By Bruce Herman
April 15, 2011
Close-Up on Closers
Tony LaRussa says if chooses to go another way from Ryan Franklin, who’s blown three saves in four appearances, the way he’ll go is Miguel Batista, who has one more career save (41) than years he’s been on earth. Earth to LaRussa: You have Jason Motte.
34-year-old Matt Thornton is seeing his first real chance at closing slipping away, and young Chris Sale has been unhittable one day, hapless the next. Ozzie Guillen says he will now consider Sergio Santos, who’s been effective, but has zero high-leverage experience.
Scott Downs has been activated by the Angels, but while he could close later in the season, he’s well down the pecking order for the foreseeable future.
Gotta think it can’t be too long before Buck Showalter turns to Koji Uehara to save a game. Kevin Gregg has been underwhelming.
I’d predict that Joe Nathan, who squandered yesterday’s lead, would be given a temporary respite – except that Matt Capps replaced him and dished up a walk-off homer.
Playing for Keepers
A prospect to consider if you’re focused on the future:
Michael Pineda, SP, Mariners: Growing pains are inevitable for a 22-year-old who’s already done a lot of growing (6-foot-7, 260 pounds), but the two strong starts merit attention. I consider Pineda the top pitching prospect in the game, and he seems to be at the right place in the right ballpark at the right time.
The fantasy impact of recent transactions:
Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers (to DL): The big winner here during Hamilton’s extended absence is Julio Borbon, who was teetering on losing his job to David Murphy. Now there’s room for both. Still-promising Chris Davis was recalled, but it’s hard to see where he fits.
Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers (to DL): Declared to be out more than a month and chirping about possibly retiring. Furcal gives way to Jamey Carroll who, you might be surprised to learn, is hitting .299 over the last 365 days.
Chris Snyder, C, Pirates (off DL): Ryan Doumit goes back to being the fourth outfielder and third catcher. Jason Jarmillo was optioned.
J.J. Hardy, SS, Orioles (to DL): Cesar Izturis and Robert Andino share time – to no great effect.
Rajai Davis, OF, Blue Jays (to DL): It’s time for Corey Patterson to have his annual three-week hot streak.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals (to DL): No natural heir, but Jerry Hairston Jr. gets some run.
Jonathan Lucroy, C, Brewers (off DL): George Kottaras will now play once or twice a week.
Joe Mauer, C, Twins (to DL): You and your batting average category want no part of Drew Butera or Steve Holm.
The Friday Sweep
A broad brush of fantasy-relevant notes:
Among the surprising (and impactful) batting order adjustments in the early going:
• Jimmy Rollins to third: One whole RBI so far. How’s that working out?
• Stephen Drew to cleanup: Small sample, but he’s 6-for-13 with 5 RBI there.
• Chase Headley to second: Was just moved, but career OPS in that spot is .520.
• Andrew McCutchen to third: Pegged for 30-plus steals, but as a middle-of-the-order guy, he’s tried only one and was thrown out.
The Giants are pondering switching out Aubrey Huff (to first base) and Brandon Belt (to right). Neither is swinging up to expectations, but the impetus is defensive…Jason Bay, whose return has been pushed back another two weeks, is a glacially slow healer. Between his last year’s concussion and this year’s oblique, he’ll not have played a game in nine months…Zack Greinke should be ready about the same time as Bay, but Grady Sizemore is just a few days away…A.J. Burnett still hasn’t taken a loss in 13 April starts dating back to 2008…League stat leaders include Yunel Escobar in AVG (.438), Alex Gordon in runs (11), Jorge Posada in homers (5) and Sam Fuld in stolen bases (7). Wow.