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April 16, 2005

ESPN Column

All Outfielders Utterly Worthless
Hyperbolic, I know, but RICHARD HIDALGO is two for his last 21, KEVIN MENCH is batting .200 with no extra-base hits this season, and struggling GARY MATTHEWS has found himself on the bench two of the last three games. You already know Hidalgo is supremely flaky; just be patient and he should come around. To my surprise and dismay, Mench has started only seven of the first eleven. He really needs to step up or he could lose more time to DAVID DELLUCCI. His ownership has already fallen to 65% in ESPN mixed leagues. I do think he’ll improve and provide value. Dellucci has six starts is eleven games and has a wild line of .235/.500/.647, but even if he wrests more at-bats from Mench, he’s a fourth outfielder at heart and not worth owning in mixed leagues.

As for Matthews, he was never worth owning in mixed leagues anyway. He’ll get an opportunity to straighten out, so his owners in AL-only leagues shouldn’t cut bait yet. Still, keep an eye on his playing time. Friday night, Buck Showalter gave Hidalgo his first start in CF in three years in favor of Matthews. AL-only owners should also keep an eye on LAYNCE NIX, batting .259/.394/.481 in AAA. If Matthews continues to struggle and Nix plays well, Nix will supplant him. Fifth outfielder CHAD ALLEN has a nifty .357 average starting solely against lefties. Nevertheless, he is Chad Allen, and has no value except as emergency filler in AL-only leagues.

Patience With Teixeira
MARK TEIXEIRA might be disappointing his owners with his .217 batting average, but don’t worry. Teixeira has actually brought that average up from a paltry .125 over his past five games. If he suffers a 2-for-25 streak in mid-August, chances are that you and I might not even notice. Since he did it in games two through six, everyone is alarmed. Last night, Teixeira homered and even stole a base, one of about four you might see from him this season. He’ll drive in a million runs with the guys hitting in front of him, and he’ll justify your high draft choice. I see some bizarre trades involving him in ESPN’s archives. Whoever offered Teixeira straight up for Eric Byrnes needs to find a new hobby. My wife recommends scrapbooking.

Vote For Pedro?
PEDRO ASTACIO, last effective in 2000, pitched his second consecutive gem on Thursday, and his ownership in AL-only leagues has rocketed to 84%. I suppose I can’t blame his new owners. I witnessed that start, and his curveball snapped Toronto’s hitters into little pieces. Astacio has also garnered a trifle of interest in mixed leagues. Is he worth the risk? I’m a bit skeptical, and I doubt he’ll offer much value except for the potentially high strikeout total. Facing Seattle in Safeco and Toronto at home is a relatively easy way to get off to a good start. Astacio faces the low-scoring A’s next but then must battle against the Yankees and Red Sox.

Other Starters
Nobody owns KENNY ROGERS and RYAN DRESE for their strikeouts, but one would expect more than four in 33 innings between them. Drese has the odd distinction of having an ERA higher than his peripherals would indicate despite his miniscule strikeout rate. In the long run, no amount of ground ball induction will compensate for a K rate below one per nine innings. Drese simply has to make more hitters miss if he wants to succeed. The same applies to Rogers, who (temporarily) has a pretty ERA and WHIP but no wins. Hold off in mixed leagues. As for CHRIS YOUNG, he has about two more starts to show he belongs in the Majors. RICARDO RODRIGUEZ has a 2.25 ERA in two AAA starts and would be first in line to replace him.

Posted by Lucas at April 16, 2005 05:57 PM