It’s mid August, which means it’s football season for everyone except those still in contention in baseball leagues (and those gracious, absurd souls that maintain high effort levels on out-of-it teams). The author of this piece confesses that he, in fact, is not one of them. Of the three leagues for which I drafted teams, only one –the one I’m currently in first– commands my honest attention.

But lemme tell ya, I really want to win that one league. Real bad. And I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you are in a similar spot in your league and can Relate. If we call Level 1 “Showing up to the draft” and Level 2 “Replacing injured players”, then I’m operating on like a Level 13 level right now. That means doing all the little things right like making sure I’m taking advantage of platoon splits, dropping fringe guys with unfavorable upcoming matchups (sorry Grady), and starting a guy in every spot on every night, every day of the week. That last part is what this column is all about, so let’s take a look at some of the lesser-owned hitters at our disposal this Thursday.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In the past, I’ve gone out of my way to focus more on rookie hitters than pitchers, but after last year and living through season-after-season of diminishing offense, this is the world we live in. Before you blame anyone, look in the mirror. What do you see? Besides, the blackheads. You see someone that supported baseball ridding itself of PEDs. So, this is what we have. Pitching up the wazoo. I still contend it should be ‘out the wazoo’ and not ‘up the wazoo,’ but I’m playing by your rules now. I’m no longer sticking it to the man and going up the wazoo. Hmm, that sounded wrong, but never the hoo! Kevin Gausman just barely maintained rookie eligibility by only pitching 47 2/3 IP last year. Really showing a thing or two about not knowing what was coming or going either by having a 5.66 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. It really means nothing. First of all, his xFIP was 3.04, so his ERA shouldn’t have even been that bad. Second of all, he had a 9+ K-rate, which is right in line what you can expect. Third of all, there is no third of all. Why would you think there was a third of all? Gausman isn’t a 5+ ERA pitcher. He could be the best rookie pitcher this year. He has that kind of stuff. With the O’s, you gotta mind your P’s and Q’s. Excuse me, I had Alphabet Soup for lunch and just burped. What I mean is the O’s aren’t in the best division for nurturing along a young starter. You have to be on the top of your game in the AL East. Gausman has the stuff to tame the big offenses. As I’ve tried to beat into your head, a pitcher with great control and strikeout stuff is worth your attention. Gausman is that type of pitcher. The only real question is do the O’s stay with him in the rotation. If today’s game vs. the Tigers is a spot start and back to the minors, it’s not great. Opportunity + Stuff = Fudgie the Whale. Wow, my math is off there. It should’ve equaled “worth a flyer in all fantasy leagues to see if he stays in the rotation.” To give you an idea of this guy’s upside, in Prospect Scott’s top 25 fantasy baseball prospects, the top five are Tanaka, Abreu, Bogaerts, Taijuan and then Gausman. That’s elite company. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

On this day, I’m reminded of the Imagine Dragons song, Demons. “It’s Prince Fielder‘s curtain’s call, it’s the last of all, when the lights fade out all the other players look like an upgrade. They look like an upgrade! Prince Fielder let us down! He should be hell bound! Though he says it’s all for you, stop hiding the truth! No matter what Cecil Fielder would breed. We are still made of greed, my fantasy team is my kingdom come, when will Prince Fielder’s homers come? When will they come?! When you feel my heat, look into my eyes, it’s where my hate for Fielder hides, it’s where my hate hides. Abreu, don’t get too close, it’s dark inside and Fielder might rub off on you. It’s where my hate for Fielder hides, it’s where my hate hides. They say it’s okay if he hits .280 with 85 RBIs and 20 homers around the pole that is foul. I say it’s up to fate, it’s woven in my soul, Prince Fielder is an a**hole!” Usually I’m like don’t sell so-and-so for a DVD box set of the third season of Punky Brewster, but I’d sell Fielder low. Who knows maybe someone in your league won’t think you’re selling low. I’d explore ALL (yes, capped) offers for him immediately before things get worse. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Fredo is a disgrace. That’s Fredo Gonzalez. He’s running around yapping his mouth about my fantasy team’s business, saying Alex Wood can go to the bullpen and Gavin Floyd can stay in the rotation. Why don’t you defend Moe Green while you’re at it, Fredo? I’m sorry, I’m about to have an aneurysm. Fredo said he doesn’t want to go to a six-man rotation, saying, “(Floyd) is one guy that would not go to the bullpen… We all know how the bullpen thing is. You get up. You get down. You go in. You got to warm up in 15 (pitches), and I don’t want to do that to (Floyd).” No, instead you’ll do it to one of your best, young arms. Jonny Venters just asked an elderly man behind him in line at the bank to sign his check for him because he can’t lift his arm! I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart! Well, I haven’t heard anything official yet, but it sounds like Wood is headed to the bullpen so Floyd can start. Super. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This should go down easier than Danny Salazar‘s last start, but it’s still not going to be that easy to digest. You have a Tums handy? Good, take like seven of them. Don’t worry, if they give you kidney stones, it will take your mind off of K-Zar. Something is wrong. I hypothesized that he was tipping his pitches last time. It didn’t make sense that he would strikeout more guys in four innings than anyone has ever while still getting rocked. Maybe he is, I still have no idea. I don’t have my degree from the University of Pitch Scouting, which is still in a heated lawsuit with the United Parcel Service. You should sign the online petition for the United Parcel Service to change to the acronym NBU for Nice Brown Uniforms. If an online petition can’t get something changed, what can? Member when people actually protested things and not just clicked a box on an online petition site? Those in-person protestors were silly! Any the hoo! A larger problem with K-Zar is his velocity is down. Still decent for most mortals, but he could be hiding a larger issue with his arm. The other day when he K’d ten guys in four innings, it might’ve masked a bigger problem. Yesterday’s start was a real eye-opener — 4 2/3 IP, 5 ER and only 3 Ks — is terrible. That’s not tipping pitches, that’s something is wrong. The final ruling on K-Zar is you should hold him if you can, but I don’t think the short-term is going to be pretty. Obviously, you can’t start him next time out or until he throws a decent start. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Ryan Braun hit his first two home runs off Kyle Kendrick — you know, that Kendrick sure sticks out for a sore thumb — and then Braun emancipated a third ball off Lincoln. Three homers a mere two days after saying he was not able to swing normally is quite the 180. It’s like when Mickey Rourke is one of the best actors — in movies like Diner and Angel Heart — only to have a string of flops, terrible plastic surgery and then he reemerges in The Wrestler. Or Travolta’s career is in the toilet after Saturday Night Fever, dealing with whispers about his bedroom predilections and then he does Pulp Fiction. Doing The McConaughey while McConaughey was still ruining his career. A few years later, Mickey Rourke has another string of flops and his face still scares small children; Travolta does Battlefield Earth and now whispers about his religion have joined the other whispers. (Be forewarned, McConaughey.) So, will Braun now reemerge as the top hitter in the game and hold his Pulp Fiction/Wrestler renaissance or will his thumb continue to haunt him while he commits to Wild Hogs II: Where The Wild Hogs Are? All I know is he was complaining about his thumb a full nine months after he first hurt it, so it doesn’t seem likely to disappear that fast. His value may be even higher now, but I’d still be concerned. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Here’s me yesterday looking to pick up the new Yankee closer…. *types Kelly into waivers box, presses Enter* Inner monologue, “Joe Kelly?! No, I don’t want him! Casey Kelly?! Blech! C’mon, this is a 15 team mixed league, I’m not in an NL-Only keeper! Someone beat me to the waiver wire? Really? For the first time in three years, I’m watching a Yankees game because nothing else is on and serendipitously David Robertson is announced with a groin strain, so there’s no way anyone beat me to the waiver wire… I’m here first, I have to be! So where’s Kelly?! Fine, I’ll click the button that shows the players that are owned too. Wait, he’s not even listed there. What in the holy name of Christ Colabello–” And that was around the time I realized his name was spelled Kelley, not Kelly and while I was misspelling it someone else swooped in and grabbed him. This has been the latest installment of Grey Albright: Are You Sure You Want To Listen To This Man? So, Robertson is out for a few weeks with a groin strain — easy on the noodes, doode! — and Shawn Kelley is your new closer in New York, and, even though yesterday was Kelley’s first career save, it doesn’t mean he can’t be successful for the next three weeks. Or unsuccessful, but I’d pick him up either way in any league. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This is the year of the pitcher, it’s so deep that people are even naming their kids deep. But that doesn’t mean you need to wait til the end of your draft to fill out your staff. It means don’t waste your top-3 picks on arms and be wise when you grab a pitcher because you might be able to take a bat and then get a pitcher the next round that is on the same tier as the guy you passed on. I drafted with the writers the other day and wow, that turned out to be one big hangover with a side of blurred vision the next day. I still have no idea how I got this cut on my head.  Two things I learned, don’t drink and draft because you might end up with Michael Saunders in your OF and taketh what the draft giveth’s. Yes, I said it, plans are nice, but don’t miss a great opportunity when something beautiful appears and the guy you had penciled in at that round is also on the board. I don’t mind a few stretches here and there but don’t make it a habit. I’m a best player available drafter, I like to punt the middle infield positions and Catchers can go hang out with kickers on the football side of the site… except you Wilin Rosario, you can come sit next to Big Papa. Here is my all Late-Round Flyer Team, LRFT for short. It’s comprised of guys I like and people that Grey and other Razzball writers like. I’m here to serve them and fill their coffee and weird requests. Sky likes his green skittles separated into a wooden bowl, Guru makes me starch his turbans and JayWrong makes me tag everything that belongs to Nick at the Razzquarters… Best Internship Ever! Here are the guidelines, this is written for the default ESPN style format and the players have to be less than 20% owned and drafted after the 20th round, yup that’s it.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Japhet Amador is a giant man, standing at 6-foot-4, weighing in at 315 pounds. In the Mexican League, where he’s played for the last four years, they called him El Gran Burrito. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto once remarked that Amador is welcome at the Presidential Palace anytime, as long as Amador brings his own snacks. When Jose Altuve heard the Astros signed Amador, Altuve was thrilled. No more walking around for Altuve; Amador will just carry him around in a baby bjorn. I watched video of Amador and I’ve never seen such a slow bat through the zone. He looks like a Mexican Meat Loaf in a celebrity softball game. I swear, Amador stopped to eat one of those spicy dried mango candies halfway through his swing. His power is huge, but I’m not sure he’d gonna be able to catch up to anything. Last year in the Mexican League, he hit 36 homers and he’s 27 years old. The Mexican League is supposedly comparable to Triple-A, only instead of buses for transportation, the teams pile into a Toyota Tercel. Right now, he looks pegged for Triple-A, but since the Astros have Robbie Grossman, Marc Krauss, Jesus Guzman and J.D. Martinez vying for everyday ABs, anything could happen. I’d take a flyer on Amador in AL-Only leagues, and wait and see in mixed leagues. Best case scenario, he gets the DH job and hits 25+ homers and .220. The worst case scenario, you draft Altuve and Amador accidentally sits on him. Anyway, here’s what else I saw recently in spring training for 2014 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?