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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.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fantasy baseball: Franklin Gutierrez and more notes

Prior to a three-team trade between the Indians, Mariners and Mets last December, Franklin Gutierrez was known for his outfield defense.

It's too early to tell, but thus far that deal, which netted the Indians reliever Joe Smith and second baseman Luis Valbuena, seems to have the Mariners playing the role of Prince Fielder and the Tribe as a ball thrown by a coach in the Home Run Derby.

After homering against his former team Saturday night, his second home run in as many games vs. the Tribe, Gutierrez is batting .294 with 12 homers, 40 RBI and 24 extra-base hits in 293 at-bats. He's also scored 44 runs and stolen six bases.

Even better: Since June 16, he has nine homers and 21 RBI in 117 at-bats. In that span, he's batting .342 with 21 runs. This from a player who hit .248 with eight homers, 40 RBI and a .690 OPS in 399 at-bats with the Indians in 2008.

Factor in that Smith has been oft-injured, has a 4.35 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP, and Valbuena is hitting .217 with a .275 on-base percentage and currently can't beat out Jamey Carroll for playing time, the trade seems as questionable as Eric Wedge's daily lineup adjustments.

Gutierrez is owned in only 22.5 percent of the leagues on, a number that is surprisingly low even after an 8.1-percent leap this week. If Gutierrez is available, he is a significant asset in deep leagues.

He's never been a threat to hit .300 (he batted .258 with the Indians from 2005-08), but he's only 26 and is playing at a career-best clip. Don't expect Gutierrez's batting average to finish above .280 or his homers to continue to occur once every 13 at-bats.

He is, however, more than serviceable as a third outfielder in 14- or 16-team leagues.

He is also another sign that Mark Shapiro seems to have lost his edge faster than you can say Jhonny Peralta.

Finally, the pitchers: A blog I wrote prior to vacation featured the best fantasy batters of the first half. In case you were wondering what happened to the list of pitchers I promised, here we go.


-- Tim Lincecum, Giants:
He was 10-2 with a 2.33 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings in the first half. Johan, who?

-- Justin Verlander, Tigers: One of this year's best draft-day values won 10 games and fanned 149 in 122 1/3 innings prior to the All-Star break.

-- Zack Greinke, Royals: Yes, he has cooled down considerably (2-4 since June), but I'll take 10-5 with a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 127 1/3 innings.

-- Dan Haren, Diamondbacks: Imagine if he compiled his first-half numbers for a team other than the D-Backs (2.01 ERA, a .189 opponents' batting average, 0.81 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 130 innings). Arizona was the only reason he had only nine wins at the break.

-- Josh Beckett, Red Sox: His ERA (3.35) wasn't on the level of Haren, Greinke or Lincecum, but his 11 wins, three losses and 110 K's place him in the top five.

-- Runner-up: Roy Halladay, who gets a slight edge over Matt Cain and Felix Hernandez.


-- Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers:
He missed the All-Star game because of a toe injury that is expected to hamper him the rest of the season, but he was the top reliever of the first half after going 6-0 with a 3.10 ERA, 20 saves in 22 chances, a 0.93 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings.

-- Heath Bell, Padres: He blew only one save in 24 chances, had a 1.69 ERA and 42 K's in 37 1/3 innings.

Runner-up: Brian Fuentes, Angels: Francisco Rodriguez's replacement in Los Angeles gets a narrow nod over Jonathan Papelbon because of his 26 saves in 29 chances.

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