Fantasy Fare: Ethier's lost power
By Joel Colomby, QMI Agency
|Andre Ethier's early on-base success has messed up his power mechanics. (Getty Images)
It’s midseason and Andre Ethier owners are justified in wondering if he will ever get back his power stroke.
Well, he is working on it. Apparently, the Dodgers OF concedes that, when he began the season hitting safely in 33 of his first 35 games, he fell into some mechanical bad habits at the plate. Concentrating more on his on-base percentage, he was simply trying to “flip” the ball into open spaces rather than driving it hard somewhere. However, manager Joe Torre reminded him that he was a middle-of-the-order hitter and not a leadoff man and that, until he broke his finger a year ago May, Ethier was a challenger for hitting’s Triple Crown. So, Ethier has gone back to basics but is finding the transition a little more difficult than expected. A good sign is that, since May 28, he has lashed out 10 doubles (in the four weeks prior to that, he didn’t have even one two-bagger). Unfortunately, according to BaseballHQ figures, his rate of hitting fly balls -- which was at 42% in his 31-HR season two years ago -- is well down around the 30% range this season. Right now, it’s all in his head, and he knows it. But Ethier is too good a hitter not to bounce back.
-- It’s hard to figure out what is going on with Red Sox SP John Lackey’s elbow. He comes off the disabled list early in June and, despite going 3-1, turns in a lopsided 6.26 ERA in his first four starts and admits the elbow is still not quite right. That prompts ESPN’s Pete Gammons to suggest Tommy John surgery could be in the veteran righty’s future. Lackey angrily refutes that, then goes an efficient 7.2 innings in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies on Wednesday. Lackey’s 6.81 ERA for the season means he is probably not active in many leagues, but this latest turn of events has to have his owners wondering which way to go with him. So, you don’t have much to lose by seeing how he does his next start or two. But if someone is offering him up in a trade, stay away. Despite the recent quality start, his 32-year-old elbow may be on borrowed time.
-- A month ago, the Rockies had plenty of viable, though unspectacular, 2B options. But, one by one, Jonathan Herrera, Eric Young Jr., and Chris Nelson fell by the wayside -- batting a collective .189 in June -- prompting the trade this past week for Mark Ellis. The former A’s starter, who lost his job to rookie Jemile Weeks, is nothing spectacular himself. He doesn’t have Young’s wheels or Nelson’s power but, getting out of Oakland’s pitchers park, he should be able to get on base often enough to hold on to the starting 2B job, hit the occasional HR swipe a bag or three. And his Rox debut on Friday -- 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs -- means he you’ll probably have to add on a few bucks to your bid.
-- Mixed league owners in need of some speed need only check the list of available players where a trio of basepath burners are owned in less than 5% of Yahoo! pools. Chris Getz (5%), who became the Royals’ everyday 2B early last month, has 14 steals this year and six in his past 14 games. That .323 average doesn’t hurt, either. Emilio Bonifacio (3%) of the Marlins has four of his eight bags in his past nine starts and has the bonus of qualifying in the OF as well as the CI and MI slots. And Tony Gwynn Jr., (1%) may be in and out of the Dodgers lineup but has four SBs in his past seven games.
-- A’s Hideki Matsui missed qualifying for the outfield in most fantasy leagues last season by just two games. However, thanks to interleague play, Josh Willingham’s injury and a new manager bent on keeping his hot-and-cold bat in the lineup, Matsui started five of six games in LF during games in NL parks and is no longer locked into the DH hole. By the way, that was Godzilla’s first steal in four years on Friday.
-- David Hernandez gets the closing chores in ’Zona while J.J. Putz nurses a sore elbow. The club is hoping Putz is ready after the all-star break on July 14, but a more likely scenario is the end of the month.
Sometimes it’s the silliest little things that can make a difference. Rays 3B Evan Longoria, who had gone hitless in six of his nine previous starts, got rid of his batting gloves before the series at Houston last weekend and has since gone 11-for-28 with four HRs and 14 RBIs. He said he’ll continue to go gloveless until it’s not working any more.
Zack Greinke MILW
5-0 4.26 2-3, 7.77
HOT AND NOT
(Hitters the past two weeks)
Ty Wigginton COL
.283, 7 HRs, 13 RBIs
J.J. Hardy BALT
.321, 4 HRs
Josh Reddick BOS
A.J. Pierzynski CHW
.421, 9 RBIs
- - - - - -
Ian Desmond WAS
3-for-34, 1 RBI
Chris Iannetta COL
3-for-28, 1 HR, 1 SB
TRAINER’S ROOM TICKER
That original projection of 4-6 weeks off for Albert Pujols (arm) will likely be closer to 6-8 weeks … Josh Johnson (shoulder) is now looking at a July 16 return … Jason Kubel re-injured his foot playing in a class-A rehab game. No word on the setback’s severity … A day after wrapping up yet another strong, but winless start, Erik Bedard landed on the DL with a twisted knee … Derek Jeter’s Monday return may be delayed a couple of days … The Dodgers expect Rafael Furcal back Sunday … Chipper Jones is back but admits his knee is still sore … Torii Hunter had X-rays on his hand after being hit by a pitch on Friday … Cole Hamels, who took a ball off his right hand on Thursday, is expected to make Tuesday's start … Orlando Hudson may miss another game or two with a bruised shin … If Johan Santana pitches in 2011, it won’t be until mid-August.
With fantasy rating out of 5
* * * *
The power-hitting left-hander batted only .200 against southpaws in triple-A before his callup but it should be only a matter of time before he has that figured out. He’ll likely give way to Jack Hannahan against most lefties, but all he needs is a respectable showing and the job should be his for the next several years.
* * *
Not a notably toolsy player -- which may limit his upside -- young lefty made consistent contact in triple-A (.336), flashing enough power and speed (8 HRs, 18 SBs) to earn his callup, then went 3-for-11 with a homer and a steal in the Jays series. Jose Tabata’s return looms but, given the Bucs’ flimsy situation in RF, the playing-time door is open if he can take advantage.
* * *
Out all season following shoulder surgery, veteran righty went six strong IPs with six Ks and zero walks in his 2011 debut on Friday. He’s reliable, bordering on brilliant at times, but injuries have laid him up for long stretches in four of the past six years.
Might have been returned to triple-A by now, but that 4-for-4 with a HR against the Twins on June 27 extended his stay and piqued fantasy interest. However, the 28-year-old has started just one game since and, not being regarded as a top prospect, will have limited chances to work his way into the muddled LF mix.