Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Miranda Warnings": Mt. Steinbrenner Erupts!

Welcome to Week #4 of "Miranda Warnings", your weekly guide to what's happening in the world of Major League Baseball, from a fantasy baseball perspective. Every Wednesday morning, throughout baseball's regular season, "Miranda Warnings" will appear on SportsJudge.com. I'm your host Michael Miranda.

American League East
: This past weekend, Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner (pictured above, left) stirred up controversy regarding P Joba Chamberlain's (pictured above, right) role saying that only "an idiot" would keep him as a setup guy. After conferring with GM Brian Cashman and Manager Joe Girardi, cooler heads prevailed. Joba remains as setup man to closer Mariano Rivera until the All-Star Break, at the earliest. Steinbrenner's concern stems from the fact that the Yankee starting rotation is "hurting". Young guns Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy are struggling mightily. However, converting Chamberlain from setup man to starter would leave a gaping hole in the 7th and 8th inning, a role that Joba has thrived in since reaching the Major Leagues in late 2007. As long as Joba remains a setup man, he should only be active in the deepest of fantasy baseball leagues. If/when Joba joins the Yankee starting rotation, he must be activated in all fantasy leagues. Chamberlain possesses an arsenal of four pitches which could, potentially, make him a dominant starting pitcher... Cooler heads prevailed regarding Joba Chamberlain's role with the Yankees, but cooler heads did not prevail in Toronto as the Blue Jays suddenly (and unexpectedly) released disgruntled DH Frank Thomas. On Saturday, Thomas was informed that he would no longer be Toronto's primary DH. Obviously, the news did not sit well with the future Hall of Famer. On Sunday, the "big hurt" was granted his unconditional release. Look for Thomas to sign with an AL team within the next few weeks, if not days. Oakland and Seattle are both likely targeting Thomas. Look for the Blue Jays to call up prospect Adam Lind, who will get the majority of AB's at DH. If/when Lind gets called up, he deserves a look on your fantasy roster, if you need a hitter. Lind has stellar minor league credentials and if Toronto gets him regular AB's, I predict a .275 - .285 BA, 10-15 HR's and 65 RBI's in 2008. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted in most fantasy baseball leagues!... Boston LF Manny Ramirez is on a rampage. He's hitting .342, 6 HR's, 20 RBI's and is the Major League leader with a "sick" 1.093 OPS!... Baltimore closer George Sherrill is a perfect sell-high candidate. Sherrill has 6 saves already, but the O's are rebuilding and their recent success won't continue long-term. When the 2008 season ends, the O's will be one of the worst teams in baseball. Meaning, moving forward, Sherill won't have as many save opportunities as he's had recently. Again, sell-high!... The Tampa Bay Rays made a wise move locking up 3B Evan Longoria with a six-year, $17.5 million contract that could be worth up to $44.5 million over nine seasons. Longoria will, in short time, be the "face" of the Rays.

American League Central
: Cleveland SP, and 2007 AL Cy Young, C.C. Sabathia (0-3, 13.50 ERA, 2.56 WHIP) was pummeled in his first four starts, but you wouldn't know it by how he dominated Kansas City on Tuesday. The Indians defeated KC 15-1 as C.C. threw 6 innings, allowed 4 hits, 0 runs, walked 2 and had 11 K's!... Detroit SP Justin Verlander, another stud pitcher who was off to rough start in 2008, also bounced back on Tuesday night with a solid effort. Verlander defeated Texas 10-2 (6 IP, 6 hits, 1 ER, 2 BB's, 3 K's)... Kansas City OF David DeJesus returned to the starting lineup Tuesday as the Royals slide hit five games losing to Cleveland, 15-1. Bothered by a left ankle sprain and jammed left big toe, DeJesus has missed significant playing time recently, with Joey Gathright filling in. MLB.com reports that DeJesus has started just six of the Royals' 20 games. DeJesus and Gathright are both decent #5 OF's on a fantasy roster. Gathright provides more value because of his great speed... Who says "nobody's perfect!"? Minnesota closer Joe Nathan has been just that, perfect! Nathan is 6-for-6 in save opportunities!... Thanks to the strong play of OF Carlos Quentin ( 4 HR's, 15 RBI's), the Chicago White Sox optioned OF Jerry Owens to Triple-A Charlotte this past weekend when he was activated from the disabled list. Expect Owens to stay in the minors for the foreseeable future.

American League West
: Where does LA Angels OF Vladimir Guerrero rank amongst baseball's greatest? You decide. In the history of Major League Baseball, only 2 players have hit .300+, with 25+ HR's, for 10 straight seasons. The two players are Babe Ruth and Vladimir Guerrero! Vlad is off to a decent start in 2008 (.275 BA, 2 HR's, 12 RBI's). Don't worry though, he'll start heating up before too long... Seattle closer J.J. Putz came off the disabled list Tuesday night and promptly closed the door on the O's for his second save. Speaking of returning from the DL, Erik Bedard will return to the Mariners' rotation on Saturday against Oakland... As I've mentioned in recent "Miranda Warnings", Texas' pitching is dreadful and it's the pitching that has led to their recent five game losing streak. P Vicente Padilla was the latest starter to take a pounding, surrendering 8 hits and 7 ER in only 3 IP in the Rangers 10-2 loss to Detroit. You shouldn't, under any circumstances, have a Texas SP on your fantasy baseball roster... Rotoworld.com reports that Oakland A's RP Santiago Casilla still hasn't allowed a run in 11 innings this season. Casilla might be emerging as the #2 man in Oakland's bullpen, behind closer Huston Street. Casilla has a 14/1 K/BB ratio and can be helpful in AL-only fantasy leagues.

National League East
: Mets SP Nelson Figueroa had his first rough outing Tuesday versus the Cubs (5 IP, 7 hits, 3 ER, 5 BB's and 2 K's), since joining the rotation. Despite his overall success, do not consider Figueroa a reliable starting pitcher for your fantasy roster, but do keep him on your fantasy radar. Figueroa is in the Mets rotation due to injuries to SP's Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez. If/when the Mets starting rotation gets healthy, Figueroa may have earned himself a spot in the Mets suspect bullpen... Philadelphia SS, and 2007 NL MVP, Jimmy Rollins re-aggravated his injured left ankle and finally landed on the DL on Sunday. Rollins didn't start 10 straight games (making 4 PH appearances during that span) and should've been DL'd upon tweaking his ankle April 8th. Instead, the Phillies took a day-to-day approach with J-Ro and will now be without him until late April/early May... Beware, if you have Washington Nationals closer Chad Cordero on your fantasy roster. According to MLB.com, Cordero will have his right shoulder examined by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday afternoon. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. In the meantime, Jon Rauch continues to serve as Nats closer... The "rebuilding" Marlins lead the NL East with a 12-8 record!... Keep an eye on Atlanta SP Tim Hudson. His fastball decreased 4-5 mph in an ugly start last week versus Florida (3 IP, 6 hits, 4 ER). He did bounce back with a decent effort Monday versus Washington (6.2 IP, 10 hits, 1 ER). Hudson defeated the Nats 7-3. Congrats to Atlanta SP John Smoltz, who recorded his 3000th career strikeout against Washington. 3000 K's is quite impressive, but even more impressive when you consider that Smoltz has had four (yes, four) elbow surgeries in his career! Wow!

National League Central
: In an apparent effort to have closer Eric Gagne's arm fall off, Brewers Manager Ned Yost used Gagne on Tuesday for the fifth time in six days! Gagne blew the save, but the Brewers rallied to defeat the Cards, 9-8, in extra innings. In an era where pitchers are babied (limited innings, strict pitch counts, etc.), I am clueless as to why Yost is using Gagne so much. Hopefully, this doesn't come back to haunt the Brewers later in the season. Although Milwaukee says that SP Ben Sheets (strained triceps) is expected to miss only one start (and avoid the DL), I say he ends up on the DL sooner, rather than later... In extra innings versus Milwaukee, the Cards were running out of players and put 1B Albert Pujols at 2B!... Surprising Pittsburgh OF Nate McLouth (.365 BA) went hitless Tuesday night (0-for-2) against the Marlins, ending his 19-game hitting streak. It's the longest hitting streak in the Majors this season... MLB.com reports that Alfonso Soriano (calf strain) plans to return May 1st... ESPN's Peter Gammons reports that if the Houston Astros' fall out of the playoff picture, SP Roy Oswalt might be willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to a contender... Cincinnatti 1B Joey Votto hit his 4th HR Monday, went 3-for-4 Tuesday, and has taken over the full-time gig at 1B over platoon partner Scott Hatteberg.

National League West
: Despite hitting a HR over the weekend versus his old team, Atlanta, LA Dodger OF Andruw Jones has been absolutely dreadful in 2008. In 64 AB's, Jones is hitting .156! Ouch! I don't recommend buying-low on Jones because his hitting funk dates back to early 2007!... Colorado closer Manny Corpas (3 ER, 3rd BS) was lit up by the Phillies Tuesday night. His ERA now stands at 6.55!... San Francisco OF Fred Lewis (.338 BA) continues to impress. Lewis can do a little bit of everything and is worth considering as a #5 fantasy OF... After defeating the Giants Monday, Arizona SP Micah Owings is 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA!... San Diego SP Jake Peavy is human (ND, 6 IP, 7 hits, 4 ER versus Houston Tuesday).

See you next week!

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