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July 06, 2005

ESPN Column

Rogers: Two or More Starts Before Suspension
KENNY ROGERS received a 20-game suspension for decking two cameramen last week, but since he appealed the sentence, he remains a free man. With their increasingly ragged rotation, Texas is setting him up to pitch as often as possible before the appeal is heard. Rogers will face Toronto at home on Saturday, then pitch next Thursday in Oakland where he has prospered. He pitched well in his last start despite the broken finger in his non-pitching hand. Rogers has dropped to 76% ownership in mixed leagues, so he might be available in your league. I recommend him for his next two starts.

Young Rocked
Boston torched CHRIS YOUNG for six earned runs Tuesday night. It could have been worse; several caught fly balls came uncomfortably close to the bleachers. With three weak outings in four starts, Young's ERA has jumped to 3.79, a more realistic number than the sub-three ERA he sported a month ago. I see no reason to worry much. Boston has a tendency to beat up other pitchers. Young does have 20 strikeouts during his four-start span of ugliness, so he is helping his owners in that regard. If you're the active type, you might consider benching him against the league's offensive titans (NY, Boston, Baltimore).

Other Rotators
RICARDO RODRIGUEZ is entrenched with Ryan Drese and Pedro Astacio gone. He really hasn't pitched as well as his 3.90 ERA suggests (four homers allowed and only eleven strikeouts in 30 innings), so he has yet to make the jump to usefulness in typical mixed leagues. The ever mercurial CHAN HO PARK has offered two consecutive strong outings after averaging allowing twenty runs in his previous fifteen innings. I don't recommend him outside of 20-team AL-only leagues. He's just too risky. Likewise, JOHN WASDIN is a huge risk despite pitching exceptionally in long relief and one spot start. He'll start this Friday and probably gets the nod in Rogers' eventual absence. JOAQUIN BENOIT and JUAN DOMINGUEZ are longshots to replace Rogers; neither has a strong track record as a starter.

Outfield News
RICHARD HIDALGO has hit bottom. After batting .139 with six RBI in June, Hidalgo sat for three of four games, then missed last night with knee tendonitis. Injured or not, I have to grumpily concede that he's a lost cause; I really thought he'd make a decent outfielder in larger mixed leagues. GARY MATTHEWS has hit no better than Hidalgo but has "earned" a platoon with him in right field. Avoid him in mixed leagues, and don’t go out of your way to claim him in AL-only leagues. LAYNCE NIX is drawing regular work against lefties for the first time in his career. This season, he's batting 6-for-17 against them in sharp contrast to his struggles in prior years. He takes a step up in fantasy value, but not enough to merit ownership in all but the largest mixed leagues.

Names to Remember
Should Texas fall too far in the race for the division or wild card, their minor leagues have some names you might want to keep in mind. Perhaps most likely to help the team this season is outfielder JASON BOTTS, currently hitting .283/.379/.541 in AAA. Botts won't impress anyone with his glove but could take right field away from Hidalgo and Matthews as the season wanes. ADRAIN GONZALEZ, who made the team in April but never got a chance to prove himself, is batting .314/.382/.502 in AAA. He'll receive a September call-up at the very least. Should Texas trade ALFONSO SORIANO, Texas could give his job to either MARSHALL MCDOUGALL or prospect IAN KINSLER, batting .278/.340/.474 in AAA.

Posted by Lucas at July 6, 2005 01:41 AM