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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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fantasy baseball: Pick Three and more notes

I'm back from vacation, we're anxiously awaiting news on Charlie Villanueva's free-agent destination and the Indians have raised the white flag faster than Tracy McGrady's knees.

Two out of three ain't bad, but the thought of Chris Perez being the cornerstone of a trade involving Mark DeRosa is quite the opposite. OK, I've wasted enough of your time ... On to the much-anticipated, two-weeks-in-the-making Pick Three.

As always, these are players who are owned in fewer than 50 percent of the leagues on

Juan Rivera, OF, Angels (owned in 49.6 percent of the ESPN leagues):
A surge of 11.7 percent in the past couple of days almost took him off the list, which means owners have belatedly noticed Rivera's June. He headed into Tuesday night's game at Texas with a .302 batting average, eight homers, 24 RBI and a .955 OPS in 96 at-bats this month. For the season, he's batting .307 with 13 homers and 43 RBI in 251 at-bats. Rivera won't help you on the basepaths (he has nine steals in 621 career games), but he will provide a power boost and increase your batting average.

Tommy Hanson, SP, Braves (43.1 percent): He, too, has seen a big spike in ownership (up 7.3 percent this week). The Braves' rookie right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA in his first five big-league starts. He's won each of his last four starts, and he hasn't allowed a run in his last three. The only area in which he's been lacking thus far is strikeouts (18 in 29 innings), but I would expect that to change. Hanson struck out 463 in 389 innings in the minor leagues, and he fanned 90 while compiling a 1.49 ERA in 66 1/3 innings in Triple-A in 2009.

Fernando Nieve, SP, Mets (6.8 percent): The first two players on this list were gimmes, but this is much more of a reach. In NL-only or deep ESPN leagues, Nieve is a luxury because you can start him as both a reliever and a starter. The 26-year-old won his first three starts, then received a reality check on Monday at Milwaukee, when he allowed 11 hits and three runs in 3 1/3 innings. Once a highly touted Astros prospect, don't expect him to be a No. 2 or 3 starter. But if you need a No. 5 for a week, he can be useful if he can hold his spot in the Mets' rotation.

-- Fishing for a closer? If so, it's worth looking into acquiring a couple of Marlins.

Matt Lindstrom, who had 14 saves in 16 chances despite a 6.52 ERA that would fit right in with the Tribe's bullpen, will be out at least six weeks because of an elbow injury.

His job seemed to belong to Dan Meyer, who is 1-0 with a 1.99 ERA, one save and 30 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. The 27-year-old, however, was removed after recording two outs and running into trouble in the ninth inning on Monday. His replacement, Leo Nunez, got the final out and his first save.

Nunez, 25, and Meyer could share the closer duties for now. For the long term, I would expect Nunez to have more fantasy value.

Both pitchers are useful only in deep category leagues in which saves tend to be overvalued. Nunez is owned in 5.8 percent of the ESPN leagues, and Meyer is at 2.8 percent.

We'll be back later this week with a look at John Smoltz and Boston's starting rotation, and have a look ahead to the second half of the season in Saturday's print and online editions.

Good luck and remember to thank the owners in your league who dropped Gavin Floyd and Ricky Nolasco.

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