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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.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Two-start pitchers for Week 9

If you're a Kendry Morales owner, all you can do is shake your head at your dumb luck. (When was the last time a walkoff grand slam was a bad thing?)

If you own both Morales and Grady Sizemore (like me), may I suggest eliminating one league from your daily to-do list? Some things just weren't meant to be.

Let's take a quick look at the two-start pitchers for Week 9, with the idea that you already know to start Tim Lincecum and not consider Rodrigo Lopez.


1. Hisanori Takahasi, Mets (Monday at Padres; Saturday vs. Marlins): He has thrown 12 1/3 scoreless innings since getting moved into the starting rotation, and the appearances were against the Yankees and Phillies. The former reliever has 44 strikeouts in 38 innings, and he is scheduled to face San Diego's Kevin Correia (4-4, 4.03 ERA) and Florida's Nate Robertson (4-4, 4.05, 1.46 WHIP).

2. Brett Myers, Astros (Tuesday vs. Nationals; Sunday vs. Cubs): In his last five starts, Myers is 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 34 innings. In five starts at home, he is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA. This week, he should be opposed by Washington's Craig Stammen (1-2, 5.60 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) and the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano, who makes his return to the rotation this week.

3. Jeremy Bonderman, Tigers (Tuesday vs. Indians; Sunday at Royals): In his last four starts, Bonderman has a 1.38 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 26 innings. His opposition isn't much, either -- the Tribe's Jake Westbrook (2-3, 4.78 ERA) and the Royals' Brian Bannister (4-3, 4.70).

Others to play: Doug Fister, Mariners (Monday vs. Twins; Saturday vs. Angels); John Ely, Dodgers (Tuesday vs. Diamondbacks; Sunday vs. Braves); Jason Vargas, Mariners (Tuesday vs. Twins; Sunday vs. Angels). And if you're desperate, the White Sox's Mark Buehrle has favorable home matchups against the Rangers on Tuesday and the Indians on Sunday. As long as you're not worried about playing a pitcher who is 3-5 with a 4.38 ERA and a 1-5 record in his last eight starts.


Starters with one favorable and unfavorable matchup: Bronson Arroyo, Reds; Joe Blanton, Phillies; Trevor Cahill, Athletics; Joel Pineiro, Angels; Ervin Santana, Angels; Javier Vazquez, Yankees; Carlos Zambrano, Cubs


Luis Atilano, Nationals; Brian Bannister, Royals; Nick Blackburn, Twins; Kevin Correia, Padres; Rich Harden, Rangers; Luke Hochevar, Royals; Brian Matusz, Orioles; Mitch Talbot, Indians

For more updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fantasy focus: Grady Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera

How bad has it been for Grady Sizemore this season?

I'm guessing I wasn't the only owner who was relieved Sizemore entered Week 7 banged up. That gave me a reason to bench him and not worry about him possibly having his first big week of the season during a time in which he was on my list of reserves.

The Indians center fielder has a deep bone bruise in his left knee and will miss at least 15 days. Surgery hasn't been ruled out, however, and Sizemore's sudden lack of power should mean an extended stay on your bench.

Shortstop and teammate Asdrubal Cabrera, meanwhile, will miss at least 8 to 10 weeks with a broken forearm (thanks for your efforts, Jhonny Peralta) -- meaning you should prepare for the possibility of the 24-year-old not helping you the rest of the year.

If you need help in the outfield or at short because of the absence of Sizemore and/or Cabrera, here are a few options who are owned in fewer than 50 percent of the standard leagues on


1. Corey Hart, Brewers (owned in 43.4 percent of the ESPN leagues): He has seven homers, 19 RBI and three steals, including four home runs and seven RBI in his last five games. After a miserable 2009 and poor beginning to this season, Hart is resembling the player who totaled 44 homers, 172 RBI and 46 steals from 2007-08.

2. Jonny Gomes, Reds (22.9 percent): A career .245 hitter, Gomes is batting .304 with five homers and 25 RBI. He has hit 20 or more homers three times since 2005.

3. Austin Kearns, Indians (25 percent): The veteran has been surprisingly effective in his first season with the Tribe, batting .302 with three homers and 20 RBI.

4. Nate McLouth, Braves (39.8 percent): Once an undervalued high-end starter, McLouth is now a bargain-basement pickup because of his poor play. He is batting only .208, but is 9-for-24 (.375) with a homer and six RBI in his last seven contests.

Others of note: Ryan Sweeney, Athletics (11.6 percent); Will Venable, Padres (10.3); Luke Scott, Orioles (17.1); Aaron Rowand, Giants (20.3); Fred Lewis, Blue Jays (13.8).


1. Mike Aviles, Royals (owned in 31.9 percent of the ESPN leagues): He is starting at second base for Kansas City, but is eligible at short in many leagues. Aviles is batting .381 in May and is capable of reaching double figures in both homers and steals.

2. Orlando Cabrera, Reds (45.5 percent): The 35-year-old is batting .271 with 20 runs scored, three homers, 19 RBI and four steals. In May, he's hitting .313.

3. Cristian Guzman, Nationals (19.8): He entered Thursday's game batting .328 overall and .426 this month.

4. Cliff Pennington, Athletics (19.8): He has three homers, 17 RBI and five steals, but is batting only .232 and is 5-for-36 since May 12 (.139).

5. Yunel Escobar, Braves (45.2): He followed his career year of 2009 by starting miserably, then getting hurt this season. Since returning from the DL, he is 3-for-21 (.143), and his season average is .200. If he turns it around, he's a waiver-wire bargain.

For more fantasy updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fantasy focus: Trevor Hoffman

If this is the end for Trevor Hoffman, he certainly has made it memorable.

The Brewers closer and baseball's all-time saves leader with 596 has blown half of his save opportunities this season, including an appearance Tuesday at Cincinnati in which he allowed three runs on four hits and didn't record an out in a 5-4 loss.

He has been shut down for the next two days to correct his mechanics, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, but Hoffman says his mechanics are fine.

I'm no pitching coach -- and I don't play one on the Internet -- but this quote is troubling for any fantasy owner in a deep category league who is depending on Hoffman for saves: "I'm a mid-80s (mph) guy. The changeup has been mid-to-low 70s. Not much is off in those numbers."

Translation: Hoffman doesn't rely on his heat, but right now he might as well be throwing in a beer league at Daniels Park.

The 42-year-old was excellent last season, when he converted 37 of 41 save opportunities with a 1.83 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. This season, he has a 13.15 ERA, 2.15 WHIP and 21 hits allowed in 13 innings.

The most remarkable number for Hoffman in 2010 might be the five blown saves, considering from 2004-09, at the ages of 36 to 41, he converted all but 27 save chances -- an average of only 4.5 blown saves per season.

If you own Hoffman and have the roster space, a player to consider is Brewers reliever Carlos Villanueva. The 26-year-old has a 3.05 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 27 Ks in 20 2/3 innings.

Milwaukee hasn't named an interim closer, but since LaTroy Hawkins is the disabled list with a shoulder injury (and he's 37), Villanueva seems to be the Brewers' best backup plan.

In daily leagues, he could be an emergency fill-in for Hoffman. In weekly leagues, he shouldn't be a starter until the bottom completely falls out for a player who has recorded 30 saves or more in 14 of the last 15 seasons.

For more fantasy sports updates, follow Kevin Kleps on Twitter.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Readers, we need your help

Were you in a fantasy baseball league in the 1990s in which you kept score by, gulp, hand? Did you use the newspaper box scores to tally your league's results, then get annoyed when none of the games that started after 8 p.m. made your edition?

You're far from alone, and we want to hear from you.

As part of The News-Herald's Ben Franklin Project, Staff Writer John Kampf is working on a story about the pre-computer days of fantasy baseball. Share your stories with John (How did you keep score? Could you still do it that way today, or has the Internet spoiled you?) by e-mailing him at Please include your name, home town and phone number.

For more information, click here. Thanks for your help.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Pick Three

It's the second week of May and Jason Bay's lack of production can't be dismissed. The same goes for Russell Martin, Jason Kubel, Grady Sizemore, Lance Berkman and every other hitter I drafted in the office league.

But enough of my problems.

Between yelling at Mike Brown, imploring LeBron James to be more aggressive and wondering if it's too late for the Cavs to pursue Amare Stoudemire, take a look at this week's Pick Three. The hitters who follow are available in more than 70 percent of the leagues on and can be helpful in deeper mixed, AL- and NL-only leagues (all stats are through Monday).

Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants (owned in 28.1 percent of the ESPN leagues)

Since missing more than two weeks because of fractures in his left cheekbone and a mild concussion after getting hit by a pitch, Rowand has been on a tear. In seven games since returning from the DL, he is hitting .344 with a 1.101 OPS, six runs scored, three homers and 11 RBI. He had at least two RBI in five of the seven games.

Rowand has been mostly a bust since signing a big contract with the Giants prior to the 2008 season. In 2008 and '09, he had a combined 28 homers and 134 RBI in 1,048 at-bats. He racked up 251 strikeouts in that span and batted only .266 with 118 runs scored.

This season, Rowand is hitting .321 with four homers, 17 RBI and a .918 OPS in 78 at-bats. That kind of production likely won't continue, but the 32-year-old should be considered a decent third outfielder in bigger mixed leagues.

Troy Glaus, 1B, Braves (8.6 percent)

Glaus, like Rowand, is an aging slugger. With the former, however, you do at least know what you're going to get: If Glaus is healthy, he'll hit for power -- and that's about it.

From 2005-08, the 33-year-old averaged 31 homers and 91 RBI. He's a .255 career hitter who strikes out once every 3.9 at-bats, and he has as much of a chance of stealing a base as Shaquille O'Neal or Glen "Big Baby" Davis. When he's going well, however, he will give you a boost in homers, RBI and OPS.

In nine games this month, Glaus is batting .400 with 10 RBI and a .964 OPS. He should only be a starting option in deeper leagues, as long as you can afford to drop a couple points in batting average.

Nate Schierholtz, OF, Giants (6.3 percent)

Hey, we had to recommend someone under 30. Schierholtz, 26, is off to an impressive, although somewhat uneventful, start with San Francisco.

He is batting .351 with a .422 on-base percentage and .949 OPS in 28 games. However, he has only one homer and five RBI -- not exactly the numbers you're looking for in an outfielder. In 546 career at-bats in the big leagues, the 2003 second-round pick is a .293 hitter, but he has just seven homers and 49 RBI.

Schierholtz's minor-league sample -- 2,411 at-bats over seven seasons -- is large enough to get a pretty good idea of what he will provide if he proves to be an effective major-leaguer. He batted .307 with 84 homers, 400 RBI, 41 steals and an .870 OPS in the minors.

The power, we should assume, should come. Schierholtz should hit for average and be a threat to steal eight to 12 bases. Until the power follows, though, he's more suited to be an NL-only option.

For more fantasy baseball updates, follow me on Twitter. But please save your Mike Brown and Larry Dolan complaints for Bruce Drennan. Anything to encourage another performance like this.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Remember them?

If you finished your draft with Alfonso Soriano as your third outfielder, Vladimir Guerrero at designated hitter and Adrian Beltre at third base, your buddies might have asked you if you thought it was 2006.

Now, Soriano, Guerrero and Beltre are playing as if George W. Bush is still in office and LeBron James is driving to the hole, and Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones are ready to brick the open shot that results.

Of the three, Soriano had the highest fantasy value entering the season, but he was a lower-level starting candidate in deep mixed leagues following a 2009 season in which he batted .241 and was limited to 117 games by injury. The same went for Beltre, who had a miserable 2009 (.265, eight homers, 44 RBI, .683 OPS) but was making the move to a more productive lineup in Boston.

Guerrero, meanwhile, was a late-round candidate at age 35, due to the fact he no longer steals bases (a combined 12 since 2007) and wasn't viewed as an everyday player after batting .295 with 15 homers and 50 RBI in 100 games in 2009.

Let's break down the current value of the trio following a recent stretch in which they have played their way into many owners' starting lineups:

-- Soriano: Prior to the Cubs' game against the Pirates on Thursday, Soriano was batting .326 with seven home runs, 18 RBI and a 1.063 OPS. In his previous five games, he was 9-for-19 with seven runs, five homers and 11 RBI.

During his peak years of 2002-08, Soriano averaged 36 homers and 29 steals. The last two seasons, he has a combined 10 steals in 144 games, which significantly reduces his value.

Soriano should be viewed as a No. 3 outfielder in mixed leagues and he should help you in home runs, but he hasn't driven in more than 75 runs since 2006 and he's hit better than .280 only once since 2003. If you're skeptical, you're not alone.

-- Guerrero:
He entered Thursday batting .333 with three homers, 19 RBI, three steals and an .849 OPS in his first season in Texas.

He's no longer close to the player who, in an 11-season span from 1998 to 2008, averaged 35 homers and 112 RBI. In 2001 and '02, he stole a combined 77 bases. With three more steals this year, he would have six -- or more than he's had in a season since 2006.

Guerrero's value is also limited by the fact he isn't eligible at any other position than utility. Like Soriano, he's a starting candidate. Unlike Soriano, you don't need to worry about Guerrero's batting average dipping significantly below .300 (he's a .321 career hitter whose worst norm since his rookie season was the .295 he batted in 2009).

-- Beltre: He has the worst numbers of the three, but probably the most value.

Beltre entered Thursday batting .340 with two homers, 15 RBI and an .844 OPS. He didn't have a home run in his first 18 games with the Red Sox, but is batting .439 with two homers and eight RBI in his last 10.

Beltre's nightmarish 2009 was the worst of his 12-year career, but at 31, he's three years younger than Soriano and four younger than Guerrero. And it helps that you can play him at third instead of being forced to plug him into a utility spot.

From 2002-08, Beltre averaged 27 homers and 90 RBI. His average is destined to drop (he's a career .272 hitter and he's batted above .276 only twice), but if he hits in the .275 range with more than 20 homers and 90 RBI, he's a fantasy starter.

For the latest fantasy updates, follow Kevin Kleps on Twitter.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fantasy focus: Wilson Ramos catches on quickly

Maybe you were like me and Wilson Ramos' four-hit debut Sunday was all it took for you to acquire him on the waiver wire.

If you have Joe Mauer, it seems to be a wise move. With Mauer nursing a sore heel, Ramos was 7-for-9 with two runs scored, three doubles and one RBI in his first two major-league games.

As impressive as the rookie's start is, we need to keep something in mind: By the end of the week, he'll be a part-time player at best.

Unless Mauer's injury, which has been described as a deep bone bruise, is more serious than the Twins are letting on, he should return in the next few days.

In daily leagues, keep Ramos in your lineup until Mauer is ready to play. In weekly leagues, you should have an answer by Sunday night, since the early reports are Mauer could be back relatively soon.

Ramos has been touted as one of the Twins' top two prospects, and he was impressive in spring training with Minnesota in 2010, batting .400 with two homers, six RBI and only two strikeouts in 30 at-bats.

In the minor leagues from 2006-09, the 22-year-old batted .294 with 31 home runs, 181 RBI and 143 runs in 1,122 at-bats.

Ramos could be kept on the roster when Mauer returns, unless the Twins want him to play every day in Triple-A. There aren't many at-bats to be had at designated hitter, since Minnesota already has plodders Jason Kubel and Jim Thome.

If you own Mauer, the solution is simple. If you're depending on Ramos because your production at catcher has been subpar, another player to consider is the Mets' Rod Barajas, who has six home runs and 13 RBI in 74 at-bats.

Barajas, who had 19 homers and 71 RBI in 429 at-bats with Toronto last season, will bring down your batting average (he batted .226 last season and is a .238 career hitter), but he will give you a boost in the power department.

Barajas is available in almost 88 percent of the leagues on

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