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Fantasy Notes: Let the Beckham Era Begin

June 24, 2008 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

Last week, the Rays inked the top pick in this year’s draft, shortstop Tim Beckham, to a $6.15 million deal. Signing the number one overall pick is usually a fairly drawn out affair, so I was quite surprised to see how quickly negotiations wrapped here. Beckham, who we profiled in our Draft Report, will start his professional odyssey at Rookie level Princeton of the Appalachian League. He reported to the team a few days ago, and will work out this week before being activated shortly. Needless to say, this is one to watch, as regardless of whether he remains at short, Beckham looks like a future .300 hitter who could one day crank 25 or more homers per season.

Cole Hamels tossed his fourth straight quality start on Sunday, and although he wasn’t dominant, he gave up just six hits in seven innings and didn’t walk anyone. As we discussed last week, the slump is over after that blip late last month, and I’m expecting big things from Hamels going forward, assuming continued good health.

Coco Crisp is looking like a decent pickup in AL-only leagues right now, but do be aware that he’ll be serving some kind of suspension very shortly. The appeal for the original seven-game suspension was heard on Monday, so stay tuned for a report. In the meantime, Crisp has been hitting quite well of late, especially power-wise, with a triple and a homer in his last five games. In June, he’s batting .304 with three homers and five steals, clearly his finest month of the season. With Jacoby Ellsbury struggling – especially in recent games – this is a situation worth watching. Speaking of Ellsbury, I’m not liking the way his season is trending. I don’t know if that wrist is still bugging him or what, but his rookie season is starting to prove a bit disappointing, the huge stolen base total notwithstanding.

James Shields continues to disappoint recently. His last three starts have included two total stinkers and a decent – but hardly solid – outing. His ERA for June is an unsightly 7.63. The Rays have been cautious with his pitch counts, so I don’t think that’s the problem here, even though he has tossed three complete games – more than anyone in the AL not named Roy Halladay. While Shields has been slightly easier to hit this season, he’s offset that by being stingier with the long ball. The upshot? Assuming he’s healthy, expect a big turnaround soon. His last start may have been the first sign of an impending roll.

One of the factors in the Crisp-Ellsbury situation is David Ortiz. With Big Papi out, Manny Ramirez is handling the DH duties, leaving left field for Ellsbury, while Crisp mans center. Once Papi returns, could we have a position battle on our hands? Ortiz won’t even pick up a bat for about another week though, so this isn’t something we need to worry about right away.

Sean Casey has cooled off somewhat, and now that he’s back to sporadic duty off the bench, he’s no longer much of a fantasy option. Still, how valuable has that .365 BA with gap power been off the Boston bench? Have you noticed that Casey is batting .429 in June, having already seen more action this month than all of May? His worst hitting month of the year was April, when he hit “only” .353.

Brandon Moss was called up again a couple of weeks ago, but he’s struggled badly, and will surely be farmed out as soon as Papi is ready. Moss was impressive in brief April and May trials, but clearly, he needs more Triple-A time before he’s ready to be an extra outfielder in the majors. And at the age of 24, he needs to play every day.

No one expected Jorge Posada to duplicate his brilliant 2007 – especially at the age of 36, but damn, even with just one healthy shoulder, he’s enjoying another big season. Posada needs labrum surgery after the season, but for now he’s playing through pain and doing so in impressive fashion, batting .325 in June, even though he’s only been able to catch three games in a row once since his injury. Not surprisingly, his power is down, but not dramatically so. Posada has quietly put together a truly inspiring career, but he’s always been overshadowed by superstar teammates. It’s time to consider him one of the Yankee all-time greats.

Tad Iguchi (shoulder) could be back in two weeks and change. Don’t be left snoozing when it comes time to pluck him off the wire. By the way, too bad prospect Matt Antonelli was scuffling so badly in Triple-A when Iguchi went down. It would have been nice to see him get his chance. On the plus side, Antonelli is turning things around, batting .289 with five ribbies in the past ten games. On the downside, that only lifts his season BA to .189. Ugh. It’s going to be a long year in San Diego. By the way, why isn’t Craig Stansberry getting more of a look at second base? Right now, it’s all about Edgar Gonzalez, who has grabbed the job and run with it. I’d suggest making a claim for him in NL-only leagues if you need middle infield assistance.

Speaking of the Padres, when do we start the Bud Black death watch? San Diego is 9-11 in June and — disturbingly — this is the finest month of the year for the team so far.

Bad news for J.R. Towles owners. Getting farmed out hasn’t been much of a wake-up call. He’s been only marginally better at Triple-A (.209) than he was in the majors (.145). And unfortunately, he’s headed in the wrong direction, currently mired in an 0-for-12 slump. Oh, the hopes we had here.

Chipper Jones (quad) is feeling better, but count him out against the Brewers. Expect to see him DH starting Friday against the Jays. By the way, we were remiss in not congratulating Jones on reaching 400 career dingers earlier this month. Here’s a parade of some of Chipper’s victims: Josias Manzanill (first career), Kevin Tapani (No. 100), Darryl Kile (No. 200) and Sterling Hitchcock (No. 300). The 400th, by the way, came against the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco. Other factoids: Chipper is just the third player who has played at least 75 per cent of his games at third base to reach 400 career homers. The first two are Mike Schmidt and Eddie Matthews. He’s also the third switch hitter to swat 400, following Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray. Can we safely call Jones an all-time great now?

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