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September 13, 2005

ESPN Column

Seven’s A Crowd
After Wednesday, Texas finishes the season inside the AL West with seven games against Seattle, six against LA and three against Oakland. None of these teams has an above-average offense (relative to their home parks) and none plays in a hitter-friendly stadium (The Ballpark is very hitter-friendly, of course). So, the matter at hand is who the heck is in the rotation. CHRIS YOUNG left his last start after just one inning in which he topped out at about 85 mph. He’s not injured as far as anyone knows, but Texas didn’t want to risk disaster, and they may shut him down for the duration. Certainly, he no longer belongs in an ESPN mixed league, and those in AL-only leagues need to find help where they can.

KENNY ROGERS will continue to start and ought to provide adequate if uninspiring support in AL-only leagues and larger mixed leagues. KAMERON LOE finally took a beating after three excellent starts. Loe’s performance as a starter is oddly reminiscent of the departed Ryan Drese: very few strikeouts and an exceptionally low (lucky?) hit rate on balls in play. JUAN DOMINGUEZ likewise faltered after three consecutive strong outings. He does have the stuff to get more strikeouts, though the results haven’t shown it lately. Both Loe and Dominguez are risky but potentially worthwhile selections for AL-only owners in need of pitching. The rest – young EDISON VOLQUEZ, R.A. DICKEY, and potentially JOSH RUPE – won’t help anybody.

September Call-Ups Have Little Impact
Texas has recalled catcher GERALD LAIRD, outfielder JASON BOTTS and infielders MARSHALL MCDOUGALL and ESTEBAN GERMAN since September 1st. Only Laird has played, starting five of twelve games this month while ROD BARAJAS has started six and SANDY ALOMAR just one. Laird and Barajas have alternated starts during the last eight games. I expect this arrangement to continue, although Laird might nab a little more time toward the very end. Job-sharing is the bane of the fantasy owner, so check those free-agent pools. At this stage of the season, with the eliminated teams doling out at-bats among so many players, you might just have to stick with Barajas.

Botts may supplant MARK DEROSA in right field or PHIL NEVIN at DH against lefties. Or, Texas might just let him draw the Major-League minimum as an observer. Texas faces a lefty on Wednesday, so take a gander at who starts. McDougall and German couldn’t gets fewer at-bats if they were dead, so don’t bother.

So The Rich Get Richer
The relative stasis is good news to owners of most Ranger position players. Texas didn’t recall prospect Ian Kinsler, so ALFONSO SORIANO won’t miss more than a game or two the rest of the way. The same applies to MARK TEIXEIRA, MICHAEL YOUNG and HANK BLALOCK. Blalock’s post-All-Star swoon continues unabated, but until the last week or so his fantasy stats were at least palatable. Lately, not so much. Blalock did hit his first homer in over a month Tuesday night. Keep him in your lineup and hope for the best. Outfielders KEVIN MENCH and GARY MATTHEWS will play every day, while DAVID DELLUCCI and ADRIAN GONZALEZ will start only against righties. Dellucci is useful in larger ESPN mixed leagues, while Gonzalez doesn’t quite make the cut.

Posted by Lucas at September 13, 2005 11:55 PM