So, I thought the ridiculously garish nickname jerseys over “players’ weekend” were going to be the lamest thing ever (side note:  Huh? Don’t the players get 100% of the attention every weekend? Isn’t that kind of like when you asked your parents why there was Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, but no Children’s Day, and they told you EVERY day was Children’s Day?) Maybe the uniforms were kind of silly, but I’m going to have to admit that I actually enjoyed them.  Of course, we have to remember that the comedy bar in professional sports is, well, comically low… but still, the jerseys were pretty entertaining. My three personal favorites:

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3) Sonny Gray: PICKLES — I’m not sure if I like this one more because it sounds cute, or because Gray, when interviewed, couldn’t really come up with an explanation for why he chose it, which I find endearingly weird.

2) Zach Davies: BAT BOY – which would have been fairly clever anyway, but was almost actually funny since Davies still looks like he could successfully go undercover at a junior high school.

1) Josh Phegley: PTBNL – Phegley wasn’t even the player to be named later the one time he was traded, but like with Zach Davies’ choice, this would be kind of funny on anyone. The humor, in my humble opinion, is compounded due to the fact that Phegley is a random backup catcher that no one has ever heard of.

(Somewhat on-the-nose but passable honorable mentions: ALL RISE, COREY’S BROTHER, KENLEYFORNIA, ALL-STARLIN, SHOWMINGO).

By the way, I realize that the majority of baseball nicknames are pretty weak, but in this case I feel like the guys could have stepped it up a notch.  It was for charity after all, and how often do these uniform-clad players get a chance for this amount of self-expression on the major league baseball diamond (not counting Carlos Martinez’s hair this year, which I’ve blocked from my own personal stockpile of mental images)?  With the possible exception of superstar-level guys (I’ll pardon MIGGY, GOLDY, or even MURPH at this point), I can’t condone the embarrassingly uncreative use of free jersey space.  I contend that anyone who, a) simply shortened his last name and b) was a giant fantasy disappointment this year, should get an automatic unpaid two-game suspension. I’m talking to you, LACK, HARV, FOLTY, ODO, DANS, and LUC!

And now, speaking of fantasy disappointments, it’s time to see who might still be available on the cesspool-like NL or AL-only waiver wire as we head into the last month of the season.

AL

Kevan Smith. As I and others on this site have mentioned before, catchers are boring. Especially this season and especially in deep leagues. Is Kevan Smith boring (as a fantasy player – perhaps he’s an absolute hoot in real life)?Well, I was fairly sure I’d written about him last week, dozed off, and forgotten about it, so I’m going to say yes. But according to a “quick” internet search (is there really any such thing?), I didn’t, so I’m gonna talk about him now. When we crunch some numbers, Smith is actually the sixth most valuable catcher in standard AL-only leagues over the last month, hitting .314 with 2 homers and 11 RBI. The fact that those stats translate to the number 6 catcher in the league for August prove that A) the catcher position is even more dull than we thought, and B) as with real-life men, sometimes boring and dependable isn’t the worst choice.

Mark Canha. Okay, this is obviously for the deepest of leagues where having a warm body is better than an empty roster spot. Give a girl a break – it’s hard to come up with a catchy title towards the end of a long, hot, emotionally grueling summer of fantasy baseball! In trying find some positive things to say about Canha, here’s what I got: he qualifies at two positions (1B/OF), has more than one homer (4) and more than one steal (2) on the season, and may get a handful of at bats for a major league baseball team over the next few weeks. Hmm, maybe he had a clever nickname for players’ weekend; let’s check… CANHA. (Sad-face emjoi). All right, I give up.

Zack Granite. Granite made nary a splash in the big-league waters during his last call-up, but his actual name is so cool that he doesn’t even need a clever nickname, so that’s a plus. Even with Robbie Grossman down, Granite may not get a ton of bats, but he should be motivated to make them count, as there’s no time like the present for him to prove to the Twins that he can hang at the major league level. His AAA numbers were quite nice this year: in 76 games, a .340 AVG, .394 OBP, 5 homers, and 18 steals. We’ll see if he can translate any of that into success in the show, and he should be of particular interest to any super deep-leaguers for whom a few extra September stolen bases could make a difference.

Craig Gentry.   Gentry is no prospect; he’s a 33-year old utility man who has already shuttled back and forth from the minors a few times this year. (Did I mention that your deep-league waiver wire might be a bit of a cesspool right about now?) Gentry has only had 30-some at bats over the last few weeks, but he is hitting .355 with a .394 OBP over that time, and he did have a two-steal game. He was picked up in my deepest AL-only league over the weekend by a team who is in the money hunt, had an empty roster spot, and could use any possible run or steal (one RBI made the difference between second and third place in this league last year).   You never know who’s going to make the difference in a league that crazy deep.

NL

Jake McGee/Pat Neshek. If you’ve had better things to do than keep tabs on the Rockies bullpen over the last week (must be nice!), here’s a recap: A) Greg Holland has lost his slider, isn’t so good at pitching anymore, and two days after getting the “managerial vote of closer confidence” (ha ha ha ha!), was unofficially bumped from the gig. (The Rockies are “navigating the closer role” for the time being, which might be the most pitiful term for breaking up with someone that I’ve heard yet). B) Jake McGee took over mid-save op on Saturday and got the job done, then was given the ball in the 9th inning on Sunday and converted his second save of the weekend. C) Pat Neshek has also been pitching well, including pitching the 8th inning of Saturday’s game, and may be in the saves mix, as the kids call it, as well. D) Addendum after I originally wrote this: McGee pitched in a non-save situation Monday, as did Holland, who had a clean inning – he may already be the guy again. Conclusion: this bullpen is lame and I pity all of us who need to pay attention to it over the next month.

Sal Romano.  Romano’s numbers are hideous on the season (4.96 ERA/1.54 WHIP going into Tuesday), but his ownership numbers are up a bit over the last week or two, as he’s actually been pitching pretty well.  Tuesday he beat the Mets (granted not exactly an all-star lineup these days), going 6 innings with 3 earned on 6 hits, with 2 walks and 5 Ks.  He now has three quality starts in a row, which is more than I can say for way too many of the starting pitchers on my fantasy teams.

Tyler Mahle. As long as we’re talking about the Reds rotation, I suppose we should discuss Tyler Mahle, who made his major league debut on Sunday against the Pirates. He gave up 3 earned on 3 hits and 4 (blech!) walks, but his minor league walk rate was around 5% this year, so perhaps we can chalk all of the free passes up to nerves. I don’t know how many more chances he’ll have this late in the season since he already threw 144 innings in the minors, but his numbers over those 144 innings were pretty impressive (2.06 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 138 K/30 BB), so there’s some upside here.

Chris Iannetta. Okay, I think I’m finally ready to concede that the Chris Herrmann thing just isn’t gonna happen in 2017. One of the Diamondbacks’ three (still don’t get this!) bad catchers looks to be done for the season (Jeff Mathis, hand fracture), so Iannetta should get extra at bats and I’m gonna make him my obligatory NL-version of a desperation catcher for super deep two-catcher leagues. Even though he’s not much of a hitter, at least several of the guys around him in the Arizona lineup are! (Plus, he’s actually been hitting pretty well lately:  .350 with a homer over the last week or so).

  1. Grey

    Grey says:
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    Good stuff, the opening cracked me up!

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @Grey: Thank you, sir! Hearing and reading the players’ comments about the jerseys was pretty damn entertaining — usually laughing at them, and not with them, I’m afraid. Like Michael Taylor’s tweet about how he has a year to think up a great nickname for players’ weekend 2018… is there anyone other than Michael Taylor who is that confident he’s even going to be on a MLB roster next August??

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Haha, Michael Taylor got assurances from Dusty

  2. White Rabbit says:
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    @Grey — always have to be first don’t ya

    Too bad Billy Ripken wasn’t still playing –

  3. VinWins

    VinWins says:
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    I just about had all the Cardinal nicknames figured out, and then they went back to last names. Let’s see… Yadi was Molina, Wonger was Wong, Carp was Carpenter, and T. Pham was… Fowler, maybe?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Did Jon Jay go by The Federalist?

      • VinWins

        VinWins says:
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        @Grey: Ha. He doesn’t play for the Cards anymore, but I’d guess no.

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @VinWins: Ha! Man, I loooove me some Tommy Pham, but T. Pham, really? He could have at least gone with a hyphen instead of a period to jazz it up the tiniest bit. I was intrigued when I saw that Oh went with something in Korean characters, but, sigh, it was just his name in Korean (which apparently was still one of the more clever nicknames on the team)

      • VinWins

        VinWins says:
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        @Laura Holt: Yeah, not a creative bunch. Leake should have gone with “Oh No” since that’s what we were saying when he took the mound.

  4. VinWins

    VinWins says:
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    305 J

    • VinWins

      VinWins says:
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      @VinWins: I guess his home area code

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      420 J, I get… 177 LBS, I could assume… 305 J? What’s that?

      • VinWins

        VinWins says:
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        @Grey: Miami area code, where he was born.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Wow, so lame…No way anyone calls him that

  5. Moon Shots says:
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    Wazzup Laura!

    Yeah player’s weekend was kind of a joke. As much as baseball is one of the great obsessions of my life i feel like i kind of have to mildly avoid hearing too many interviews or getting too much of an inside look into the lives and brains of the players i love. I guess anyone who spends all their life energy trying to master one activity is likely to end up pretty boring and one dimensional in other facets. The nearly complete lack of imaginative or interesting nicknames seemed like an example of this.

    Anyhow you asked me to give updates on this last mad push to try and drag the carcass of my weird NL-only waiver wired team of mine across the finish line and into the last playoff seed and im happy to do so! I wont know anything really til sunday but so far its a case of abject failure to score or prevent runs, aided only by the fact that my competitors are doing nearly as badly. Guys like Maeda and Carlos Martinez have really fugged up my pitching line and my hot hitters from last week have turned ice cold. That said, a nice evening tonight for guys like Michael Taylor, Trea Turner, Ozzie Albies and Ianetta and a 2/21 for my opponent have pulled me up somehow to an even 9 to 9 (out of 18). Miles to go, but im not dead yet somehow :)

    As far as our topic of deep league assets are concerned, Ianetta was a good pickup (as you noted) right as my Tyler Flowers finally showed himself to be a mirage. Michael Taylor got dropped and seems like maybe he was a good snag for me. Happ did good stuff yesterday which is what he does every day that i bench him (he get an O’fer every time i start him tho). Pirela seems to have cooled. Nimmo isnt doing enough to justify holding onto him but im giving it some patience. Hoskings has come back down to earth but man did he lend a hand last week. Albies has been hooking it up with triples and good AVG! Ketel Marte seems to be getting it going after that mild injury too. And while they arent deep league assets seems like Trea Turner is getting it going again now and maybe Ian Desmond can do the same. I grabbed Verdugo today in case i make the playoffs and have the chance to see what he could do. Also holding Jack Flaherty though again it wont matter unless i can pull out this win.

    Anyway im working with:

    Suzuki/Flowers/Ianetta
    Hoskins
    Bell
    Desmond
    Albies
    Crawford
    K. Marte
    T. Turner
    J. Turner
    S. Marte
    Nimmo
    Pirela
    Taylor
    Happ
    Verdugo

    Martinez
    Lester
    Godley
    Weaver
    Maeda
    Gray
    Flaherty

    If i could actually win something with that total lack of star power it’ll be worth a giggle. Ill have to come up with a new team name messing with my abundance of Turners and Martes. The Flying Marturners, perhaps.

    Anyway ill update again Sunday. Thanks for the interest and good luck in your leagues!

    • Moon Shots says:
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      @Moon Shots:

      It is accomplished. Won my matchup 10-7-1 while the guy ahead of me for the last playoff spot went 8-8-2. I sneak by him by a single point.

      HRs on Sunday by Pirela, Happ, Ketel Marte, and Ianetta and a nice performance by Luke Weaver save the day. Thank deep diver waiver wire additions!

      :)

      • Laura Holt

        Laura Holt says:
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        @Moon Shots: Congrats!! Awesome that your rag-tag crew came through for you… really shows you how big an impact those kinds of guys can have at this time of year!

  6. charlie hustler says:
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    Hoping that BatBoy is a reference to those old “Weekly World News” tabloids. Half bat, half boy! I know, cash me outside.

    If you respond, I’m curious about John Hicks. Maybe a catcher on the fly? – he seems to be spelling Miggy and the other McCain on a fairly regular basis and hits a bit. I’m going to wade in with tree fitty or so.

    How much will Phillips play in LA? They keep screwing Cowart and I see this as another admission that they don’t trust him.

    Say hello to Mr. Steele for me. Love the concept, love the material, keep it up.

    • charlie hustler says:
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      I meant say hello to Remington; everyone knows that you’re running that show. :)

    • Laura Holt

      Laura Holt says:
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      @charlie hustler: Sorry for the late response; been off the grid for a few days. I actually started a write-up for Hicks but didn’t include it because I didn’t want to go too catcher-heavy… will probably mention him this week as I think he’s a legit option if you need help in a really deep league. And re. Phillips, I have to think he’s the everyday guy now. Thanks for the read, and I’ll be sure to pass along your hello :)

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