Iím not sure if Joe Torre follows baseball all that closely. Forget the fact heís playing the supremely inferior Juan Pierre over Matt Kemp, but why does Andre Ethier get automatically penciled into the lineup over Kemp as well? Sure, heís better than Pierre and the current incarnation of Andruw Jones, but Ethierís got a career OPS of .820 and was the inferior prospect to begin with. I just donít get whatís going on in L.A.
Donít look now, but Ervin Santana might be figuring things out. Heís off to a fine start, but even more encouraging is his work on the road, where he has posted a 9:3 K:BB ratio with a 1.08 WHIP in two outings, including one at hitter-friendly Ameriquest Field. Remember, he did record a 2.96 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 30 strikeouts over 27.1 innings during the final month of last season. Santana has to be owned in all fantasy leagues.
Since May ended last year, Chone Figgins is batting .379 with 43 steals. Heís also walking at a far greater rate so far this season, which is good news for his future stolen base totals. Despite offering very little in the power department, heís a top-30 fantasy player.
Sticking with the Halos, Casey Kotchman currently looks like an All-Star. Heís a terrific defender, can hit both lefties and righties and has struck out a miniscule three times during his first 54 at-bats this year. While his upside was once considered limited because of his lack of power, Kotchman has already clobbered four homers and is slugging over .600. If he can stay healthy, heíll finish the year as a sure-fire top-10 fantasy first baseman.
If you own Tony Pena waiting for the inevitable Brandon Lyon implosion, might as well make the switch to Chad Qualls if possible. His 8:6 K:BB ratio is ugly, but while both Lyon and Pena sport ERAs north of 7.0, Qualls has yet to allow a single run this season. Heís been a pretty effective pitcher throughout his career.
Hunter Pence looks lost at the plate right now. Fourteen strikeouts in 52 at-bats wonít get it done. Heís sure to turn it around but hitting sixth in Houstonís lineup only allows for so much fantasy value. Pence has now gone without a homer in his last 68 at-bats.
Rickie Weeks is hitting .213 on the season, but entering Tuesday night, he was on pace to finish the year with 41 homers and 54 steals with 176 runs scored. Imagine if he upped his average to the .225-.230 range!
Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard and David Ortiz are hitting a combined .171 (24-for-140) entering Tuesday. Itís hard not to make a connection to slow starts and body type here, but maybe thereís nothing to it.
Tickets to a Giants game: $33
Polish dog, garlic fries and a beer: $20.75
Brian Sabean: Worthless
I was pretty aggressive with my FAAB this week on guys like Hong-Chih Kuo, Todd Wellemeyer and John Bowker. Patience is a virtue I apparently donít posses, but I figure itís better to overspend in April than to do it in August. Of course, itís all in context, as these specific leagues are extremely deep Ė either an 18-team format where nearly all prospects are taken or an NL-only league.
Kuoís stuff isnít quite the same after two major arm surgeries, and heíll probably be hurt by the time May rolls around, but anyone pitching in the NL West with a career 10.2 K/9 IP mark needs to be gambled on.
Wellemeyer, meanwhile, is flashing improved command and has struck out 7.9 batters per nine innings since coming to St. Louis last season. And if not for a hideous scoring change ruling a glaring error a hit three innings after the fact, his ERA would currently sit at 2.0 for the season, and thatís likely to improve with the Giants next up on the schedule.
Speaking of the Giants, Bowker has to be added in cavernous deep NL-only leagues. He hit .307 with 22 HRs and 90 RBI in a pitcher-friendly environment last year in Double-A and is second on the Giants in both home runs and RBI after playing two games for them. Thereís currently not a starting spot open for Bowker, but between a banged up Aaron Rowand, middling options like Randy Winn and Fred Lewis and the fact heís learning to play first base as well, Bowker could make an impact.