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Circling the Bases: Jurrjens' Urgency

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.

Jason Bay, we hardly knew you. Bay was sent to the DL for a non-displaced fracture of a rib on the left side of his body (he suffered the injury on a dive Monday night). This type of injury is better than if he displaced a rib which may have required surgery to fix. However, the Mets will be without Bay for awhile. With Andres Torres nearing a return from the DL some relief could soon be forthcoming for the Mets, that is if Torres is the player he was two years ago when he was a borderline fantasy star (.268-16-63-84-26) versus the washed up piece of rubble he was last season (.221-4-19-50-19), but it also means that Scott Hairston and Kirk Nieuwenhuis could see a lot of work in the corners for the Mets, at least until Torres returns (though Kirk hasn't played left field in the minors).

Jair Jurrjens was sent to the minors after yet another failed outing with his roster spot going to Cody Gearrin. There's a good chance that Gearrin may lose his roster spot when Tim Hudson returns to action, potentially very soon, but Gearrin was tearing it up in the minors this year with 15 Ks and only two walks in 12.1 innings. He's always had an impressive power arm, but he's also often made Jonathan Sanchez look like a control artists (Gearrin walked 12 batters in 18.1 innings last season for the Braves). As for Jurrjens who heads to the minors with a 9.37 ERA, 2.45 WHIP and 0.80 K/BB ratio after a terrible spring, it remains to be seen when he will be recalled throwing his value, even in NL-only leagues, completely into a tailspin.

It's pretty obvious to me, but apparently not to others, so let me state it clearly. Cody Ross is hot right now, he has three homers in his last two outings and has five homers, 13 RBI and 11 runs scored through 15 games this season. However, he's only a short-term play in mixed leagues that aren't of the 15-team variety. Why? Many reasons. First, Ross just isn't that good. His career slash line of .262/.324/.459 is boring. Second, he's not at all effective against right-handed pitching in his career with a .253/.313/.419 slash line in almost 1,800 at-bats. In case you were wondering, the big league average for the 2011 season was a .255 average, .321 OBP an a .399 SLG. That's right. Ross is nothing more than league average against right-handed pitching. Third, and this might be the most significant issue he will have to deal with, where is he going to play when the outfield is healthy? When Carl Crawford returns, in roughly 10 or so days, he will play every day. Period. When Jacoby Ellsbury is back in 5-to-6 weeks he will play every day. Period. David Ortiz will play every day filling the DH spot. Period. That leaves one outfield spot for Ross, the newly acquired Marlon Byrd and the .400 hitting, that's right I said .400 hitting, Ryan Sweeney. So tell me, even if you're a Ross apologist, how in the world can you think he's going to be an every day player when he stops hitting home runs at this pace?

BY THE NUMBERS

.478: The batting average of Freddie Freeman last week as he had 11 hits in 23 at-bats to win the NL Player of the Week award. Hitting .195 on April 17th with only three RBI he has pushed his average up to .297 on the season while producing 12 RBI in his last six games. Sample size people. Remember it.

.241: The batting average of Jesus Montero of the Mariners. A lot is going on here. First off, it's only 54 at-bats. After hitting .328 last season in 61 at-bats he owns a .287 mark in 115 at-bats. We'll all take that. Second, he gone deep twice in his last seven games and has six RBI in those contests. Third, he's started four games at catcher this year getting perilously close to the five game in-season designation that so many leagues use for a player to pick up positional qualification. When that happens you'll be plenty glad you have Montero rostered given that his current pace, while seemingly modest, would still lead to 19 homers and 76 RBI over the course of a 162 game season. For reference, only three catchers hit both those marks last season: Alex Avila (19-82), Carlos Santana (27-79) and J.P. Arencibia (23-78).

.432: The AL leading batting average of Alex Rios over the past two weeks. It's been a pretty hollow effort, he has no homers, only one steals and just two runs scored the last 14 days, but after such a down effort last season it's still very heartening to see him starting off so well.

2.5: The lost mph off the fastball of Roy Halladay this April (90.0 mph) compared to what he average on his heater in April of 2010 (92.5). That is certainly something to think about, especially after the loss of gas that Halladay dealt with in spring, but this might be another example of everyone paying too much attention to the numbers instead of the results as Halladay is 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 0.90 WHIP through four starts. Still, he does have a 5.70 K/9 mark in the early going, almost three batters below his rate from last season, and the guy has thrown at least 220 innings in each of the past six seasons so it's fair to wonder if all those pitches are starting to catch up with the Phillies' ace.

3: The major league leading win total heading into action on Tuesday. Some of the names that have reached that total include Ricky Romero, Jered Weaver, Madison Bumgarner and Roy Halladay, but there are also names like Kyle Lohse, Bartolo Colon and Lance Lynn with three victories. However, the biggest shock is the inclusion of Robbie Ross of the Rangers. That's right. A middle reliever with 5.1 innings pitched has as many victories as Yovani Gallardo, Matt Garza and Tim Lincecum combined. Do you need any more proof as to why you can't chase wins in the fantasy game?

10: The number of RBIs that Ryan Doumit has in his last seven games, tied for third in the AL since April 16 (the only batters with more are Josh Hamilton with 12 and Adam Dunn with 11). Only four catchers have more ribbies than Doumit in the early going A.J. Pierzynski (15), Mike Napoli (13), Matt Wieters (12) and Yadier Molina (12). Since the start of last season, spanning a mere 267 at-bats, Doumit is batting .292 with nine homers and 42 RBI, a pace that would lead to, over 500 at-bats, a .292-17-79 line. How amazing would those numbers be if he actually reached those levels in 2012 considering that he was drafted to be a second catcher? Only one catcher in baseball hit all three levels in 2011 and that was Alex Avila (.295-19-82).

11: The all-time major league record for consecutive 30-homer seasons to start one's career, and that mark belongs to Albert Pujols. I bring this up, obviously, because Pujols has gone 16 games to start the season without a homer, the longest stretch of his HOF bound career to start a season. Amazingly though it's not the longest HR drought he's ever had. Pujols went 105 at-bats, over 27 games, in 2011 without a home run. He still finished last year 37 homers. Not only does his overall history speak to the oddness of his current run of futility, but recent history does as well given the fact that he led all AL players in spring training with seven homers an a .850 SLG. He'll obviously be fine. Stay the course.

16: I mentioned Pablo Sandoval's season opening hit streak last week in Circling the Bases. Well, here we are with the streak still going as Pablo has pushed the consecutive games he has produced a hit to 16. Not only is that the longest current streak in baseball, it also matches the San Francisco Giants all-time mark to open a season (previously held by Willie Mays). Sandoval, who is hitting .333 on the year, is two games away from the franchise record to start a season held by Johnny Rucker of the NY Giants who had an 18 gamer to open the 1945 season. Sandoval also trails his personal best streak of 22-straight games with a hit (last season from June 19th through July 30th).

86.7: The save conversion rate of Francisco Cordero since the start of last season (he was 37 for 43 last year and is 2-for-2 this year). Currently filling in for Sergio Santos who figures to miss at least three weeks because of shoulder issue (at least there is no structural damage), Cordero is a must add in virtually every league. Still, over his last 76 games he's posted a mere 5.56 K/9 mark and a sub par 1.92 K/BB ratio (the league averages have been 7.27 and 2.33). Of course there is more to getting batters out that strikeouts and walks, but it's just a subtle reminder that you shouldn't go all in on Cordero who could very easily cede the ninth inning job back to Santos as soon as the younger, harder throwing righty, you know the one with swing and miss stuff, is physically ready to go.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.