Ed. Note: Stanley Gibson works in the front office of a major league organization. He gets the notes produced by each team's Media Relations Department every day, and will parse through them on a daily basis for a few interesting tidbits. We start today with the AL East.
AL EAST NOTES (7/30/08)
*The Orioles are swapping Dennis Sarfate and Brian Burres. The only real news here is that Sarfate could be pretty decent as a starter. He is 4-1 with a 3.78 ERA and a .202 opponents batting average. He also averages a strikeout an inning (52 K's in 50.1 innings). Give him a couple of starts to see how he fares and he could be worth a look in deeper leagues.
*Fun Fact: Kevin Millar hit his fifth homer against the Yankees on Monday, that's the most one opponent has hit off the Yankees this year.
*If you have an Oriole starter not named Jeremy Guthrie you are probably licking some wounds. Until the last two starts from Garrett Olson (Sunday) and Guthrie (Monday), the Birds had a starter go seven-plus innings just once in the last 22 games. The only exception: Guthrie on July 10th against Toronto. Since Daniel Cabrera's complete game on July 2nd, Baltimore starters have a 7.11 ERA over 22 games.
*Speaking of Daniel Cabrera, if he could just get off to a better start, things would be a little easier on him. He has allowed a run in the first inning in 12 of his 22 starts.
*I am a firm believer in a truly good hitter being able to come through when he is needed most (with RISP) and being able to hit with two outs. Melvin Mora is doing both. He his hitting .370 (34-for-92) with RISP and .357 (15-for-42) with RISP and two outs.
*Another sign of a successful hitter, especially left-handed hitters is their ability to hit southpaws. Nick Markakis is hitting .317 with a .956 OPS against left-handers. This is up from .286/.711 in '06 and .274/.775 last year. If you were worried about his after he was hitting .247 on May 25 but stuck with him, you are reaping the benefits as he has posted a .322 with 41 runs, 25 doubles, seven homers and 33 RBI since then. His average has raised all the way to .290. If you gave up on him…shame on you.
*Are you in need of a catcher? Check out Ramon Hernandez. He has hit in nine of his last ten games (.375) with three doubles, four homers and eight RBI. Ride him while he is hot.
*There is a reason the O's aren't viewed as a push-over in this division. Take a look at Adam Jones. Look at these numbers his last 27 games (before Tuesday): .336 average, two doubles, four triples, three homers and 20 RBI. AND in his last 50 contests he is hitting .313 (60-for-192) with seven doubles, four triples, five homers, 31 runs and 31RBI raising his average from .245 on May 31st to .280 now.
Boston Red Sox
*Dustin Pedroia has been really good recently if you haven't noticed. He actually reached base safely in 29 straight games before being blanked on Monday night. He broke up John Lackey's no-hit bid in the ninth inning last night.
*Despite all the talk about Manny Ramirez wanting out of Boston, he has been stroking it. In his last 15 games, he has hit safely in 13 of them and gone 24-for-56 (.429) during that stretch and got his batting average up over .300 this season.
New York Yankees
*The wait is over. Johnny Damon hit his first home run since May 27th effectively snapping a 156 at-bat draught. He is still hitting .315 and can swipe a bag once in a while, but his fantasy value is sapped when he isn't putting up at least the occasional extra-base hit.
*Xavier Nady hit his first home run in pinstripes on Monday after starting his Yankee career 0-for-8. He was given the day off on Tuesday as he gets his bearings in a new league. He did pinch hit in the eighth inning and struck out looking. Don't fret. He'll be just fine.
*Pedroia isn't the only hot second basemen in the AL East. Robinson Cano who had a disappointing first half of the season, is 20-for-48 (.417) in the first 11 games since the All-Star break. The Elias Sports Bureau provides a nice statistic that nobody would've been able to find on their own: Cano actually became just the fourth player EVER to collect at least 18 hits and 10 RBI in his team's first eight games after the break.
*Here is a worthy stat to consider for the stretch run in fantasy leagues: Cano, since his 2005 debut, ranks second in MLB with a .339 post-All-Star break batting average. The only guy better during that span: Albert Pujols. Buy.
*DYK: Mariano Rivera is 26-for-26 in save opportunities. Only Mike Gonzalez has a longer active streak at 34, and since 2000 only J.J. Putz has converted more save chances without blowing one to start a season. Putz got to 29 last year.
*You will see this common theme in these notes throughout the season. Bobby Abreu leads the MLB in batting average with RISP and two-outs (.452) and he ranks fourth of all players with 54 two-strike hits. A sure-fire sign that the guy is locked in. He was 3-for-5 last night as well.
Tampa Bay Rays
*Not too much going on with the Rays other than the fact that they are still in first place and picked up a game on the Yanks and Sox via a complete-game shutout from Matt Garza last night. Oh, and that Evan Longoria is a lock to win the AL Rookie of the Year award.
* "Longo" leads all rookies (both leagues) with 19 jacks, just two shy of the Rays' rookie record set by Jonny Gomes in 2005. He leads in other categories as well, including slugging (.530), extra-base hits (46), road average (.313) and total bases (181). He also is 2nd in RBI behind Texas' David Murphy.
*DYK: If Longoria can keep up his .525 slugging percentage he would rank 6th best in that category by an AL rookie since 1980.
Toronto Blue Jays
*Adam Lind is probably available in your league. He was just picked up in my 16-teamer and it appears to be a good time to jump on the Lind-train. In July his is hitting .388 (31-for-80) with nine doubles, a triple, three homers and 17 batted in. Grab him if in need of some OF depth.
*DYK: How often do you think back-to-back triples occur? Well, Brad Wilkerson and Joe Inglett achieved the feat on Monday. Would you think that the Jays actually accomplished the same feat when Frank Menechino and Orlando Hudson did it July 1st, 2004 against the same team (Rays)? Well, there it is.
*Blue Jays GM J.P. Riccardi said that the team is not trading A.J. Burnett – and neither should you. His strikeout totals are piling up and his health is there (for now). He recorded 10+ strikeouts for the fourth time this season on Monday. That ties him with Tim Lincecum, Edison Volquez and Rich Harden for second in the Majors. Only C.C. Sabathia has more (6). You want to keep going? OK, how about the last two seasons, Burnett has nine 10+ K games, only Jake Peavy has more with 11. Oh yeah, he leads the AL with 149 invitations back to the dugout.