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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, April 29, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Pick Three

It was a lofty goal, but I figured if LeBron James can shoot a key free throw left-handed, I can attempt to find three players on the waiver wire in fantasy baseball who are useful, despite being owned in fewer than 15 percent of the leagues on

Hence, this week's Pick Three -- a trio of players who are lower-level starters in deep mixed leagues or AL- and NL-only formats (all stats are through Wednesday):

-- Kevin Correia, SP, Padres (owned in 13 percent of the ESPN leagues): He's won four of his first five starts, but apparently many of you aren't buying it.

There is one stat that seems even more out of place than Correia's record: His 26 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched. In his eight-year career, he's averaged 6.6 strikeouts per 9 innings, so I wouldn't expect him to average anywhere near a K per inning.

Despite the mediocre career strikeout numbers, Correia was effective in 2009, his first full season as a starter, finishing 12-11 with a 3.91 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 198 innings.

He's allowed four runs or fewer in each of his five starts and two runs or fewer three times. Considering the struggles of some big-name pitchers this season (see Peavy, Jake; Beckett, Josh; Verlander, Justin; Greinke, Zack; and more than a few others), Correia is a decent option, especially in weeks in which he starts twice (see Week 5).

-- Ike Davis, 1B, Mets (10.6 percent): The 23-year-old, a first-round pick of the Mets in 2008 (No. 18 overall), received all of 33 at-bats in Triple-A before getting the call to the Big Apple.

The 6-foot-4 left-hander batted .355 with five runs scored, a homer, six RBI and .981 OPS in his first 10 games.

Before you get too excited, remember Davis is a rookie who has only 677 at-bats in the minor leagues. From 2008 to this year, he batted .288 with 83 runs, 22 homers and 92 RBI down on the farm.

Quality numbers? Yes. But he has a tendency to strike out almost every four at-bats and he likely will endure some growing pains in his first big-league season.

-- Jose Bautista, 3B, OF, Blue Jays (5.7 percent): In 787 at-bats since 2008 with the Pirates and Jays, Bautista has 32 homers, 110 RBI and 109 runs scored.

He's available in almost every league because he's a career .238 batter who entered Thursday night's game against the Oakland with a .222 average and .787 OPS in 22 games.

Regardless, if you can afford the dip in average, Bautista will give you a homer and RBI (16 in 81 at-bats this season) boost in deeper leagues, and he should be eligible at both third base and the outfield.

Best of the rest:
Ervin Santana, SP, Angels (14.8 percent); Randy Wells, SP, Cubs (11.5); Brandon Inge, 3B, Tigers (11.3), David DeJesus, OF, Royals (7.8); Carlos Silva, SP, Cubs (7.2).

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Start or sit: Grady Sizemore

If you are a disgruntled Grady Sizemore owner, here is one set of statistics that might make you feel a little better:

Since 2005, Sizemore's first full major-league season, his most productive April in terms of home runs and RBI occurred in 2009, when he tallied six homers and 18 RBI, while batting .239 with four stolen bases.

We all know how last season turned out -- Sizemore's worst with the Tribe, both on and off (think bathroom attire, or lack thereof) the field.

In fact, Sizemore hasn't produced much in the way of homers and RBI in the season's first month during his career. In 2005, he had two homers and seven RBI. In 2006, it was one and 10; in 2007, five and 11; and in 2008, three and 13. His batting averages in March/April from 2005-09: .223, .313, .253, .287 and .239.

So we have no reason to worry about Sizemore's abysmal 2010 start?

Your guess is as good as mine. (That's why they pay me the big bucks.)

In all seriousness, I wouldn't bench him yet, but he'd be on a shorter leash than Jesse James and Tiger Woods.

Sizemore is hitting .203, has yet to hit a home run, has stolen only one base and sports a .282 on-base percentage and .610 OPS. And how bad have the Indians been offensively? Sizemore entered Tuesday night's game at the Angels sixth on the team in hitting and third in RBI and runs scored.

Counting his injury-marred 2009, Sizemore has compiled 500 at-bats the last two seasons. In that span, he's batting .242 with 81 runs, 18 homers, 70 RBI and only 14 steals.

That's a far cry from 2008, when he had 33 homers, 38 steals and 90 RBI.

He's young (27) and he averaged 27 homers, 29 steals and 81 RBI from 2005-08.

That gives him some rope. Don't let it cloud your judgement of Sizemore from here on out, but allow him another week or two to reward your faith.

If he's still batting in the low .200s with no power by mid-May, he should join every Indians hitter not named Shin-Soo Choo as a fantasy reserve.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Fantasy football rookie watch

The NFL draft is in the books, but it's never to early to begin forecasting the top rookies for fantasy football in 2010.

Here's five to watch during training camps in the summer:

To read the rest of this blog, and comment, click here:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Pick Three

NFL draft? Bulls-Cavs?

How about a Pick Three for fantasy baseball?

Just as I thought: The people demand it.

The following are three players who are available in more than 70 percent of the leagues on and should be starters in deeper mixed leagues:

Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers (owned in 29.5 percent of the ESPN leagues): Heading into a late game Thursday night, Jackson had a hit in 12 of his first 14 games and had scored a run in nine of 14 contests. The rookie can help you in runs scored and stolen bases, and he's off to a .311/.373/.816 start in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS. He should be a starter in AL-only leagues and is an asset in deeper mixed formats.

Ty Wigginton, 3B, Orioles (19.1 percent):
He's played second and third because of injuries to Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada, respectively. When Tejada returns from quad and groin injuries on Friday, Wiggington should return to second. If you need temporary help there, he's a quality choice.

Wigginton, a .271 career hitter, has five homers and 11 RBI in his first 13 games. He has a 1.009 OPS and is capable of helping you in the power department (Wigginton hit a combined 45 homers in 925 at-bats in 2007 and '08). When Roberts returns, Wigginton's status is much more iffy -- but you probably have a couple more weeks before you need to worry about that.

Alberto Callaspo, 2B, Royals (12.5 percent):
The presence of Chris Getz at second base and Alex Gordon at third negated Callaspo's pre-draft value, despite 2009 statistics of 73 RBI, a .300 batting average and .813 OPS. With Getz (who hasn't played since April 14 because of a strained oblique) injured, Callaspo has continued to hit. He's batting .288 with three homers and 11 RBI in 59 at-bats.

Considering one-time phenom Gordon is off to another slow start and he's a .250 hitter in his four-year career, the Royals figure to find a place in their lineup for Callaspo even when at full strength.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fantasy football: Santonio Holmes trade impact

If you're a diehard Ohio State fan, Santonio Holmes might have disappointed you.

If you're a Browns fan, the Steelers' dumping of their leading receiver likely thrilled you.

If you're a Twitter follower of Holmes, the wideout might have told you where to go.

If you're a fantasy football fan, you might have contemplated the possibility of the trade of Holmes to the Jets damaging the value of at least four players.

Without trying to predict what will happen to each team's running game, let's take stock of the aftermath. The result could be even more joy for Browns fans -- Braylon Edwards' fantasy value plummeting like a hard-thrown pass that touches his fingertips.


-- Mike Walace, WR, Steelers:
The Ole Miss product was impressive as a rookie, catching 39 passes for 756 yards (19.6 yards per reception) and six touchdowns. Those numbers figure to jump with Holmes gone and Wallace the Steelers' likely No. 2 receiver.


-- Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets:
Holmes will be suspended for the season's first four games, then go from catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger to fielding throws from Mark Sanchez in a run-first offense. If Holmes would have stayed put and stayed out of trouble, he likely would have been a top-10 fantasy receiver entering 2010. He was seventh in the NFL with 1,248 receiving yards in 2009, but he'll be lucky to reach 800 this year.

-- Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: Holmes' counterpart on the gossip sites will miss his top target, and he could miss a game or two to begin the season, depending on whether Roger Goodell and/or the Steelers decide to send a message by suspending the troubled QB. Big Ben threw for a career-high 4,328 yards and had the second-best TD total (28, including two rushing scores) and passer rating (100.5) of his career. With Hines Ward, Wallace, Heath Miller, Antwaan Randle El and maybe even Limas Sweed, he still will have weapons at his disposal. But it's fair to assume he won't reach 4,000 yards with Holmes gone.

-- Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery, WRs, Jets:
Edwards' no-contest plea to misdemeanor aggravated disorderly conduct in Cleveland could earn the butterfingered one a suspension. Even if Edwards is available for all 16 games, he is at best the Jets' No. 2 target when Holmes is in the lineup. Cotchery, meanwhile, has averaged 73 receptions the last four seasons, but he has scored only 16 touchdowns in that span and might not even start by Week 5. At best, Edwards and Cotchery figure to be lower-level No. 3 receivers in 12-team leagues.


-- Hines Ward, WR, Steelers:
Ward just turned 34 and prior to the 2009 Super Bowl was unquestionably Pittsburgh's top receiving threat. Holmes' departure shouldn't mean a dip or spike in Ward's numbers, since the latter, when healthy, seems to catch between 80 and 90 passes for 1,000 to 1,300 yards, no matter who joins him as running mates. Ward's 95 catches and 1,167 yards in 2009 both were good for the second-highest totals of his 12-year career.


-- Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets:
Yes, he helped the Jets get to the AFC championship game as a rookie. But he might have made more of an impact on the pages of GQ than he did on the field during the regular season, when he threw eight more interceptions (20) than touchdown passes (12). At best, he's a lower-level No. 2 QB in a 12-team league entering the season -- especially considering 17 quarterbacks threw for 3,553 yards or more and 18 had at least 20 TD passes last season.

Want more fantasy updates? Follow me on Twitter.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Two-start pitchers for Week 2

Let's take quick look at the two-start pitchers who are good plays -- fringe starters and fantasy backups who should make an impact this week.


-- Andy Pettitte, Yankees:
The 37-year-old will face the Angels' Ervin Santana on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, followed by a Sunday start against Rich Harden and the visiting Rangers.

-- Bronson Arroyo, Reds: The veteran who has won 15 games in each of the last two seasons will square off against the Marlins' Nate Robertson on the road on Tuesday, followed by a Sunday matchup against the host Pirates and Paul Maholm.

-- Justin Duchscherer, Athletics:
The 2008 fantasy surprise, who missed all of last season with an elbow injury, will throw Monday at Seattle and Ryan Rowland-Smith. Duchscherer will finish his week Saturday at home against the Orioles' Jeremy Guthrie.


-- Ervin Santana, Angels:
After a rocky first start, Santana will pitch against Pettitte and the host Yankees on Tuesday, then take the hill Sunday against the host Blue Jays and impressive youngster Ricky Romero.

-- Rich Harden, Rangers: In addition to his Sunday start at New York against Pettitte, Harden will throw at Progressive Field for the Tribe's home opener Monday, a game in which he'll face Fausto Carmona.

-- Brian Matusz, Orioles:
The 22-year-old who didn't allow a run in his first start likely won't fare as well this week, when he gets the call Tuesday at home against the Rays' Jeff Niemann, followed by a road start against Brett Anderson and the A's.


These pitchers have one favorable matchup, along with a difficult one: Carl Pavano, Twins (vs. Red Sox, Jon Lester, Monday; vs. Royals, Luke Hochevar, Sunday); Barry Zito, Giants (vs. Pirates, Ross Ohlendorf, Monday; at Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw, Sunday); Johnny Cueto, Reds (at Marlins, Ricky Nolasco, Monday; at Pirates, Ross Ohlendorf, Saturday); Ricky Romero, Blue Jays (vs. White Sox, Gavin Floyd, Tuesday; vs. Angels, Ervin Santana, Sunday).

-- If you're looking for a complete list of pitching matchups for the week, ESPN's Fantasy Forecaster is useful. ... Want more updates? Follow me on Twitter.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Closing chronicles, Part II

"We are a committee. Our closer role is a committee," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said on Sunday.

At which point every fantasy owner in a 10-team mixed league scratched the names of Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares off their lists of potential draftees in the bullpen.

We begin our second look at the six most combustible closing situations in baseball with the Twins -- who seem to have as many candidates to close as the Indians do to be their fifth starter in August.

For Part I, click here.


If you play fantasy, by now you are aware that Joe Nathan, who has averaged a major-league best 41 saves with a 1.87 ERA the last six seasons, is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. (If you weren't aware, you probably want to download a draft kit. Or just take the season off.)

Nathan's injury leaves Rauch, a 31-year-old with the most closing experience, as the most likely candidate to earn the job full-time. Rauch saved 18 games in 24 chances in 2008 with the Nationals and Diamondbacks, but he doesn't have the lights-out stuff (only 49 strikeouts in 70 innings last season) most teams want for the back end of the bullpen.

Guerrier, 31, has been a very effective setup man (5-1, 2.36 ERA last season), and it's a role for which he seems best suited.

Mijares, the only lefty among the closing contenders, was effective as a specialist last season -- lefties batted .155 against him, compared to .283 for righties. Mijares is also a decent source of strikeouts (55 in 61 2/3 innings in 2009) and WHIP (1.18).

A fourth candidate being mentioned is Jesse Crain, 28, who was 7-4 with 4.70 ERA last season. With an average of 5.8 strikeouts per 9 innings for his career, he would seem to be the long shot of the bunch.

The best guess: Rauch will earn the most opportunities early, but I wouldn't be surprised if Mijares won the job at some point. Both should be considered low-end No. 3 relievers in 12-team mixed leagues and mid-level No. 2 relievers in AL-only leagues.


Octavio Dotel was signed to be the Pirates' closer, but until Wednesday, he had been out with a strained oblique. The 11-year veteran threw a scoreless inning in his spring debut, and he's really Pittsburgh's only choice.

Joel Hanrahan, who briefly was Washington's closer last season, is out with an elbow injury for the Pirates, and 38-year-old Brendan Donnelly (yes, the Brendan Donnelly who had an 8.56 ERA in 15 forgettable appearances with the Tribe in 2008) is the setup man.

That leaves Dotel, who is very good at one thing: Striking batters out. The 36-year-old had 75 K's in 62 1/3 innings last season, and he's averaged 11 strikeouts per 9 innings for his career.

Considering the Pirates have averaged 68 wins the last 10 years, Mariano Rivera might be lucky to save 25 games in Pittsburgh. Dotel is a No. 3 closer in deeper mixed leagues, but he is at least ahead of Rauch in the top 30.


Jason Frasor has beaten out Kevin Gregg and Scott Downs, and the six-year veteran might be better than you think.

Frasor saved 11 games in 14 chances last season, during which he won seven games, had a 2.50 ERA and struck out 56 in 57 2/3 innings. He has averaged more than eight strikeouts per nine innings for his career, and he should have more value than the likes of Matt Capps, Matt Lindstrom, Dotel and the Twins' closer to be named later.

Frasor is still a No. 3 reliever to start the season, but he could finish as a No. 2 in mixed leagues. It helps that his manager didn't once mention "committee" after announcing that he had won the job.

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