Today is RotoRob’s b-day (not the site, but the actual dude), so I’m going to keep things quick so I can head off and do b-day related stuff (like get hand-fed twinkies by scantilly clad young ladies). With this in mind, we’re going to offer up some brief fantasy notes to help you get your work week started.
- After sitting Sunday, Barry Bonds wound up taking an 0-for-6 with three walks this weekend in Milwaukee, so he’s still two dinger shy of tying Hank Aaron’s record. Is he pressing? Well, the two-homer game Thursday notwithstanding, Bonds is batting .136 since the break and has fanned a very un-Bonds-like five times in 22 at-bats. Keep in mind how strong he was after the break last season, but I’d wait until this mark is behind him before hitching a ride on his star. If you own him, keep your fingers crossed that he’ll break the mark on the seven-game homestand that starts tonight against the Braves and John Smoltz (who, with eight dingers served up to Bonds, is tied atop that leader board).
- Despite a loss Sunday that dropped them to 3.5 games back of Milwaukee, the Cubs are charging hard lately. One reason why is Ryan Theriot. Take another look at him; he’s hit in four straight games and is batting .364 with 14 runs in July. Not only does he bring some serious speed to the mix, but he qualifies at both short and second, and could be eligible at third base and outfield as well, depending on your league rules.
- Arizona is going to need to think about retaining Yusmeiro Petit in the rotation once Randy Johnson returns. After shutting out the Cubs for six innings, Petit has trimmed his ERA to 2.54 and has yet to give up more than three earned runs in any of his five starts. He looks like a way steadier play than Micah Owings right now. The D-Backs, by the way, sure needed that big series at Wrigley. Taking two of three from a hot Cubs club not only helped stopped the bleeding, but it gave Arizona its first series win on the road in over a month since sweeping the O’s in Charm City back in mid-June. Since then, they had gone 3-12 away from Chase Field before this Wrigley set. It’s pretty hard to stay in the race when almost half your games are throwaways.
- Is J.D. Durbin finally establishing himself as a major league pitcher? After his five-hit shutout over the Padres yesterday, Durbin has now limited opponents to 11 hits and just one run over 15 innings in his last two starts. He’s not striking out many (six) and he’s walked five, but if Durbin can keep the hit count down, he might have a chance to stick around. For now, watch and wait.
- Shane Victorino, who endured a mini slump at the end of June and beginning of this month, is rolling now. His 3-for-6, two-run, two-RBI performance yesterday, punctuated by a pair of doubles, helped Philly roll over San Diego. Victorino is on a serious tear now, batting .359 and slugging .590 in July thanks to five doubles, two triples and three homers. He’s scored 15 times, driven in nine and stolen 11 bases while showing a better batting eye (six walks, 11 strikeouts). We knew he’d be a valuable commodity this year because of his speed (and he’s not disappointing there with 30 steals already), but his developing pop has been a nice bonus. Batting out of the two-hole in a potent Phils’ attack has sure been sweet too, as it’s allowed Victorino to rack up 65 runs already, which has him closing in on a career high. The Phils, by the way, took three out of four in San Diego, to pull within a game and a half of the Braves in the East and knock the Padres out of first place in the West.
- Well, he’s probably not going to be up for very long, but Chip Ambres managed to play a role in the pennant races Sunday when his RBI single in the 10th inning gave the Mets the lead and ultimately the win over the Dodgers, 5-4. Ambres was called up to fill in while Damion Easley is on bereavement leave for the Mets, and in his first taste of the bigs since 2005, he delivered a key hit to help New York win its third in four tries against NL West-leading Los Angeles. The Mets now have a bit more breathing room – 3.5 games – over the Braves, while the Dodgers – thanks to the Padres slumping as well – are still sitting atop the NL West.
- Those of you who subscribe to the age 27 power spike theory and gambled on Austin Kearns in the 12th round must be hugely disappointed. Kearns played the hero yesterday with a three-run homer in a 3-0 win, but this kind of display has been sadly lacking this season. In fact, it was Kearns’ first long ball since May 21. And it’s not as if he’s helping you in BA either. A current 6-for-28 slump has him down to .224 in July – with a horrible .310 SLG percentage. What’s his dealio? Six homers in 98 games? Are you kidding me? Kearns’ ground ball rate is way up, his walk rate is way down, and his usefulness rate has dropped off the table. For once, he’s not battling injuries, but this would be the one season where we’d be relieved to find out he was hurt. At least it would explain why he’s been so crap.