Showing Chone the Door
The youth movement is on this week, with guys like Jemile Weeks and Chris Heisey becoming bigger parts of their respective lineups while an aging Chone Figgins has fallen to the fantasy wayside. We also get a long-awaited call-up from a former first-round pick in Cleveland.
Let's line 'em up ...
Chone Figgins will continue to lose playing time to Adam Kennedy at third base, according to Mariners' manager Eric Wedge. It's been an atrocious season for Figgins, who has batted .188 with 21 runs scored and an OPS below .500 entering Sunday. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel either, as he is currently on a five-game hitless streak. Even when he does play, he has batted eighth or ninth in a weak Seattle lineup that doesn't provide much upside for scoring opportunities no matter the order. He doesn't hit for power, plays in a bad lineup, doesn't play every day, and has been caught stealing six times on 14 opportunities, so what is he giving you for fantasy? Drop him immediately in mixed leagues if you haven't already and strongly consider it in all others.
Jemile Weeks has been the Athletics' starting second baseman in the absence of Mark Ellis and thriving as the team's leadoff hitter. Over 18 games in the majors he has batted .309 with three triples, five doubles, and six stolen bases. He has been great for those who were perceptive (or crazy) enough to pick him up and start him, but now with Ellis coming back this week it puts Weeks' playing time in question. Looking at Ellis' performance up to this point (.544 OPS) you would think the team would be nuts to play him over Weeks, but Weeks still has room to grow and a six million dollar salary is hard to let rot on the bench. The best case scenario is that Ellis gets traded (Ed Note: Naturally, the A's obliged by trading Ellis to Colorado.).
Will Venable finds himself atop the Padres lineup with some hot play as of late. He is batting .333 this month with two stolen bases and even hit his first home run of the season last week. He has been notoriously streaky his entire career and this season is no different, as things got so bad he even spent some time in the minors in late-May through early-June. The time clearly did him good as he appears to be out of the slump and worth a look in deeper mixed leagues in case he can knock some more home runs while maintaining the speed that makes him so valuable, especially at the top of the lineup.
Chris Heisey has been carving out some time at the top of the Reds lineup despite Dusty Baker's inane love-affair with Jonny Gomes. Heisey has started a majority of the team's games during interleague play primarily at left field but has been more than a capable defender at all outfield positions. Hopefully this (and his three-homer outburst on June 22) will convince Baker that he deserves to play over Gomes and Fred Lewis when the normal schedule resumes, but of course there is no guarantee. It would be wise to hold onto him in NL-only leagues and deep mixed leaguers should take a cautious wait-and-see approach here until we see a firm change of heart from the Reds' manager.
Finally, we have a Lonnie Chisenhall sighting in Cleveland. He got his first start on Tuesday at third base, batting seventh. He provides little if any speed value but should give owners some power, having hit seven home runs and driven in 44 RBI in 65 games at Triple-A Columbus. With Jack Hannahan having lost his luster, the 2008 number one pick figures to lock down the third base spot for the rest of the season, making him an intriguing option in AL-only leagues.