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May 06, 2005

ESPN Column

Cordero: Saving Ugly
FRANCISCO CORDERO provided a three-walk, one-hit “save? against Oakland Monday that recalled the Tums-popping glory days of Mitch Williams. That and two runs allowed in a mop-up role last week have propelled his ERA up to 4.76 with a 1.50 WHIP. Nevertheless, he remains as secure as any closer in baseball. Even with a healthy Frank Francisco and Carlos Almanzar around, he’d be safe. Without them, his status is beyond question. What is Texas going to do, throw RON MAHAY out there? Please. Actually, Cordero has allowed a run in only four of twelve appearances. Reliever stats are often skewed by a few bad outings, and Cordero’s are occurring now. Francisco Say Relax.

Dellucci: The Next Barry Bonds

Dellucci had a reasonable walk rate of one per 10.4 plate appearances going into this season. This year, he has 28 walks in 23 games, an unfathomable one per 3.3 PAs. Why am I boring you with walks, a stat that helps only those in sabermetric leagues? Because Buck Showalter has placed him in the leadoff spot and dropped ALFONSO SORIANO and his .292 OBP to fifth. I’m going to suggest with confidence that Dellucci will fail to reach the 156 walks that is his current pace. Nevertheless, as long as he continues to reach base, he’ll stay where he is. For fantasy purposes, he’ll never, ever have more value than he does right now. He still doesn’t, and probably won’t, start against lefties, so you must check your roster daily if you own him.

Nix: Hot or Not?
Outfielder LAYNCE NIX credits a more open stance for his improved batting average. The career .250 hitter is batting a sparkling .346 since returning from his mini-demotion to AAA, albeit with just one homer. Alas, Nix has only two walks in 54 plate appearances and is batting .414 on balls hit in the field of play (that is, discounting homers and strikeouts). Will that last? Well, Pete “Hit King? Rose had a career batting average of .321 on balls in play. Tony Gwynn, .344. Laynce Nix before this season, .319. You see where I’m going. Perhaps Nix really has made an adjustment that will provide permanent benefit, but he won’t be batting .346 for long. Enjoy his effort in AL-only leagues, keep an eye on him in mixed leagues. Remember: he sits against lefties.

Those Other Outfielders

KEVIN MENCH missed a few games with a sore elbow, courtesy of two HBPs nailing the same spot in a three-game stretch. He is starting Friday night and should be back in your lineup. Opposing outfielders have robbed GARY MATTHEWS of a solo shot and a grand slam in the last three days. That doesn’t mean he’s good or anything, but perhaps he’s out of his month-long slump and might provide some value in larger AL-only leagues. He’ll start against lefties and occasionally spell RICHARD HIDALGO, who broke a 16-game, 25-day homerless drought on Wednesday. Grit your teeth and hold on to him in AL-only leagues. I still own him in my 12-team ESPN mixed league, though he’s resting comfortably on my bench.

Rotation: Kenny’s Siren Song
KENNY ROGERS pitched a masterful game last week against a torpid Oakland squad, striking out a whole five batters in the process. His 1.28 WHIP, fine though it is, normally indicates a higher ERA than the 2.11 he currently sports. He has allowed only one homer in 38 innings. Still, with his high age (40) and low K rate (3.76 per nine IP), his risk remains high in mixed leagues. He might help you in the form of spot-starts against weak-hitting teams, but he’s not an own-him-and-forget-him type. His converse, PEDRO ASTACIO, has utterly collapsed after three stellar starts. Friday night, he allowed seven runs in less than one inning. He might rebound against Detroit next week, but obviously he’s a high risk. Your league probably has someone better on the wire.

CHRIS YOUNG has improved to a 3.90 ERA thanks to his 5.2 innings of shutout ball last Tuesday. While he does have potential and can strike out more batters than Rogers and RYAN DRESE combined, he did allow ten baserunners in those 5.2 innings and has more blowup potential than the average bear. Plus, who doesn’t shut out Oakland nowadays? Just watch him in mixed leagues.

Posted by Lucas at May 6, 2005 03:54 PM