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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, May 18, 2009

Fantasy baseball: Jimmy Rollins, talk radio and Pick Three

Come ahhhhhhhhhhhhnnnnnnnn.

There’s an amusing ESPN radio commercial in which Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins utters the above line in -- of all places -- the back seat of a car. It’s a relevant jab at the lack of creativity that is so prevalent in sports talk radio, and it’s a spot that’s made me wonder what I would say to Rollins if I had drafted him in the first round and just so happened to be driving him around town.

The answer wouldn’t be Rollins’ commercial catchphrase, but his recent play has certainly taken away some of the sting felt by owners who were expecting much more from a late first- or early second-round fantasy pick.

As we detailed in a column that appeared in print editions and online Saturday, there are more than a few struggling stars in the first six weeks of the season. What’s difficult is determining which players will snap out of their early funk and should be kept in the starting lineup and which are headed downward faster than an all-callers segment on Jim Rome’s radio program.

I would put Rollins in the no-worries category. Yes, he’s batting only .222 and has just two homers and four steals in eight attempts, but consider his numbers from his current seven-game hitting streak: 10 hits, eight runs, one homer, four RBI and three steals.

It’s fair to wonder if Rollins’ 30-homer season in 2007, when he was named National League MVP, was an aberration, since he had only 11 homers last season and has hit more than 14 long balls only twice in eight full seasons in the majors.

He probably won’t be a huge source of RBI, either (his average total from the previous eight seasons is 67), but he should steal at least 30 bases, hit for average and some pop.

First-round production? Maybe not.

Bench him? Enter catchphrase.

Pick Three

Our weekly look at three players who should help you in deeper leagues, with the caveat that each must be available in more than half of the leagues on

Kendry Morales, 1B, Angels (owned in only 26.8 percent of the ESPN leagues): He’s batting .275 with six homers and 23 RBI, putting Mark Teixeira’s replacement in the Angels’ infield on pace for 27 homers and 104 RBI. His position is loaded with fantasy talent, but if you’re looking for an extra power bat, pick up this 25-year-old who hit .337 with a .939 OPS in his minor-league career.

Alberto Callaspo, 2B, Royals (19.9 percent): He’s proving to be an undrafted gem at a weak position. Callaspo, 26, is batting .341 with 16 RBI, 18 extra-base hits, one more walk than strikeouts (12 to 11), and he has an OPS of .919. If you need power, Callaspo isn’t the answer – his two home runs this season are the only long balls he’s hit in 525 big-league at-bats. He batted .316 in the minors, with 84 more strikeouts than walks (229 to 145).

Juan Pierre, OF, Dodgers (48.8 percent): All it took was Manny Ramirez getting suspended for him to start earning his hefty paycheck (a $10 million salary this season). In the 10 games Ramirez has missed, Pierre is batting .465 (20-for-43) with 11 runs, nine RBI and six steals. If you need power from your third outfield spot, seek help elsewhere, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t find a spot somewhere in your lineup.

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