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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, July 27, 2009

Fantasy baseball: Carlos Guillen's return and more notes

Carlos Guillen is the perfect example of eligibility rules gone haywire, which makes his availability in roughly half of the leagues on even more surprising.

Guillen started 89 games at third base and 24 for the Tigers at first in 2008. Because of that, he is eligible at first, third and the outfield in many ESPN leagues, and Yahoo lists him as a third baseman and outfielder.

The catch: Guillen, who returned Friday from nearly a three-month absence because of a shoulder injury, has only played left field and been Detroit's designated hitter this season.

So why would a .225 hitting 33-year-old with one home run and a bad wing make any impact this late in the season?

The answer is more simple than a SportsTime Ohio poll segment. Third base has been awful from a fantasy standpoint this season -- so much so that Russell "Don't Call Me Dave Kingman" Branyan might be among the top 10 at the position, even though he's currently the Mariners' starting first baseman.

If you can play Guillen at third, even if he's yet to play there this year, that makes his value much more appealing than his current numbers would suggest.

Before you dismiss the move, consider this: In 2006 and '07, Guillen had a combined 40 homers, 187 RBI, 186 runs scored, 33 stolen bases, a .308 batting average and 76 doubles. His OPS in the two seasons: .919 and .859, respectively.

Guillen was far from a fantasy stud last season, but he still batted .286 with 68 runs, 54 RBI, nine steals and 29 doubles in 420 at-bats.

In three games since returning from the disabled list, Guillen is 5-for-12 with a homer (his first of the season) and three RBI.

He is strictly a designated hitter for now, but that doesn't mean you have to limit him to that role.

If you can play him at third and your other options at the position are Branyan-esque, consider Guillen.

You don't make the rules, but you can certainly benefit from them.

More Tigers: Guillen's comeback could further lessen the value of Magglio Ordonez, who is batting .261 with just five homers, 32 RBI and a .686 OPS. With Guillen getting the majority of the at-bats at designated hitter, Ordonez, who has started 20 games at DH, might only play four times a week instead of five.

Detroit's regular DH, Marcus Thames (10 homers in 154 at-bats), should be the Tigers' left fielder.

Take a seat: In six starts since being activated by Boston, John Smoltz is 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA. The only positive number is the 42-year-old's 28 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings. I wouldn't give up on Smoltz if you have the roster space, but he's definitely not a fantasy starter in 10- and 12-team leagues.

No thanks: While we're on the subject of aging pitchers, if you're among the few waiting on Pedro Martinez to make his Phillies debut, treat the possibility as if it's another live "SportsCenter" segment from Brett Favre's lawn in Mississippi. Change the channel, click on another free-agent pitcher ... you get the idea.

Free agent of the week: A Phillies pitcher I would strongly consider acquiring -- Joe Blanton. He's owned in just 13.8 percent of the ESPN leagues, despite going 3-0 with a 1.21 ERA in four starts this month.

The most surprising stat from Blanton is his total of 102 strikeouts in 118 1/3 innings. It took him 230 innings to register a career-high 140 K's with the Athletics in 2007.

He's never been much of a strikeout pitcher, but he does win. From 2005-07, Blanton was 42-34 with the Athletics.

He was terrible at the start of 2008 before getting traded to Philadelphia. In 32 starts with the Phillies, his ERA is above 4.00, but he's 11-4.

Blanton's next start is Friday against the Giants, who rank 20th in the majors in batting average (.257), 27th in runs scored (391 in 98 games) and 29th in home runs (64).

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