The Oakland A’s have been the team to beat in the first half of 2014. They own the best record the majors, their offense, which is comprised of a ragtag bunch of misfits from the other side of the tracks, ranks second among all teams in RBIs and total bases. They lead the league in ERA and WHIP, and they just upgraded their rotation with the acquisition of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, all without the help of fat Jonah Hill. You don’t need Andy Serkis’ acting school to show you you’d be a real monkey to doubt these guys. They’ve been just as good from a fantasy perspective. Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Sonny Gray have carried over their success from 2013, and Jesse Chavez, Sean Doolittle and the two-headed catcher platoon of John Jaso and Derek Norris have all been first half surprises. So which A’s can you hitch a ride on for some second half fantasy glory? Jed Lowrie (2-for-4, RBI) can get real hot, real quick, and is currently on a seven game hitting streak, with multi-hit performances in six of those games. You might want to scoop him up before he explodes, or gets injured again. Similarly, Stephen Vogt (3-for-3, HR (4)) has been excellent since receiving everyday at bats and is slashing .435/.480/.652 over the past two weeks.  He’s got an 11 game hitting streak (six multi-hit games in that span) and two homers in his past three days, and that catcher eligibility makes him extra valuable. P. Diddy says Vogt or die, so you should grab Stephen while he’s still just under 30% owned. We may be through a little over half of the fantasy season so far, but there’s still plenty of time to ride the Oaktown bandwagon to some fantasy glory, at least until they get to San Antonio. #keeptheAsinOakland!

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball Friday night (*All-Star Edition*):

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Cubs.  The lovable losers.  The trade first and ask questions later…ers…

Say what you want about what the Cubs are doing, but I liked their blockbuster deal with the A’s.  John Kruk was slamming it on Sunday Night Baseball (while my boy Rick Porcello got a bitch slap of regression), but then again I’m a Brewers fan and not a Cubs fan!

Last year, the Cubs sold Scott Feldman for current pickup of the year nominee Jake Arrieta.  So that’s one thing they’ve done right!  Both the Shark and Jason Hammel weren’t re-signing, and this ridiculous emergence from Arrieta eases the pain of rebuilding a rotation.

But we don’t really care about Wrigley politics, we just want some nasty stats on our fantasy teams.  Arrieta has been absolutely unbelievable (only Clayton Kershaw has been better the past month) and he had back-to-back no-nos through 7 prior to Sunday’s start.  How legit is this breakout?  Is Arrieta a sell high?  I’ve seen the highlights and bits of some of the previous starts, but I wanted a deeper look into his stuff and decided to Profile how he looked in yesterday’s great outing against the Nationals:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It was a good night for a rally, but a bad night for a closer. Summer is officially here which means we can no longer use the “he’ll heat up as soon the weather warms up” excuse for our struggling stars. And just as the air at Coors makes the balls fly higher, the increased temperature and humidity also causes those baseballs to travel even farther. This time of year the advantage tends to shift from the pitchers to the hitters. It’s science, Mr. White! Fact. Just go ask a scientist. He’ll tell you summer is coming, Jon Snuh, no need to look so depressed all of the time. Perhaps this explains why last night, on Summer’s Eve, a number of closers collectively decided to destroy your ratios in an all out Closer Catastrophe. Let’s start with Zach Britton (0.2 IP, 3 hits, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, BS (2)). I haven’t seen a Yankee beat a Britton like that since the Battle of Saratoga. Revolutionary war joke! (NERD!)  With nine saves in the past month, it’s hard for Britton’s owners to complain here, so let’s move on. Old Reliable Glen Perkins (1.0 IP, 4 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB), was handed his third blown save but managed his third win, in expert vulture stylez. The crowning jewel of last night’s CloserTastrophe, Aroldis Chapman (0.2 IP, 2 hits, 2 BB, 4 ER) was handed the loss after a five run ninth inning capped off by a 3-run HR by Edwin Encarnacion. Say it ain’t so, Roldy! Is no one safe? With Craig Kimbrel (1.0 IP, 1 hit, 2 BB, 1 ER) notching his fourth blown save I should think not. Anthony Rendon hit a game-tying HR (11) off Craig, the first homer Kimbrel has surrendered all season. Are you getting scared yet? Was there a full moon last night or something? How about Greg Holland (1.0 IP, 3 hits, 2 BB, 2 ER) taking his second loss. This one was tied when he entered but stillz. By this time in the night when I saw Kenley Jansen (0.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 hits) enter the game with one run lead, I knew it could only end poorly. Escape while you can, Kenley! Fake a stomach cramp or something! He was handed his third blown save of the year. Sure, I’m ignoring all the closers who did manage to notch saves last night, but that’s not the point. It was a tough night to be a closer, but an even tougher night to own one in fantasy baseball. I feel your pain, all.

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball Friday night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, there was a pitching performance that truly captured the minds and hearts of the general public. You know, the general public — the people you smile at on the street and wonder how they got their shirt on because they look so dumb. Those people! This pitching performance wasn’t done by just any average pitcher. No, it was done by…an outfielder. Travis Snider struck out Joey Votto! Whaaaaaaat?! Oh, and Clayton Kershaw threw a no-hitter. It should’ve been a perfect game, but Hanley didn’t feel like it. It’s okay, Hanley, don’t beat yourself up over it too much. Let Dodger fans do it for you! Kershaw’s game wasn’t perfect in the strictly record book sense, but it was in the fantasy sense. 15 Ks, no hits, no walks — you now have the best pitching performance of this year, and it might be a top ten fantasy start of all-time. I wonder if you could buy him low. I keed! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Royals are Daddy Rich from Car Wash or Max Scherzer owed Verlander a favor. “Hey, Scherzer, do me a solid and do a solid on the mound so my Monday start doesn’t look so bad. You feel me? If you do, I got a Ms. Upton to feel you.” Little did Scherzer know that Verlander wasn’t talking about Kate Upton, but about Justin and B.J.’s sister, Misshapen. “Misshapen, your legs are so curvaceous they remind me of the coastline of Africa.” Or maybe Verlander is just spreading something around the clubhouse. Anibal, you better not touch him or I will know it! Scherzer only lost once all of last year at home, which is slightly misleading like I’m saying he is that much better at home. He only lost twice on the road last year and his ERA on the road was almost a run and half lower. Yesterday, it all went to pot — Lincecum, “That’s where I want to go!” — as Scherzer gave up 10 runs in four innings. Leyland was right. Pitchers are like barbecuing pork. You need a lot of indirect smoke to tender up their shoulder and get ‘em right. If this allows a buying opportunity on Scherzer, unlike Verlander, I do think this was a hiccup rather than a long, extended burp. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Before I tell you what Prospect Scott said, I wanna just say a quick thing about rookies, pitchers specifically. They’re all over the map for value like George Clooney in Up In The Air (that’s a reference for our four girl readers; you think a man with a mustache forgets the ladies? Photocopy my face, take it to Kinko’s, have it made into a pillowcase, rest your head on it; that’s the most comfortable pillow you will ever have, and the sexiest. That pillow is like Clubber Lang yelling into your ear about a ‘real man.’). Taijuan Walker is the top pitching prospect in baseball, according to MLB. Can’t miss, K-Swiss! Doode’s got talent for days. He also is struggling to get out of the minors. Eddie Butler was dazzling in the minors; came up and got done. Andrew Heaney could come up and be Jose Fernandez circa 2013, or he could be Trevor Bauer circa every year. Eventually, Heaney will be great, like most heralded pitchers, but that doesn’t mean it will happen right away. I would, of course, own him because if he is good, he’s going to be better than any other waiver wire pitcher. Now, about Heaney specifically, here’s Prosp. Scott, “An excellent fastball-slider combo and plus command helped Heaney to an impressive 2013 line: 1.60/1.07/89 in 95 IP between High-A and Double-A. That performance has lifted him into the 2014 fantasy spotlight and earned him the #23 spot on my top 25 for 2014. I suspect he’ll get a shot in Miami before long. Speaking of guys, I’d like to shoot…Where’s that feathered hair freak, Albright?” Geez, the hostility! Heaney’s been terrific this year in the minors (2.74 ERA, 10+ K-rate, sub-1 walk rate!) and I imagine he’ll be up within the next two weeks. Now is the time to grab him. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Carlos Santana went 0-for-5 with 1 RBI. He could’ve hit six homers yesterday and still only had one RBI, because the guy in front of him said to the media, “By the power vested in me in the state of Cleveland — is this a state? — I now pronounce myself Lonnie Gonnie. I will now release an album that will be critically drubbed, but the masses will enjoy it called, ‘Lonnie Went Gonnie.’ Then the straight-to-DVD movies I star in will be reprisals of the Ernest movies, but with Lonnie in the title. For example, ‘Lonnie Goes To Africa’ or ‘Lonnie Goes to Jail.’ Is there any questions for Lonnie Gonnie? No? Good, because I got homers to hit and ribbies to eat and average to drive up the wazoo like I’m a wazoo driving machine.” Yesterday, Lonnie Chisenhall went H.A.M then damn, then come again, ma’am. Three homers (5, 6, 7), nine RBIs, and raised his average up to .385 while going 5-for-5. That’s a career .265 hitter. Zoinks! He’s probably going to remember who he really is at some point soon, but ride the lightning while Lonnie’s rocking out. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Years ago, the movie industry left Mickey Rourke for dead. He couldn’t get a job with anyone. His face looked like pot-holed road that a Doberman took a dump on. His attitude was more disagreeable than Jack’s white supremacist gang from Breaking Bad. The rumors were he gave up acting prior to his last few movies and what you saw in those last few was simply a cardboard cut-out of Rourke that he bought in Chinatown in the 80′s. When Darren Aronofsky found Rourke for The Wrestler, Rourke was ice fishing in a tenement in West Virginia. The ice was methamphetamine and he’d toss a fishing line out a 4-story window and try to fish it out of a drug dealer’s hidden stash. Then The Wrestler happened and he acted well enough to distract from his face. Suddenly, the contracts started streaming in and Rourke was hot again. Then a funny thing happened. He brushed off the cardboard cut-out for his next few movies and started calling Marisa Tomei at four in the morning to see if she wanted to go get waffles and blow him. In the life cycle of Mickey Rourke, Nelson Cruz is now receiving acclaim for his performance in The Wrestler. At 33 years old, it is possible Cruz could have a career year, but he is 12 homers from his career high. What does he get the rest of the year? 15 homers? Maybe. That means you already got the bulk of his stats and it’s barely June. He’s also a .270 hitter that is currently hitting .313, so what does he do the rest of the year? 15 homers and a .260 average? That’s Khris Davis. If you have someone in your league with visions of Diner and Rumble Fish, I’d absolutely explore offers selling Nelson Cruz. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

You make plans, and the Fantasy Baseball Overlord laughs. I believe that is how the saying goes. Yesterday, Carlos Gonzalez succumbed to his time-honored tradition of hitting the DL. This time it was due to his finger inflammation. I wonder if his finger plumped up like a Ballpark Frank. By the by, you know the secret ingredient that is used for Ballpark Franks to plump up when you cook them, why is that not used in other foods? This seems to be the cure for world hunger. Inject everything and ship it to Africa. “Nice pancake, colonizer, but can you plump it up?” Yes, we can now little African kid! On his trips to Africa, why is Bono not armed with Ballpark Franks? We need some sodium nitrate up in here! On the bright side of things, Corey Dickerson is now definitely going to get everyday looks for at least the next two weeks and I’d guess it’ll be more like three to four weeks. Grab Dickerson! Whew, glad his name isn’t Dick, er, son. On a side note, “precious cargo” is the stupidest Urban Dictionary definition I’ve ever seen. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Wil Myers was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his hand. Experts are saying, “Guess you shouldn’t have drafted him!” Those are experts in schadenfreude. Other experts are saying he should’ve been wearing iron gloves called járngreipr. But those experts are in Norse mythology. Then there’s experts that say when he was injured he should’ve been going for a Chocolate Silk Pie Blizzard, but those are experts in Dairy Queen. Are there any experts on injuries that weighed in?! Oh, here’s one that says he’ll have his cast removed in about 6 weeks and could return in August. Ugh. I think I need a Blizzard. In shallower leagues where DL spots are already filled, I could see dropping him. In one 15-team league, I’m holding him, but Taijuan Walker is about to come off the DL, so I have room. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?