There were a lot of familiar names still residing on the free-agents list when the fantasy season opened, some of whom may even have been scooped as reserves in deeper AL- or NL-only rotisserie leagues. But finally, we can close the books on the Class of 2012. Vladimir Guerrero (Blue Jays) and Johnny Damon (Indians) were snapped up earlier. Magglio Ordonez retired this week, Manny Ramirez’s 50-game suspension ended (though the A’s are not ready to activate him) and Hideki Matsui homered in his first game after landing with the Rays. But the big news was the signing of Roy Oswalt by the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. The veteran righty went 9-10 for the Phillies last season, but his 3.69 ERA and 1.34 WHIP suggest he can still be plugged safely into any fantasy rotation. Pitching in Arlington — he was 2-5 with a 4.78 ERA in eight interleague starts there for the Astros — no doubt will push his numbers higher, but with that high-octane Texas offence behind him, Oswalt should be in line for 8-10 wins. When he is activated, after probably four triple-A starts, Oswalt will replace Scott Feldman, who was filling in for the injured Neftali Feliz, who is not expected to return to the rotation once healthy.
n Explaining Angels’ Ernesto Frieri’s sudden rise as one of baseball’s best RPs is rather simple. His unique delivery and late-breaking fastball miss a lot of bats but he has always had control problems. We’ll let him take it from here: “Before, I would try to hit the inside or outside corner. Now, I’m throwing it right down the middle and letting my natural movement take the ball to the corners,” he told the L.A. Times. “I’m not the kind of pitcher who can hit his spots because my ball moves so much.” The result is 13 hitless innings and 27 Ks since being aquired from the Padres in May. It looks like he is sharing the saves with Scott Downs at the moment, but we expect Frieri to nail down the gig before long.
n If you never bothered to replace SP Jason Marquis in your mixed-league pool after the Twins released him, hope has been rekindled. Picked up by the Padres earlier this week, he had a strong rehab outing in double-A on Tuesday and will likely wind up back in the majors at some point. And getting back to the NL and a pitchers park in San Diego could actually give him some value again.
n White Sox 2B Gordon Beckham was not high on anyone’s pre-season rankings. And when he hit only .153 in April with two measly RBIs, that looked like the right call. Now, maybe not. Beckham has found his game in a big way, hitting .291 since May 1 with all seven of his HRs and 15 RBIs. This looks more like the Gordon Beckham with all that promise as a rookie in 2009 and we wouldn’t bet against him keeping it up.
n Braves SP Mike Minor hasn’t had much go right for him lately, but an ungodly strand rate of 56% has played a key role in his 9.95 ERA the past month.
n Closing Time: The Mariners, for now, have relieved Brandon League of his ninth-inning slot. Tom Wilhelmsen, despite cooling off after a hot April, will get first crack at the job … James Russell, Shawn Camp and even Casey Coleman reportedly will share the job for the Cubs with Rafael Dolis demoted.
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Injured slugger may have been ignored on draft day in mixed leagues. But after going 8-for-16 with 3 HRs in his first four games this week, he won’t be for long. Quentin won’t keep this up, but he has enough pop, even for Petco, to help out any fantasy lineup.
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Tribe’s 3B of the future gets a second chance to establish himself with Hannahan on the DL. And going 5-for-13 with 2 HRs and a steal is a great start.
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With Kemp back on the DL, he could make an impact if he can carry over his hot triple-A start (.379, 5 HRs, 9 SBs in 22 games) into his major-league debut. Opportunity is there for regular ABs at 2B with Herrera sliding into CF.
Late cut didn’t get the expected callup as the Halos’ fifth starter, but has the chance now with Weaver on the DL. Triple-A numbers were only average and he can walk a few too many, but has a good arm and great bats behind him.
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It was only a matter of time before top prospect replaced the recently re-signed Hundley. Was hitting .317 in the minors with 4 HRs and could be nice sleeper pick at an overall weak position.
Emilio Bonifacio’s sprained thumb actually needs surgery, pushing back his return to around July 1 … Barring a setback, Evan Longoria (hamstring) could begin a minors rehab by June 15 … Expect Matt Kemp (groin) to be out longer this time than the prescribed 15 days, perhaps even a month ... Stephen Drew (ankle) finally begins rehab games on Sunday … Carlos Santana (concussion) will likely be back this coming week … Ryan Braun is day-to-day with a strained hip ... ... The Tigers should have Austin Jackson back at some point this week … Expect Vance Worley back in the Phils rotation this week, pitching through a bone chip in his elbow … Pablo Sandoval (hand) is set to begin a minor-league rehab ... John Danks (shoulder) returns to the Chisox rotation any day.