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June 15, 2005

ESPN Column

Rogers Surrenders Run, Nation Awestruck
KENNY ROGERS allowed only six baserunners in his last start, but five scored. Oddly, he also chose that night to set his season-best for strikeouts with eight, so at least his owners got a nice key lime pie for dessert after watching the meat he served to Florida’s hitters. Rogers will undoubtedly fall back to Planet Earth at some point, as he can’t possibly maintain that fabulously lucky average on balls-in-play of .248. Still, he does have some talent to fortify that luck, and his owners ought to be able to ride him through at least the All-Star break. On Friday, Rogers will face a Nationals squad that hits pretty well on the road, followed by a home-and-home set will the Angels, who have been hitting better of late.

Chris Young, Staff Ace?
The allegedly insightful fantasy correspondent follows the Rangers year-round but didn’t say squat during the spring about the guy with the third-best ERA in the American League. Quite true. I just didn’t see it. In 200 innings at AA and AAA, Young had an aggregate ERA of 3.84, good but not any better than what fodder like Pat Mahomes and Lou Pote are offering right now. Young also had a 4.71 ERA in 36 Major-League innings last year although he did show great potential in a couple of starts. Looking to his future, is that 2.78 ERA for real? No, not really; Young has had only one awful start out of thirteen, a trend that almost no one can maintain. Having said that, Young really does have the look of a Ranger pitcher who can help a mixed-league fantasy team for the long haul.

The Ballpark In Arlington: Pitcher’s Paradise
While casual fantasy owners refer to The Ballpark In Arlington as Coors Field East to their detriment, The Ballpark does inflate run-scoring as much as any field in the AL. Or does it? So far, Rangers and their opponents have scored 9.88 runs per game in Arlington and 10.84 in road games. Based on OPS, The Ballpark has been almost neutral (.785 in Arlington vs. .776 on the road). As to why, I have no idea. My guess would be a combination of unusually mild weather up until recently and pure dumb luck, better known as a small sample size. I have no reason to expect this phenomenon to continue, and Arlington should revert to a more run-happy environment hereafter. It’s just another kernel of knowledge to employ when evaluating Rogers, Young, or any other Ranger.

Dellucci Celebrates June By Not Hitting
DAVID DELLUCCI loves those Texas spring days, but the summer heat saps his strength. In 2004, he batted .330.396/.560 in April and May followed by a paltry .203/.311/.390 the rest of the year. Through June 1st of this year, he hit .286/.458/.555, assisted by a Bondsian walk rate of one per four plate appearances. Since then, alas, he is batting .150/.244/.350. The truth lays somewhere in the middle. Dellucci is a fine fourth outfielder and an asset to any team, but as a mixed-league fantasy outfielder, his shelf-life is short. Congratulations if you picked him up and got some mileage out of his white-hot two months, but you need to scan that free-agent list and consider a replacement. In eight and ten-team ESPN leagues, you almost certainly can upgrade the position this minute.

Beware Barajas
Unlike Dellucci, catcher ROD BARAJAS has found June to his liking, batting .379 with two homers and seven RBI and increasing his ownership in AL-only leagues to a lofty 74%. I implore his owners to beware. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you can ride his little hot streak for a while, but I can’t envision a winning owner with Barajas on his roster. Barajas batted .223 with three dingers and fifteen RBI for the entirety of April and May, and those months more accurately indicate his worth than his fun-filled two weeks in June. For better or worse, Barajas’s June bloom will guarantee his continued presence in the lineup, while 25-year-old GERALD LAIRD and his line of .285/.356/.520 rot in Oklahoma City.

Rodriguez Wows Critics And Fans In Debut
Ryan Drese’s replacement RICARDO RODRIGUEZ allowed only two runs over five innings in his season debut and also struck out five, though he did allow eight baserunners. Given his solid performance in AAA and the lack of alternatives (exacerbated by the ever-increasing possibility of PEDRO ASTACIO’s dismissal), Rodriguez should get a lengthy look in the Majors regardless of his performance. He’s risky but worth a shot in AL-only leagues. Resist the urge to claim him in all but the largest of mixed leagues.

Posted by Lucas at June 15, 2005 01:43 AM