Usually a pitcher’s third season in the bigs is the year they truly break out. Another factor to look for is their BB/9, is it trending downwards? Another factor, is K/9 trending upwards? WHIP heading down? Innings aren’t piling on too fast? ERA, while not really a great stat, is it heading down? BABIP fine? On a team that can win some games? Check. Check. Check. Double check. Check. Yup. Oh, yeah. Uh-huh and you betcha. I might sound flippant at times, but I’m not shooting from the hip. And definitely no hip shooting, when I pegged Rich Hill as a breakout for the 2008 season. Hill had my faith. All of the data I looked at told me to ignore his spring training mechanics issue. He would figure it out. According to WebMD, Rich Hill came down with Ankielitis. A rare condition when stats don’t matter nearly as much as a psychiatrist’s opinion. He is a shook one. Maybe Greinke can sponsor him on his road back from his ‘psyche ache.’ Until then, I suggest you drop Hill in all but the deepest of leagues. I’m holding onto him right now in a NL-Only league. In all other leagues, I’ll be cutting ties. Goodbye, Hill. Oh, yeah, goodbye to Gallardo, as well. His injury isn’t the kind he’s going to come back from any time soon. You should cut ties with him in all one year leagues. That’s if you’re paying attention. (I hate people who abandon teams. But then you wouldn’t be reading this if you abandon teams, unless you just like to be contrary.) To replace Hill and/or Gallardo, I’m looking at these guys (obviously depends on league depth): Shawn Hill, Jeremy Guthrie, Jon Lieber, Tom Gorzelanny (extremely high risk, and I wouldn’t start him until he shows he can be decent), Mark Buehrle (not an every start starter), Jo-Jo Reyes (high risk, high reward), Jason Schmidt (looking for a late-May/early-June return, expect setbacks), Braden Looper (not an every start starter) and Aaron Laffey (probably loses his starting job when Westbrook returns). All and all… Ugh. But the show must go on. Anyway, here’s what I saw yesterday:

Taylor Buchholz – Now setting up Fuentes. I picked him up in a NL-only league and got a random save. Hey, if you’re trolling for MRs, you can do worse.

Aaron Laffey – Sometimes teams don’t have scouting reports on guys and they sneak through. Consider Laffey a sneaker at this point.

Mike Jacobs – I tried to trade him for Saito in one league. (The team announced they were punting saves and I figured I’d make a run at their only closer.) Anyway, I was denied. Hey, if you hit on enough girls, eventually you get laid. I think this non-trade could end up benefiting me in the end. That’s if Jacobs’s finger holds up.

Nick Markakis – Hit his six out of the parkakis on Sunday and he’s a second half hitter.

Kenny Rogers – Yesterday, I watched some Baseball Tonight for the first time all year. (They should consider hiring a homeless person to dress as Kruk and dole out some insight. Ravich, “Kenny Rogers can still get out of jams.” Homeless Kruk, “I urinate in public!”) The reason why I mention this because now on Baseball Tonight they highlight someone from each team in their “Fantasy Impact” section. (Maybe this is an old feature, but I don’t usually watch Baseball Tonight. I just watch the games.) So in their Fantasy Impact section for the Twins/Tigers game, who do they focus on? Cabrera? Morneau? Gomez? Sheffield? Any hitter on either team? Nope, Kenny Rogers. I kid you not. They run his line like this is helpful to someone. Outside of AL-Only leagues, is he even on anyone’s team? I think I’m getting an ulcer. Thanks, Baseball Tonight!

Joe Saunders – Kruk, “Give up solo home runs. That’s what great ones do.” Somewhere Bert Blyleven is smiling. Anyway, Saunders shouldn’t have won this game. He was very hittable.

Carlos Ruiz – Hit a home run on Sunday. Another preseason fave of mine that fell out of favor, but maybe he can get hot. If you’re still looking for a catcher, there’s still plenty of time left in the season to turn things around.

Santiago Casilla – Still no runs given up. I don’t think he reaches Orel’s record 59 scoreless innings, but he got a vulture win yesterday. Ya know, every little bit helps.

Melky Cabrera – Leads the Yankees in home runs. I think Arod might have something to say about that by the end of the year.

Robinson Cano – Sunday home run. I think you still can buy low on him, but you better act fast.

German Duran – Hit a home run as he filled in for Kinsler yesterday, but he could get time at third with Blalock on the DL (Blalock on the DL? No way!). Duran went 22/11 in Double A last year. Cust kayin’.

Jack Cust – Speaking of which, he hit another home run. He goes on streaks where you wonder why he isn’t owned on 100% of teams. Then he gets cold and you wonder why you ever picked him up. Ride the hot streak.

Chone Figgins – Looks like he might be headed to the DL, which will be a good thing rather than him sit on the bench for two weeks and hinder your ability to fill in for him.

Ian Stewart – I now have him in three leagues. I’ll probably drop him by next Sunday, but the Rockies are a bit of a mess right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if they call Stewart up sooner rather than later. If they don’t call him up, you drop him. No harm, no foul. I know you’re probably excited about the prospects of having Eric Hinske on your bench all week, but why not pick up Stewart? Are you afraid of success? Winning got you down?

Tony Pena Jr. – Hillman gave Pena 27 days to get himself straight or Callaspo gets the start.  Considering Pena has a .252 career average in seven minor league seasons, I’d say he’s probably had enough time to prove himself. Pena, don’t go away mad, just go away.

Kevin Kouzmanoff – I’ve never seen someone get so many empty lines. He has more 0-for-4s than Robert Downey Jr. has drug relapses (BTW, Thought Iron Man was entertaining if uneven. What I don’t get is why was Paltrow in this movie? Who likes her besides Chris, Apple and Moses? She really makes my skin crawl. Why can’t Mila Kunis be in every movie that needs to have, like, a girl? Kunis could’ve pulled this role off even if it does seem like she’s coked out of her mind all the time. That would’ve at least made for an interesting subtext with Bob Downey. Like when are they going to stick needles in each other’s veins? Which reminds me, for a few of those early scenes when Downey’s partying I couldn’t help but think, “Not only was he partying like this for real, but he was probably doing it while getting a hummer from Anthony Michael Hall.”)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia – He’s starting two days then Laird for two days. Best platoon ever for fantasy baseball purposes. You know exactly when to start him. I have Navarro and Salty switching out in one league, so far 6-for-14 with 2 RBIs.

Scott Kazmir – Returns to take a four inning dump. Wasn’t a fan coming into the season, and I’m still not. I’d see what I can get for him in a trade.

Mike Cameron – Hit two home runs. No reason why he can’t do his uze — 20/20, .250.

Eric Gagne – Pre-steroids testing — 84 consecutive saves. After steroids testing — 25 saves and a plus 5 ERA. Weird!

Hunter Pence – I wasn’t that high on Pence coming into the year, but he has three home runs in three games. You know, um, consecutively.

Greg Smith – At this point, I’d use him in mixed leagues (especially for his next start against the Rangers), but I wouldn’t bet that this streak of excellent pitching will last. I think he’s another sneaker.

Aaron Cook – I can’t imagine anyone’s trading for a Rockies pitcher, but if you have him I’d see what you can get.

Ryan Zimmerman – Sat for the first time in 205 games. He insists that he didn’t sit because he’s batting .217/3/14. I insist he’s an effin’ liar.

Evan Longoria – I think there’s probably a more reliable (read: boring) option on your waivers. Upside’s cool and all, but in one year leagues I’d prefer Zimmerman. And I don’t like Zimmerman. Maybe someone’s fed up in your league with Zimmerman and would like some Longoria.

Tim Redding – If picking up Redding causes you to get an erection for longer than four hours, you should see a doctor, but NL-Only owners could do worse.

  1. Steve says:

    I’ve been on the Buchholz for weeks – sounds like a treatment for a skin condition or something. Despite you guys telling me to forget him ;-), I grabbed him and he’s been good to me – his SP eligibility fits nicely into my relievers-only strategy.
    Wish he’d been pulled after getting the last out in the 8th though – that would have been a Hold and I would have had a dominant-looking 7-5 win, rather than the limp 6-5 I ended up with. After Neshek not getting into a one-run game, a lousy save was the last thing I needed!

  2. BSA says:

    repost off “ask the ‘perts” with added edit of – I hear you with Longo but I am still intrigued.
    2nd and 3rd base rotation questions based on getting dinged up. I have Kinsler, ARam , Longoria, and Figgins as options at second and third. Based on my info I am thinking of putting Longoria at third and Kinsler at second. Based on schedule and the points they all earned this past week any one of them should be able to improve, yet I don’t see ARam crushing any homers with a sore wrist and the speedster Figgins should be slowed down upon return. Any opinions? The rest of the lineup for the week is Mauer, Morneau, Renteria, Thome, Damon, Quentin, and Kemp with Wells and Varitek on the bench. Pitchers being Becket, Myers, Bedard, Cueto, Volquez, Fuentes, Papelbon with Ryan and Hudson on the bench. Opinions or something I am missing?

  3. BSA says:

    added thinking after looking at my scout team:
    Pedro Martinez – watch or washed up

  4. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Rudy Gamble: Great link.

    @Steve: Aren’t you ever happy?

    @BSA: First Pedro — I liked him coming into the season, but he went down so fast, I don’t think he’s going to be worth it. If you have a spot on your DL, no harm throwing him there and see what happens when he comes back.

    Aram — The pitch that hit him looked nasty where I thought it might DL him at first. I’d leave him on the bench along with Figgins.

  5. Tony B. says:

    My closers right now are Soria, Rauch, and Wilson. Would you object to me offering Kazmir, Pence and Wilson to another owner for his Lidge and Corey Hart? Given that my OF’ers are Holliday, Hamilton, Quentin, and Damon.

    I picked up Cano in a trade last week, I dealt away Phillips to get him.

  6. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Tony B.: Not a huge fan of the three guys you’re trading away, but I think you’re giving up a bit too much in that trade.

  7. Steve says:

    Happy? If I wanted to be happy I wouldn’t be playing fantasy baseball! Still undefeated though – that makes me happy :-)

  8. Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    Is Greg Smith useful at all? The 10 Ks got my attention, but I can’t seem to find anyone who likes him, other than the 46,000 people who just picked him up in Yahoo! public leagues.

  9. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: As I said above, I think he needs to be owned at this point in mixed leagues, but he’s in for a rude awakening at some point in the near future. His minor league stats don’t say dominant big league pitcher. Major league hitters will catch up to him. It’s just a matter of time.

  10. Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    Sorry — flaked on that. My eyes skipped down to your lack-of-enthusiasm for Eva(n) Longoria, aka The Future of My Franchise. I’ve got every unlikable 3B: Evan, Zim and, for good measure, Golden Boy Alex Gordon.

  11. Steve says:

    As Kelly Johnson seems to be getting his s*** together, I’m thinking of dropping Aaron Hill for Jack Cust to use when he’s hot and bench when he’s not. Good plan?

  12. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Steve: Yeah, I like that move.

  13. Steve says:

    OK – Cust Playin’. Question – do you sit him against lefties? Hitting .150 against ’em this year so I’m guessing the answer is yes…

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