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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.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fantasy focus: Jhonny Peralta and Aaron Laffey

Jhonny Peralta symbolizes many of the things that drive Tribe fans crazy.

-- His casual demeanor can fool you into believing he doesn't care.

-- He played the majority of his career out of position, which seems to be an Eric Wedge motto. Think Ryan Garko in left field, Asdrubal Cabrera at second base or Chris Gimenez anywhere.

-- When the season goes south, Peralta seems to be at his best.

The latter item will lead "real" fans to believe Peralta isn't clutch. Us fake players, however, can reap the benefits of Peralta's efforts to be the Indians' post-June Evan Longoria for the second straight season.

Since July 5, Peralta, even after going 0-for-5 Wednesday night, is batting .324 with 17 runs scored, five homers, 21 RBI and seven doubles in 102 at-bats. The homers account for more than half of the third baseman's season total (five of nine), and he had only 34 RBI in 275 at-bats prior to his hot streak.

This stretch coincides with a 2008 in which Peralta batted .294 with 57 runs, 11 home runs and 54 RBI from July on. In 2005, he batted .300 with 54 runs, 23 doubles, 16 homers and 51 RBI after the calendar flipped to the seventh month.

In 2007 -- when the Tribe won the Central Division -- it was the opposite. Peralta, prior to a productive postseason, faded down the stretch, batting .261 with seven homers and 22 RBI after the All-Star break (compared to .277 with 14 homers and 50 RBI prior).

You don't need any more stats to tell you this is Peralta's favorite time of year. Somehow, he is available in more than 27 percent of the leagues on

If that's the case in your league, I'd acquire him faster than you can say white flag.

Laffey does matter: Aaron Laffey is young, a lefty and has a salary that is line with the major-league minimum, which makes him a shoo-in for the Tribe's rotation in 2010.

He's also on a surprisingly effective run during The Peralta Months, allowing four runs or fewer in each of his five starts since returning to the Indians' rotation on July 8.

In that span, Laffey is 2-2 with a 3.19 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 31 innings. He's thrown seven shutout innings or more in two of his last three starts, and he has a respectable 3.58 ERA for the season.

He's available in, oh, 99.3 percent of the ESPN leagues -- which isn't to suggest that you should rush to put in a waiver-wire bid. But in deep mixed leagues in which he qualifies as a reliever, Laffey can be an asset if you'd rather play a reliever who will start once or twice a week.

Laffey won't help you in strikeouts (he has 100 in 200 1/3 career innings), but he doesn't seem to have the Carl Pavano all-or-nothing quality/curse.

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