Cabbie Fantasy Tips Of The Week
With the Solstice having just passed, Summer is officially underway. Just as our days will now slowly become hotter, so will our Fantasy Baseball pennant races. It is time for reflection on the growth of our season, a time to renew our rosters, and a time to take chances. Since our days are only getting shorter, I beg of you not to become a Fantasy Wuss! Hit the Wire hard and drop the dead weight as if you were bottom fishing for a living.
The Turtle And The Hare
Before we overhaul our teams, or finally cut ties with our inflated expectations of disappointing draft picks, we must proceed with due diligence. This requires some honest inventory taking. So, my first piece of advice is to BEWARE of the second half ballplayer!
The weak links that might have led your team into a June swoon could provide the Summer boon you have been seeking. Think twice before you decide to keep hot-streak players like Jamey Carroll and Chris Burke over consumate Post-All Star studs like Aubrey Huff and Richie Sexson. Relish the rewards you have received thus far from rookie sweethearts like Casey Jannsen and Rickey Nolasco, but go easy on the trigger finger before you choose to drop the likes of Andy Pettitte or Doug Davis in their favor. As the temperature rises, so do the values of many career slow starters.
Now on the flip side, there are many young guns who will get a golden opportunity come July. Though hardly seen, some of these unproven gems are ready to shine. You’ll want to take particular note of the young pitchers being called up who most major league hitters have never faced. Hurlers usually have a substantial advantage the first go ’round the league. Here are four that should be on your watch list. Remember, even if they are no longer on your Wire, they can probably still be acquired through trade for a very modest price.
Jared "send my brother to the pen pleaaaase!" Weaver shall certainly return to grace the Halo’s rotation, it’s just a matter of logistics. Once the Angels figure out that brother Jeff Weaver has no trade value, or at the first sign of injury, expect Jared to become one of the most effective Fantasy starters in the American League. So, don’t be afraid to stash him on your bench if some antsy owner dropped him in your league.
Anthony Reyes is most likely gone in your league after his superb one-hit effort against the ChiSox last week, but if by chance he remains on the Wire in ultra-conservative leagues, GRAB HIM NOW! Reyes has that rare ingredient that so many young pitchers lack, an effective change-up. Like Francisco Liriano, he is able to throw it consistently for strikes, has very little motion deviation in his delivery and is not afraid to throw it when behind in the count, which he rarely is.
Here’s a player for you that could very easily still be unclaimed because of his rocky beginning and
the fact that he pitches for the underrated Florida Marlins- Scott Olson. If you have any doubt, please watch him pitch. Olson is very reminiscient of another young dominant lefty named Scott who pitches in the state of Florida- Scott Kazmir. With his mitt held high and a less violent delivery than Kazmir, Olson has been on a roll this past month winning four of his last five starts, all quality if not dominant performances. In this stretch, he has sawed to dust the bats of Bonds and the Giants, the Rockies in Coors Field, the potent Blue Jays and the Camden clubbers in Baltimore. Olson befuddles hitters by throwing a tight hard breaking slider mixed judiciously with a late moving fastball that appears faster than the 92-93 mph he tops out at. His change-up is not in the class of Liriano or Cole Hamels, but he is gaining more confidence in it with every start. While still under the radar among fans outside of Florida, teams have taken notice and have begun to stack their lineups with righthanded hitters as lefties are usually rendered useless against him (.152 batting average against with 0 home runs).
If Olson is gone, don’t fret! Many owners are still sitting idly by while Jon Lester dangles precariously as a Fantasy free agent. Lester, the BoSox’ top pitching prospect, dazzled his last time out against Washington (1 ER and 10 K’s in 6 IP). Lester is mainly a two-pitch pitcher right now, but as long as he’s finding the strike zone, that’s all he needs. His fastball has an extra gear and can overpower when he needs it to, though like Andy Pettitte he likes to cut it when facing righties. His curve has the potential to be a traditional knee-buckler and he is beginning to throw it more often early in the count. Lester is prone to walk a few, but backed by the hefty bats in Boston and with Matt Clement on the DL, he is being given a nice shot to solidify his slot in the rotation. This lefty is a major whiff-maker who like Olson dominates lefty hitters.
Here are three traditionally strong second-half hitters and pitchers who have struggled so far this season:
Career AVG / ERA Career AVG / ERA
(Pre-All Star Break) (Post-All Star Break)
Aubrey Huff .267 .303
Richie Sexson .253 .285
Shawn Green .275 .292
Doug Davis 4.59 3.88
Andy Pettitte 4.14 3.57
Livan Hernandez 4.42 3.89
*Turtle & Hare Illustration