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Fantasy Notes: Slammin’ J.D. Hurt Again

March 25, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

With the season getting underway (very) early this morning, let’s take a quick tour around the majors and see what’s going on.

  • J.D. Drew homered in back-to-back exhibition games, the second one a grand salami to help beat Hideki Okajima’s old team, the Yomiuri Giants. Then, when the game counted today, Drew hurt his back in BP and had to sit. Fantastic. Brandon Moss took Drew’s place and stroked a pair of hits, including a two-run jack. Quick! Everyone on the Moss bandwagon! He’s in the AL top ten in nine offensive categories.
  • Here come the Jays’ injuries again. Scott Rolen is now out indefinitely with a busted finger. Good thing the Jays acquired former A’s super sub Marco Scutaro. He’ll take over at the hot corner in Toronto for the next few weeks. The dude’s got a great batting eye, but doesn’t offer much in the way of extra-base pop, and isn’t exactly going to challenge for a batting title. Still, he could provide some use in a deeper AL-only league for the majority of April.
  • Sure, it was just backups he was facing, but Paul Maholm looked solid regardless, tossing six shutout innings of two-hit ball at the Yanks Monday. I’m expected Maholm to bounce back in 2008 after an off season. With an improved strikeout rate and a few better breaks, Maholm should be able to post an ERA in the mid 4.00s, with a win total in the low teens. There’s definite upside here, so you could do worse for a depth pick.
  • Rick VandenHurk is still in the running for a rotation spot in Florida (then again, so am I) after hurling four innings and giving up just four hits and two runs – one earned. It’s down to him or Ricky Nolasco for the final slot on the Marlins’ staff, and if the youngster VandenHurk can address his long ball issue, he’ll have a chance to be of some use.
  • Francisco Liriano is back, baby. He tossed four hitless innings Monday, fanning five and walking two. There had been some concern about Liriano’s performance this spring, and even talk that he’d have to start the year on the DL. He’s obviously healthy, but there’s still a high possibility that Liriano will get a bit of work in Triple-A to begin the season. Don’t fret; he won’t be there for long. If anyone in your league is getting antsy about Liriano’s rough spring, exploit the situation.
  • Speaking of pitchers working their way back from injury, how about Mike Hampton? He looked solid again Monday in six innings of work (two runs allowed). Hampton now has a sub-2.00 ERA this spring, making him a big time sleeper, albeit one that comes with a major risk attached. I think he needs to be on your radar now.
  • RotoRob writer Jordan Frank was talking about the back end of the Mets’ rotation the other day – with good reason. Did you see the carnage on Monday? Orlando Hernandez started, giving up four hits and five runs in three innings, but he looked downright ace-like compared to Mike Pelfrey, who was bitch slapped for eight runs and 13 hits in 4 1/3 frames. These two are battling for the No. 5 starter job, and the way they looked yesterday, it makes me wonder where Jeff D’Amico is when you need him. Of course, this was El Duque’s spring debut, so we’ll cut him a bit of slack, especially since he was actually pretty effective when healthy last year, for the most part. But it’s clear that Hernandez isn’t ready, and Pelfey doesn’t seem capable of grabbing the job and running with it. Jorge Sosa, anyone?
  • It’s official – Kerry Wood will close for the Cubs this year. The good news is he still looked strong (2 Ks in a shutout inning) in his third appearance in four days yesterday. The bad news it’s only March. Don’t give up on Carlos Marmol and Bobby Howry just yet.
  • Is this the season injury-prone Rickie Weeks finally breaks through in a big way? He came back yesterday after missing a few days with a hand injury and promptly showed he was healthy, mashing a three-run dinger. He’s struggled so far this spring, but if he can stay healthy enough to approach 500 at bats for once, I can see Weeks taking a legitimate run at a 30-30 season. However, I’m beginning to wonder if he’s ever going to hit for a high BA.
  • With both John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar slated to begin the season the DL, Dustin Moseley is looking like a decent early-season play. He enjoyed a solid year as a swingman last season, but is limited in value because of his low strikeout totals. This spring, however, he’s opening some eyes, tossing five goose eggs yesterday to help solidify his hold on a rotation spot.
  • Gary Matthews, Jr. homered yesterday, then promptly was forced out of action with an ankle sprain. He had trouble staying healthy last year, and if the HGH-less Matthews is going to suffer through more health woes this year, it’s good news for Juan Rivera, who also went yard Monday.
  • Despite a crappy spring, Joe Crede has beaten out Josh Fields for the third base job on the White Sox. With a single and a run on Monday, Crede must have convinced the team he was capable of handling the gig, but that doesn’t mean I’m sold on him from a fantasy perspective. I need to see some evidence that he still has power before recommending Crede again. In the meantime, poor Fields will have to start the year in the minors.
  • Ho hum, Michael Young just keeps raking. He slashed another three hits and drove in a run Monday, raising his spring BA to .300. Pencil him in for another 200 hits, but let’s hope an improved Ranger lineup means Young will manage more than the paltry 80 runs he scored last season.
  • Kip Wells has been removed from the fifth starter competition in Colorado, leaving the job up for grabs between Franklin Morales, Mark Redman and Josh Towers. Wells will start in the bullpen, but should get a crack at the rotation at some point. He had his moments in St. Louis last year, even upping his strikeout rates to their highest levels since 2004, when he was actually a replacement level starter.
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