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July 16, 2006

ESPN Fantasy Column

Trade Blalock
Hank Blalock has posted solid fantasy numbers thus far, though his OBP of .343 and slugging percentage of .429 leave much to be desired. Unfortunately, he has declined in the second half of every season, and in 2004 and 2005 the deterioration was severe. Since 2004, Blalock has played exactly 162 games in the second half and is batting .234 with 76 runs, 18 homers and 77 RBI. Not a total loss, but certainly not what his owners expect. Perhaps 2006 is the year Blalock plots a different course, but probability suggests he won’t. Getting value in trade based on his first-half numbers would be a smart move.

Same Old
Who are you going to believe: Buck Showalter, or your lying eyes? During the All-Star Break, Mssr. Showalter stated that both Brad Wilkerson and Kevin Mench would play more often during the second half. Yet Wilkerson sat on the bench Saturday in favor of Jerry Hairston, and Kevin Mench is resting on Sunday. Until a string of lineups provides contrary evidence, assume that Wilkerson will continue to sit against lefties and Mench will rest every third game or so. As to whether either will hit to expectations… Wilkerson responded well Thursday to a cortisone shot for his sore shoulder, while Mench is one-for-eleven since the ASB. Much to my dismay, both have devolved into marginal plays in typical mixed leagues. But I’ve been very wrong about a great many things this season, so use my advice with extreme caution.

Eaton On Schedule
Adam Eaton could rejoin the rotation as soon as July 25th. I don’t expect much from a fantasy perspective. He spent his previous six seasons in extremely pitcher-friendly San Diego but has a career ERA of 4.34 and WHIP of 1.34. Other than the incentive of pitching for his next contract, nothing indicates that Eaton could surpass those modest numbers in the heat of Arlington. I wouldn’t touch him in a mixed league.

The Ranger rotation will consist of Eaton, Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, John Koronka, and one of John Rheinecker, John Wasdin, and Kameron Loe. I suspect Texas will use the hotter of Rheinecker and Wasdin. Millwood tired quickly but otherwise successfully overcame the strained biceps that cost him his last start.

Trade Winds
The Rangers could use a starting pitcher and another bat. GM Jon Daniels proved his boldness last offseason with the Soriano and Eaton trades, so a blockbuster acquisition isn’t out of the question. Having said that, I think it’s unlikely. Who, if anyone, the Rangers acquire will depend on how willing they are to relinquish one or more of their four pitching prospects (Edinson Volquez, John Danks, Tom Diamond and Eric Hurley). They don’t appear to be very willing. In any case, those in AL-only leagues should angle for the highest possible waiver position in order to acquire fresh talent from interleague trades. Volquez has pitched well in AAA lately and is an option to join the rotation (but a risky selection for fantasy ball).

No top-notch Ranger fantasy player is trade bait. I’d guess that Francisco Cordero and Kevin Mench are the most likely departures.

Posted by Lucas at July 16, 2006 01:46 PM