August 25, 2012
Fantasy fare: PEDs, more to come?
By JOEL COLOMBY, QMI Agency
First, Melky Cabrera. Now, Bartolo Colon has been caught by Major League Baseball for using a performance-enhancing drug, the mandatory 50-game suspension ending what seemed like an unusually strong season for a declining 39-year-old pitcher. Given his numbers (10-9, 3.43 ERA) and the cheap price tag likely attached to him in most fantasy leagues, Colon was a bang-for-the-buck fantasy gem, who will be difficult to replace. But what keeps gnawing at me is the notion that Cabrera and Colon may be only the tip of this latest PED iceberg. That maybe Victor Conte was right when he told USA Today recently that synthetic testosterone is still rampant in baseball and routinely missed because of a loophole in the testing procedure. You look at the way Cabrera and Colon essentially shrugged off the suspensions in their public apologies and wonder if they figure this was merely the price of doing business. And then you start to look at other aging players having stronger than expected seasons — Derek Jeter was subsequently called out on ESPN’s First Take program — and wonder: Who is next?
n Wow! Doesn’t that lopsided Dodgers-Red Sox trade — which was expected to be finalized this weekend — sound like something that happens only in fantasy leagues? You know, where one team gets the three best and most expensive players — in this case, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and an injured Carl Crawford — while the other gets the futures? Consider this deal an evening of the score in a 2012 trade season that was heavily weighted in favour of AL-only leagues. Gonzalez should definitely be a difference-maker as a stretch-drive pickup in NL-only pools, batting .344 since July 1 with nine HRs and 43 RBIs. Meanwhile, Beckett — the poster boy for this season’s Fenway follies — has shown only flashes of his usual self in going 5-11, 5.23 and we’d think would benefit from a fresh start.
n The contending A’s are doing a late overhaul of their middle infield, demoting starting 2B Jemile Weeks to triple-A on Tuesday, then acquiring SS Stephen Drew from the Diamondbacks two days later. Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales will split the 2B chores, at least until Weeks returns on Sept. 1. Drew, meanwhile, offers a little hope for AL-only owners looking for an upgrade in the middle infield. Yes, he was hitting just .193 when dealt, but his 24% hit rate was well below the MLB average and, of course, he does have a history of power with 21 homers for Arizona in 2008.
n Troy Tulowitzki is one to two weeks from finally returning from his groin injury. But rookie Josh Rutledge, who has hit .336 with six HRs and four steals in 35 games, won’t be the odd man out. He reportedly will move over to second base and send the hot-hitting D.J. LeMahieu to the bench.
n Shades of Willie Mays Hayes! This won’t help anyone unless the Reds make him a September callup, but Billy Hamilton of double-A Pensacola stole his 148th base of the season on Thursday after surpassing the minor-league record of 144, set by Vince Coleman in 1983, one night earlier. Maybe just shocking however, is that Hamilton, who has split the season between high-A and double-A, has actually been caught stealing 34 times. Keep an eye on the Cincinnati callups Sept. 1. He might be one.
DeWayne Wise - OF, White Sox
Journeyman, discarded recently by the Yankees, resurfaced in Chicago and is leading off against RHPs with Alejandro de Aza sidelined, batting .318 with 3 HRs and 2 SBs since arriving. Wish now I’d hung on to him for $1.
Brett Anderson - SP, Athletics
Pitched a gem Tuesday in his first start since elbow surgery nearly 15 months ago. He’ll be stashed away AL keeper leagues, but is worth grabbing in mixed pools if still available. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do finally with a little run support.
Colin McHugh - SP, Mets
Seven shutout IPs in his first career start on Thursday are enticing, but beware that he had long since passed his career high in innings at double-A and may pitch mostly in relief the rest of the way.
Tyler Skaggs - SP, Diamondbacks
After posting sub-3.00 ERAs in double- and triple-A, he won his major-league debut in a spot start on Wednesday — the two ERs he allowed in 6.2 IPs tempered by five walks. Top prospect will stick around but also likely in relief.
Phillippe Aumont - RP, Phillies
A teammate’s paternity leave gives NL-only owners an opportunity to grab a potential closer on the cheap. Just don’t expect much right away.
This is the time when some teams wait until rosters expand in September to bring back the wounded. This should be the case with Joey Votto (knee) and Troy Tulowitzki (groin) … Albert Pujols exited Wednesday’s game with a tight calf muscle, which was still too sore to play on Friday. It is not believed to be serious … Johan Santana has been shut down for 2012 with a sore back … The sprained ankle Dexter Fowler suffered Wednesday does not appear severe enough to DL him … Doug Fister missed Saturday’s start with a sore groin … Michael Cuddyer (ribs) may not make it back this year … Josh Willingham sat out Friday with a stiff neck … Bartolo Colon’s suspension may force A.J. Griffin (shoulder) back from his rehab stint early … Chad Billingsley’s elbow is acting up again.
HOT AND NOT
Hitters, the past two weeks
Ryan Ludwick CIN
.306, 5 HRs, 10 RBIs
Yadier Molina STL
.516, 1.325 OPS, 7 RBIs
Rajai Davis TOR
.241, 8 SBs, 7 RBIs
Robinson Cano NYY
.154, 1 HR, 2 RBIs
Dan Uggla ATL
.133, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs
Adam Dunn CHW
Home/Away: 16 HRs/22 HRs
U.S. Cellular Field is the most homer-friendly park in the AL this season.
All of this PED talk reminds me of how I very reluctantly took Ryan Braun seventh overall in my mixed-league draft, thinking that his own positive (later overturned) test late last year would impact his 2012 output. With 34 HRs and 20 bags, it all worked out well, though we can’t help but wonder.