram.
Jam it or Cram it: Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Availability: 71% Yahoo, 73% ESPN Stats since call-up: 32 games, 14 R, 4 HR, 12 RBI, .236 AV
The Gist: Arenado hit three home runs in his first eight games. He has one since. Some “experts” had Arenado making a run into the top 10 of third basemen this year. That’s called “optimism”. In the medical field it’s referred to as “bath salt psychosis”. Arenado’s strength is his contact ability. His contact rate is about 86%. I would expect that stat to translate into good things playing at Coors Field. It hasn’t yet. Arenado has four total extra-base hits since May 16.
Upside: Capable of 10-15 home runs, 55 RBI as things warm up in Denver. Arenado has never hit below .285 at any level.
Downside: Continues to hit .200, rents one-room apartment with Josh Rutledge in Colorado Springs, falls off top bunk, breaks pelvis.
X-File: Arenado led all minor league players with 122 RBI in 2011.
Jam or Cram: For all intensive porpoises Arenado looks a bit lost right now. He has as many strikeouts as he does hits in the last week. Cram. But keep a watch on him as he just might start to heat up. Or is that the bath salts talking. Who said that?!
Jam it or Cram it: Marcell Ozuna , OF, Miami Marlins
Availability: 90% Yahoo, 89% ESPN
Stats since call-up: In 30 games he’s put up 14 R, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 3 SB, .321 AV, .823 OPS. Had a 16-game hitting streak snapped last night.
The Gist: The waiver wire is kind of like the salad bar at Sizzler: Take all you want, forget the rest and avoid anything that stinks of marlin. So why make a case for Marcell the Shell? Ozuna is actually one of the Marlins that passes the smell test. The 22-year old outfielder has made a permanent spot for himself in the lineup even if Giancarlo comes back. Ozuna is slashing .321/.367/.446 in 112 at-bats. *this just in: Giancarlo Stanton contracted pinkeye from his pet turtle and is out until July* Ozuna has 11 hits in his last seven games (.440).
Upside: Ozuna has 20-25 home run potential the rest of the way. The problem is he might only drive in 26.
Downside: Ozuna has very little plate discipline. He has 26 strikeouts and only eight walks. He also needs to watch out for random pitchers mounds appearing in the outfield.
X-File: Ozuna does have some impressive minor league power numbers. He has hit at least 22 home runs in each of the past three seasons.
Jam or Cram: As a gambling man I’ll wager on Ozuna being the best of the jammer crammers this week. Lots of upside. Over 20 home run upside. There’s not many players owned in only 2% of leagues that will give you that. Why hold onto a Nick Swisher or an Andre Ethier when you can roll the dice on an Ozuna? Jam.
Rookies to watch: Yasiel Puig, OF, LA: With Matt Kemp on the DL and Carl Crawford pulling up lame yesterday, it may be Puig time. Puig batted .517 in spring training and is hitting .322 at Double-A Chattanooga.
Anthony Rendon, INF, WAS: Promoted to Triple-A Syracuse Saturday. Hitting .319, 6 HR, 24 RBI in 33 games. Rendon, a third baseman, is playing second with the Chiefs. It won’t be long now.
*Bonus Tracks* Try your luck with these starting streamers:
Marco Estrada MIL vs. OAK: Jam. Estrada has given up only 5 ER in his last two starts.
Jeff Locke PIT vs. ATL: Cram. Has an ERA of 7.71 against the Braves this year.
Dan Haren WAS vs. NYM: Jam. Haren has a 3.38 ERA, 0.98 WHIP in his last 2 starts.
Its blackjack at Foxwoods this weekend, but your humble Guru is here for questions, comments and inspiration. Follow The Guru on Twitter for the daily jam it or cram it @TheGuruGS