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Greetings, fantasy baseball friends.  Jersey Joe, a new columnist, here with the low-down on the AL starters who will climb the hill twice this week (Monday-Sunday).  Always remember that predicting pitching performance is like predicting the weather, but that said, here are my thoughts for the week…

RANKINGS

1.  Zack Greinke (KC) – CHW (Colon), @LAA (Loux)
My $.02:  He’s the AL shizz right now at the SP spot, no doubt.  Don’t need to check any matchups, opponent OPS, etc.  Start him until further notice.

2.  Felix Hernandez (SEA) – TEX (Millwood), @MIN (Liriano)
My $.02:  The King is claiming his throne.  4-0, more than a K per IP, and a manageable walk rate.  Like the Zack Attack, start him until further notice.

3.  Erik Bedard (SEA) – TEX (Padilla), @MIN (Blackburn)
My $.02:  Interestingly enough, Bedard’s getting his act together in a free-agent season.  Coincidence?  I think not.  No offense, but this guy’s not a ballplayer – he’s a Canadian fur-trapper trapped in pitcher’s body.  I am fairly confident he doesn’t like baseball most of the time.  But he likes it this year, because if he throws well enough, he can convince the Pinstripes or some other team to hand him $53.3 M for 4 years – yup, enough money to build a start-up fur-trapping business into a Canadian conglomerate.  This week, he gets a Hamilton-less Rangers O-ffence (sticking with the Canadian theme) in Safeco, and then the Mariners visit the Twinkies.  Roll with him.  Especially in Canada.

4.  Jon Lester (BOS) — Mon-@NYY (Chamberlain), Sat-TB (Kazmir)
My $.02:  Let’s play good news/bad news.  Bad news: He’s starting in the JetStream and the Yanks’ OPS vs. LHP is 993(!).  Good news: He’s pitched extremely well against both the Pinstripers and the Rays in his (short) career.  More good news: he beat cancer!  If he’s on your team, go get yourself one of those Live Strong yellow bracelets, start him this week, and enjoy life.

5.  Matt Garza (TB) — Tue-BAL (Uehara), Sun-@BOS (Beckett)
My $.02:  Like most TB starters, Garza is a straight-up homeboy… Yup, he likes pitching in the dome he calls home.  Plus, his career numbers versus the boys from Charm City are fantastic.  So his first start looks great.  Start #2 vs. the Sawx?  Yeah, he’s thrown well against them in the past, but I’d like this a lot more if the game was down by the bay (where the watermelons grow…sing it, moms and dads!).  With Beckett’s struggles, though, Garza looks a bit better.  A solid start in most leagues.

6.  Scott Kazmir (TB) — Mon-BAL (Eaton), Sat-@BOS (Lester)
My $.02:  Kaz’s been Forrest’s box of chocolates this season – Joe Maddon and fantasy owners are scratching their heads over his inconsistency.  I really like Start #1: Baltimore’s OPS vs. LHP is 10th in AL, Adam Eaton isn’t, umm, good, and Kaz feasts at home like his rotation brothers.  At Boston against Jon Lester, of course, gives me pause, but the vaunted BOS lineup has struggled vs. LHP in ’09 (OPS: 9th in AL).  I’m feeling two nice ones from Scotty this week.

7.  Edwin Jackson (DET) — Mon-MIN (Liriano), Sat-@CLE (Reyes)
My $.02:  Love him this week.  Whatever leagues you play, you should start Edwin and enjoy the bounty a-comin’.  He’s pitched extremely well this season despite a dip in his K/9, and the breakout is quietly happening.  Minny’s got Mauer back, but the aside from Morneau-Mauer-Kubel, there’s not much there.  His opposing starters?  Well, Liriano’s not himself, and Anthony Reyes is thisclose to getting sent down – if the Indians had some healthy/good options, he’d be gone already.  Don’t leave Eddy on the bench this week, my friends.  Please.

8.  Joba Chamberlain (NYY) — Mon-BOS (Lester), Sat-@BAL (Eaton)
My $.02:  Ahh, Joba.  The hype machine (not the blogosphere – let’s get that straight) is disappointed you’re not throwing 97 mph anymore.  Me?  I’m not as demanding – 93 mph is fine by me, friend.  Just watch the walks (13 BB in 23.1 IP) – you can’t rely on the Yanks’ infield D to keep bailing you out with double plays, unless Mark Teixiera can play all 4 spots at the same time (which, incidentally, he should be able to do, for all that dough he’s getting).  Not crazy about his start against the Sawx, who are patient enough to wait pitchers out and then pounce. (That’s essentially what happened in his start vs. BOS last week.)  But with Papi’s struggles and Francona’s insistence on letting him work through them in the heart of the order, I’m less concerned.  He can handle the O’s top-heavy lineup in Start #2, and with Adam Eaton on the other end, he should have run support (over/under NYY runs: 7?).  Take a shot with Joba this week.

9.  Francisco Liriano (MIN) — Mon-@DET (Jackson), Sat-SEA (Hernandez)
My $.02:  Picture this – A sunny day in Fantasy Land.  All is not well, however.  Cries ring in the streets, as I call out in desperation for a familiar name.  “2006 Francisco Liriano?  Where are you?  2006 Francisco Liriano?  Come on home, please!  Where are you?”  “I’m sorry, Jersey Joe.  We found him, but he’s lost an arm.”  “Which one?” I ask, hoping for the best.  “The one with the devastating slider and fastball, I’m afraid.”   This week: A righty-heavy DET lineup at Comerica (4th in AL OPS vs. LHP) and then the punch less M’s at home (though he opposes King Felix).  Classic “one good start, one bad start” situation.  I’d probably start him in most leagues, but don’t expect 2006 again.  Like, ever.

10.  Josh Beckett (BOS) — Tue-@NYY (Burnett), Sun-TB (Garza)
My $.02:  2009 hasn’t been kind to Josh.  36 H in 28.2 IP…not so good.  But what really gives me the willies about him?  16 BB in those same 28.2 IP.  He walked 34 last season… in 174.1 IP.  Yikes.  This week, he slings the hardball in the JetStream (New Yankee Stadium) against a rejuvenated Yankee offense before heading home to face Garza and the Rays.  Another pertinent note about Beckett – his ERA at Fenway the last 3 years: 5.65, 4.17, 4.84.  So what am I saying?  You probably can’t bench him, but he doesn’t look poised for much success this week

11.  Brett Anderson (OAK) — Mon-LAA (Loux), Sat-TOR (Tallet)
My $.02:  He’s a nice young SP who has thrown much better than his numbers attest, and he’s at home in the cavernous Oakland Mausoleum (where hitters go to die… just ask Matt Holliday!) for both starts.  Plus, his opposing starters stink.  On the flip side – the Toronto offense is raking these days, and LAA can dink and dunk their way to keeping it close.  But I’m feeling B.A. this week, so if you trust a random fantasy blogger you’ve never met, take a chance on Brett (and me) and start him.  ***Injury note: Anderson is dealing with a blister, but it apparently shouldn’t be a problem.  Just be careful here

12.  A.J. Burnett (NYY) — Tue-BOS (Beckett), Sun-@BAL (Uehara)
My $.02:  Look, the guy’s got nipple rings.  That, to me, says “No Fear”.  I mean, my nipples chafe when I wear a tight t-shirt, and I consider that painful enough to take a sick day.  So, we know he’s not intimidated by the mighty Sawx hitters, and the numbers bear that out, as he’s traditionally pitched well against them (at least until he was bombed by them this season).  But something’s not quite right with A.J. this season.  Adjusting to a new team?  New piercings in sensitive places?  Vandalizing school property?  Blowing up a car?  Whatever the reason, Tony and Carmella would ground him – should you?  Well, with BOS at home, and then a second start against the O’s, a team he’s struggled against in his career, I’m not very confident.  If you do start him, you might receive a fantasy purple nurple from the Nipple King.  Be prepared

13.  Kyle Davies (KC) — Tue-CHW (Floyd), Sun-@LAA (Ortega)
My $.02:  Yeah, he’s basically become a usable starter in AL Only and deep mixed leagues, as scary as that sounds.  This week, two so-so offenses challenge Kyle’s trip up the AL Starter ranks.  The White Sox don’t hit RHP well and fare much better at home, and while the Angels of LA can bleed a pitcher to death with Mike Scioscia’s version of small ball, I’m just not afraid of that lineup without Bad Vlad.  Borderline, but I’d probably start him in AL Only leagues

14.  Kevin Millwood (TEX) — Mon-@SEA (Hernandez), Sat-@CHW (Colon)
My $.02:  Believe it or not, he’s a decent option this week.  The mighty (lucky, so far) M’s sport an OPS vs. RHP under .700 (which puts them next to last in the AL in that category), and Ozzie’s boys are just one spot better.  If you need him, use him

15.  Dallas Braden (OAK) — Tue-LAA (Ortega), Sun-TOR (Cecil)
My $.02:  Every year, there’s a few SP that come out of nowhere and give you stats for a stretch.  Braden’s been one of those guys this season.  Yeah, there’s some talent here, but its not clear how much.  Regardless, with both starts in Oakland, I think you should roll the dice, as the Angels don’t hit lefties much and the Jays are starting a rookie (Brett Cecil) who clearly isn’t read for prime time against Braden in Start #2

16.  Gavin Floyd (CHW) — Tue-@KC (Davies), Sun-TEX (Padilla)
My $.02:  I was more bullish on this guy than most, because: 1) he was a 1st round pick and has some talent; and, 2) he had a lights-out spring training.  Now, I know what you’re thinking: spring training doesn’t matter.  Hold on, I say; for a young guy trying to consolidate his skill development, I think it does.  Unfortunately, Gavin’s struggled in the early going and I don’t have a clear sense of what to expect.  KC stinks against righties, and TEX doesn’t hit well away from Arlington…but again, this one’s a crapshoot.  I’d probably sit him this early in the season for a safer option

17.  Rick Porcello (DET) — Tue-MIN (Blackburn), Sun-@CLE (Carmona)
My $.02:  Not a terrible slate this week for the young star.  His problem seems to be command; he loses his stuff after a few innings, and once he falls behind, he can’t seem to figure out how to work his way out of it.  Until he strings together a few solid starts, I’d bench him except in deep AL Only leagues.  But he is coming, folks.  Be patient

18.  Nick Blackburn (MIN) — Tue-@DET (Porcello), Sun-SEA (Bedard)
My $.02:  Are you chasing wins?  Because there’s no other reason to have this guy in your lineup otherwise.  His ERA might be passable, but he doesn’t K anyone and his WHIP won’t help you any.  Not the worst matchups in the world, I guess, as the Tigers and Mariners don’t exactly hammer righties, so if he’s on your roster, you can use him.  Just know what you’re getting – a shot at two wins.  Nothing more, and possibly, a lot less (meaning damage to your ERA and WHIP could hurt you.  To me, the down outweighs the up, but it’s your team, right?

19.  Bartolo Colon (CHW) — Mon-@KC (Greinke), Sat-TEX (Millwood)
My $.02:  Don’t call it a comeback!  Yes, the Chubby One (and look at that hair!) has returned, but that doesn’t mean you need to get on the bus.  Because if you did, it would likely tip over.  Or, he’d try to eat you.  Do you want that?  I didn’t think so.

20.  Koji Uehara (BAL) — Tue-@TB (Garza), Sun-NYY (Burnett)
My $.02:  I don’t speak Japanese, but if I could, I’d draw/write characters that translate into the following description for Koji’s chances this week: a major typhoon and Godzilla crushing Tokyo – at the same time.  Look, could he surprise me?  Sure.  But I just don’t think his stuff (caution: ScoutSpeak) is good enough to handle AL East lineups.  I’m issuing a hold on Koji for this week.  Wait for the right matchups with this guy, or you shall suffer the consequences

21.  Fausto Carmona (CLE) — Tue-@TOR (Cecil), Sun-DET (Porcello)
My $.02:  It seemed like just yesterday that Fausto was licking those green midges off his lips like some leftover poppy seeds from a toasty bagel, mowing down Yankee hitters while Joe Torre slept, err, sat stone-faced on the bench.  Fast-forward to 2009, and it appears that he’s become one of those midges on the mound.  If you like pain, I invite you to allow Fausto to throw home run balls for you to the Toronto Bomb Jays and the Detroit Tigers this week.  Otherwise, please bench him

22.  Anthony Reyes (CLE) — Mon-@TOR (Tallet), Sat-DET (Jackson)
My $.02:  Don’t start him.  Under any circumstances.

23.  Brian Tallet (TOR) — Mon-CLE (Reyes), Sat-@OAK (Anderson)
My $.02:  Nope.

  1. Chase says:
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    welcome jersey joe

  2. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    wow,didnt know beckets walk rate this year to last,glad i dont own him,counting on jaba to cut his walks down also

  3. Steve says:
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    @AL KOHOLIC: And I bet you don’t feel sorry for the guy who does…

  4. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @Steve: yeah,look at my pitching stats in our yahoo league,hell becket would be 1 of my better sp`s,but those 6 steals from crawford were saweeet in both leagues

  5. Nick says:
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    You still gotta start Beckett over Bedard this week though right? I also have Peavy, Bills & Danks starting for the week with Jenks, Franklin & Hoffman closing while on the bench next to Bedard is Slowey Wainwright & Downs

  6. Steve says:
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    @AL KOHOLIC: My $5 Johnny Cueto is helping to ease the pain however.

  7. Nick says:
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    Ohhh & by the way my opponent does not have one closer pitching (He has Morrow who is out) so he has Shields Kershaw Chamberlain Cain Young & Price pitching….does my lineup change with this opponents lineue???? THANKS

  8. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @Steve: yeah you made a big jump the last few days,do you need a closer?i got an extra 1,you watching the oakland game?they both scored 3 in the 13th,going to 14

  9. Jim says:
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    Thanks, wish you would do this every week. Are you going to do the NL too?

  10. BigFatHippo says:
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    @AL KOHOLIC: @Steve: My pitchers are just hanging around………….

  11. Steve says:
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    @AL KOHOLIC: We have the Sunday night ESPN game here – Rangers v White Sox. Keeping any eye on the other game. I have Branyan subbing for A-Ram in my H2H league. Luckily I’ve had a good week so his 0-6 (!) is not hurting too much.

    Who’s your extra closer?

  12. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @Steve: the 1 and only,chris ray,grey says sherrill is out ray is in

  13. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @BigFatHippo: @Steve: man am i glad i traded davis and his 36 k`s in 77 ab`s this year to kerry,k`s kill you in that format

  14. I'm Keith Hernandez says:
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    Liriano, what should we expect the rest of the year?

  15. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Jersey Joe

    Hope Marciano didn’t hurt you too bad, keep up the good work.

  16. BigFatHippo says:
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    @AL KOHOLIC: You’re tellin me?

    I punted em weeks ago.

  17. BigFatHippo says:
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    This just in…………….

    Elvis Andrus is fast!

  18. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @BigFatHippo: but your hr`s and rbi`s are beating me.your loaded with power

  19. BigFatHippo says:
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    @AL KOHOLIC: Not as much as Jersey Joe Wallcott!

  20. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @BigFatHippo: i hear ya bro

  21. Steve says:
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    I don’t think this is a day Matt Holliday will remember with any great fondness.

  22. Pops says:
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    I like the weekend celebrity bloggers. Would like to hear about NL two – start pitchers, as I have Gallardo and Wainwright this week. I’d imagine that they are both top five in the weekly rankings.

  23. BigFatHippo says:
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    @I’m Keith Hernandez: Expect him to be a top ten AL pitcher, just not 2006 Frankie Liriano, man I miss that guy…………

  24. Dumbmutt says:
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    Yeah hopefully NL coming next. Not sure J.Johnson or Wainwright for next week.

  25. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Steve: Wow, 0/7……….

    That’s Beltre-ish! Glad none of us bought him, we must have had help from somebody.

  26. Jersey Joe

    Jersey Joe says:
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    @Chase: Thanks.

    @AL KOHOLIC: (RE: Beckett’s BB rate) – Beckett’s command’s been all over. Definite cause for concern. Could be early season stuff, but…

    @Nick: If you’re H2H and your opponent has 0 CL, I’d start 2 CL – pull Hoffman and get Bedard in there in his place. But as my ranks show, I’d start Bedard over Beckett this week if I had to make the choice.

    @Jim: Thanks… yeah, both leagues covered next week.

    @I’m Keith Hernandez: I’m not bullish on Liriano as my post indicates. I think he still slots in the above-avg. group of starters, but nowhere near the elite or even the main group after that (guys like James Shields).

    @BigFatHippo: Thanks…

    @Grey & Rudy: Last, but certainly not least, thanks to you guys for this great site…

  27. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @BigFatHippo: dont you have him?

  28. BigFatHippo says:
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    @BigFatHippo: Yeah, I won the Beltre sweepstakes, but we were talking about Holliday. Grey warned us away.

    Just like to get in a dig about Beltre every chance I get, he’s like that annoying little ADD kid that won’t shut up and ya can’t smack him. All you can do is pick up Blalock and bench him.

  29. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @BigFatHippo: im hoping aramis back monday ,then hamitongetsbackhealthy

  30. Steve says:
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    @BigFatHippo: At this rate, Blalock will find himself being benched.

  31. Nick says:
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    @Grey: You still gotta start Beckett over Bedard this week though right? I also have Peavy, Bills & Danks starting for the week with Jenks, Franklin & Hoffman closing while on the bench next to Bedard is Slowey Wainwright & Downs.

    My opponent does not have one closer pitching (He has Morrow who is out) so he has Shields Kershaw Chamberlain Cain Young & Price pitching….this probably changes who I should start…going with maybe another starter, say Bedard over Hoffman?

  32. Nick says:
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    sorry to repeat but forgot to direct that at Grey

  33. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @Steve: typing left handed in the dark is hard

  34. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Nick: I’d start Bedard and Wainwright, if your opponent has no closers. Then start Jenks.

  35. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    run nelson run,thats 3 so far,or 1 less than reyes

  36. BigFatHippo says:
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    @Grey: Frost/Nixon was excellent, Danks sux.

  37. yoshinorimike says:
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    thoughts: use a waiver claim to drop Baker for Soto?

    I’m more in need of avg than power.

  38. Steve says:
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    @yoshinorimike: Probably worth a try. I have Soto (a bunch of Cardinal fans suckered me in to paying a ridiculous price for him) and it looks as though he MAY be starting to get going. That is, he’s not going oh-fer every single day…

  39. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @Steve: hippo did that.v mart here,didnt expect this start but loving it. And Albert for $61=priceless

  40. Hardcore Midget says:
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    Nolasco was just dropped in my league. Do I burn a #1 waiver to claim him? And if so, who do I drop- Randy Wolf, Manny Parra, Rafael Soriano, Justin Masterson or Kyle Lohse?

    My SP isn’t so hot- on top of the guys listed above I also have Liriano, Scott Baker, Matt Cain, Ian Snell, and Lackey.

  41. I'm Keith Hernandez says:
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    Now its I give Davis/Peavy for Longoria/Hanson ( I have plenty of pitching so I can wait on Hanson) Good move?

  42. yoshinorimike says:
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    @Grey: What do you think of dropping LaTroy Hawkins (I have Valverde on the DL) instead?

    [I have Broxton, Franklin and Downs too.]

  43. Harley says:
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    @Grey: Use Cecil (2 start pitcher) this week? vs. Cle & @ Oak? Cleveland mashes lefties but I have to think he holds some advantage first time through the league. Also, Oakland’s offense blows.

  44. RB says:
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    Here a question… Im getting ready to trade Kemp and a pitcher for Adam Dunn and Cole Hamels.

    Question is which pitcher? AJ Burnett or Liriano?

    I cant decide, but leaning Liriano.

  45. I'm Keith Hernandez says:
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    @Grey: I was turned down for Wright and Mcab, what about Davis for Aramis straight up?

  46. dtv says:
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    i’m looking for steals… looking to trade ziegler for fowler/bourn/figgins/morgan/taveras/spilborghs? who do you like here? who don’t you like? who do you think will get the most sb?

  47. ep says:
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    Welcome Jersey Joe.
    Great column: Solid info and enjoyable reading. That’s what to expect from Razzball’s scribes.

  48. Cheeeeeeeeeeeze says:
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    I’ve been working on a trade for awhile and by giving up Halladay, Tulowitz, and Peavy I can get Sizemore Kazmir and either J-Roll or Billingsley. Who should I take? I can still get Jason Bartlett as my SS if I take Billingsley

  49. Steve says:
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    Morneau and Lind for Howard – you’d want Howard, right? I already have Ibanez at LF and Votto.

  50. Cheeeeeeeeeeeze says:
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    Oh, and props on the column as well. I’m working on a team by team fantasy playoff analysis that will hopefully get posted in the future

  51. ep says:
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    @Cheeeeeeeeeeeze: That’s a nice problem to have. Billingsley and Rollins are both great. The Razzballers will answer, but I like Rollins. If he wasn’t in a slump right now, would he even be part of the deal?

  52. Prince says:
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    Yup, nice column, Jersey Joe. Well done.

    Question re: LaPorta. Hamilton’s on the DL, so I’m looking for a sub for 2 weeks. Grey said LaPorta over Spils, Cabrera, Duncan, Fowler, (Bourn?). My questions are,
    1) do you think LaPo will acclimate to ML pitching in the span of 2 weeks? If not,
    2) will he be a potential upgrade over any of my current OFs: Crawford, Bruce, Hart, Pence, (Hamilton)?

    If “no” and “no,” it doesn’t seem to be a worthwhile pickup, unless I can anticipate trading him off in 2 weeks, but in a shallow 10-team league that could be tough.

  53. Prince says:
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    What’s the consensus on Galarraga? He was just dropped, but I know he was the Numero Uno risky pitcher this year. I don’t have a good handle on his worth at this point.

  54. Jersey Joe

    Jersey Joe says:
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    @Harley: I’d respectfully disagree with Grey here; Cecil’s really been struggling at AAA, and he’s on a pitch count (he was a college reliever, and TOR has been careful with him) anyway. I’d sit him.

    @RB: Totally agree with Grey; Burnett. If you read my posting, you know how I feel about Liriano.

    @I’m Keith Hernandez: As Grey sez.

    @dtv: Same order as Grey – if a re-draft league. If keeper, I’d def. target Fowler. Real bright future.

    @ep: Thanks for the kind words – much appreciated!

    @Cheeeeeeeeeeeze: What does the rest of your P staff look like? You’re subtracting 2 big time starters in Doc and Peavy if you make this deal. If you have some other SP to lean on and you need bags like crazy (i.e., it can make a big difference in your standing in that category), J-Roll looks attractive. But I will note that his GB% has been going up over the last 1 1/2 seasons, and accordingly, his PWR has been dropping. Bartlett could provide ~75% of J-Roll’s HR, SB, and RBI numbers with a comparable AVG (but note a big difference in R, partially due to Bartlett’s low spot in TB lineup). Billingsley, meanwhile, is just dealing right now… I’m usually an offense over P guy 90% of the time, but this one is super close, bec. I think Billingsley is breaking out huge.

    And thanks for the props – I’ll be looking for your column – sounds good.

    @Prince: Thanks a lot.

    Is this a keeper league? I’ll assume no; if that’s the case,

    1) I think he can provide a little pop, but I wouldn’t expect a ton of production. Even with Hafner out, Wedge has options at 1B, DH, and OF. So, LaPorta will play some, but not everyday.

    2) No… but are you leaving Hamilton in as a dead spot at OF?

    I dislike dead spots, so adding someone to cover Hamilton is a good idea. Can you DL Hamilton and add someone, or drop someone not listed here? If so, I would actually consider Fowler or Spilborghs from the group you mentioned, even over LaPorta. Need SB – Fowler, otherwise – Spils. I think either of those 2 guys will give you a good cover for Hamilton.

    RE: Galarraga… He’s one of those SP whose numbers scream “Mirage!”, but he somehow defies logic and puts up numbers. If you have the space, he could be worth the pick up; just depends what dead weight you can drop. I’d add him if I could, let some P injuries hit another team, and then flip him for something worthwhile.

  55. Jersey Joe

    Jersey Joe says:
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    @Prince: Forgot to mention re: your Hamilton/LaPorta question – COL is home for most of the next 2 weeks. That’s another reason to consider one of the Rocks I mentioned.

  56. Cheeeeeeeeeeeze says:
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    Yeah, my pitching staff is stacked. but this is the CBS points league and pitching seems to win week after week. So I went ahead and made the deal with Billingsley, thanks for the input and I’ll look forward to your future columns

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