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July 21, 2005

ESPN Column

Rogers Starts Thursday, Then What?
MLB will hear KENNY ROGERS’ appeal of his 20-game suspension on Friday. Should it be upheld in full, Rogers would disappear until August 11 against the Yankees. Or, perhaps not. The Players Association may file a grievance if the suspension isn’t reduced significantly (on technical grounds, as Bud Selig himself decided the punishment instead of baseball’s veep of operations), so Rogers might hang around for a while longer. His fantasy owners should keep him in the lineup it is confirmed that he’s suspended. Rogers will pitch next Tuesday in Baltimore if he remains a free man.

The Replacements
The Texas rotation should consist of CHRIS YOUNG, CHAN HO PARK, RICARDO RODRIGUEZ, and… man, this is depressing. JOAQUIN BENOIT started Wednesday night against the Yankees. Benoit has always pitched much better in relief, and pitching in The Ballpark against a superior offense didn’t help. Benoit might lose what value he has in AL-only leagues if he continues to start. JOHN WASDIN might get another chance, but he also has bombed as a starter after making several strong relief appearances. Texas might recall R.A. DICKEY from Oklahoma, where he has worked on becoming a knuckleballer. Former Astros prospect WILFREDO RODRIGUEZ could get a chance once he returns to good health. Basically, I’ve named a bunch of guys who have no value in any league.

Trading Season
At seven games behind LA, fifth in the wildcard standings, and staring at three weeks of a sub-patchwork rotation, Texas might already be looking ahead to 2006. ALFONSO SORIANO seems the obvious candidate to leave: an arbitration-eligible player who stands to make in excess of $10 million next year. AL-only owners of KEVIN MENCH shouldn’t worry. Trading him makes no sense as he’s inexpensive and the only current outfielder hitting at all. Texas also probably will retain DAVID DELLUCCI, who is a Showalter favorite and badly needed source of OBP. I suppose RICHARD HIDALGO is on the block, but he’s been worthless aside from the occasional homer. Texas isn’t inclined to trade any pitching.

Outfield Duty

Hidalgo and GARY MATTHEWS have started every game since LAYNCE NIX hit the DL with a shoulder injury. Texas recalled masher JASON BOTTS from AAA but never let him swing a bat before returning him in place of C.J. WILSON and his 8.78 ERA. Playing the unproven Botts in a playoff race would have been risky, but no more so than playing Matthews and Hidalgo every day. That is, of course, based on the assumption that the team is actually trying to win as opposed to showcasing replacement-level players to trade for C-level prospects. Anyway, I expect Botts to return sometime in August, and he might have value in AL-only leagues. Nix should return after the minimum 15-day waiting period.

Posted by Lucas at July 21, 2005 02:36 PM