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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fantasy baseball: News and notes from Week 3

Let's take a trip around the horn as we breathlessly wait for Alex Rodriguez's return to a .500 team (can he pitch in the seventh and eighth innings?):

Closer comings and goings

-- B.J. Ryan's oblique injury has significantly enhanced the value of replacement Scott Downs in category leagues. Downs has converted both of his save opportunities (Ryan was 2-for-4 before heading to the disabled list) and has 14 strikeouts and a 0.84 ERA in 10 2/3 innings pitched for Toronto. Combine those numbers with his 2007 and '08 stats (a 2.17 and 1.78 ERA, respectively, and a total of 114 strikeouts in 128 2/3 innings), and you wonder if the Blue Jays would dare keep him in the role when Ryan returns. That probably won't happen, but when Ryan comes back in the next week or two, don't discount Downs if you have the roster space. I wouldn't be surprised if he finishes the year as Toronto's closer.

-- Don't look now, but it seems as if the Cardinals have decided on a closer. Ryan Franklin, who converted 17 saves in 25 chances last season, is 5-for-5 in save situations, and he's yet to allow a run in eight innings this season. Franklin isn't going to be much of an asset in the strikeout department (he has 573 in 1,055 1/3 career innings), although he has fanned one batter per inning this month.

-- The Braves are alternating closing opportunities between Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano, both of whom have two saves since April 11. Neither has significant value and should only be started in deeper category leagues. Both are injury risks and both are good for strikeouts. For the long run, I prefer Soriano, who began last season as Atlanta's closer but had his campaign wrecked by injury.

-- The Brewers activated Trevor Hoffman from the disabled list Sunday (it was fun while it lasted, Todd Coffey). Hoffman's four-year streak of saving 41 or more games ended with the Padres last season, when he had 30 saves and an uncharacteristically high 3.77 ERA. He's a shell of his former self, but he's still worthy of a start as low-end No. 2 closer in category leagues.

Remember him?

The Rangers have dusted off Andruw Jones, who is 10-for-23 (.435) with 10 runs scored, five doubles, two homers, a .913 slugging percentage and a silly 1.480 OPS. Before you think the former fantasy standout with the Braves is worth playing, consider this: Jones has only 23 at-bats because the Rangers' outfield and DH situation is loaded with Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Marlon Byrd and Hank Blalock. At most, Jones will play every other day, which isn't enough for fantasy consideration.

Pick three

Our weekly look at three players worth acquiring on the waiver wire, with the rule of thumb that each must be available in more than half of the leagues on

-- Scott Rolen, 3B, Blue Jays: Injuries limited this former stud to 392 and 408 at-bats the previous two seasons, but the 34-year-old again is worth starting in deeper leagues. Rolen is batting .319 with 11 runs scored, two homers and eight RBI. If he stays healthy, he's a shoo-in to drive in 90 to 95 runs (he's hit at least 21 homers nine times in his career, and has seven seasons with 92 or more RBI).

-- Skip Schumaker, 2B, Cardinals: He's made the move from the outfield to the middle of the diamond, which significantly increases his fantasy value. Schumaker won't provide much pop (he has 11 homers in 847 career at-bats), but he'll hit for average (.300 career), steal the occasional base (eight last season) and score 90-plus runs. He should start in NL-only leagues and is valuable in deeper mixed leagues. He has five hits and four RBI in his last 11 at-bats.

-- Edwin Jackson, SP, Tigers: He's not going to help you much in strikeouts (328 in 482 career innings), and he's five games under .500 for his career. But this former Tampa Bay Ray won 14 games last season and is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in his first month in Detroit. If your starting rotation needs help, Jackson, who is available in about 80 percent of the ESPN leagues, is a decent option.

Zack Greinke, really?

If you saw this coming (the Royals right-hander with a 38-45 career record has yet to allow an earned run in 29 innings this season), you also must have had Mel Kiper's 73rd-ranked safety, Ohio University's Michael Mitchell, pegged for the Raiders in the second round of the NFL draft on Saturday.

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