Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Miranda Warnings": Thanks Jackie and Branch!

Welcome to Week #3 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 I'm your host Michael Miranda.

Before getting to this weeks
Major League Baseball coverage, I want to take a brief moment to acknowledge Brooklyn Dodger immortals Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey (pictured above). On Tuesday, Major League Baseball celebrated the 61st anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier. Pre-game ceremonies were held throughout Major League Baseball ballparks across the country. Most teams (players, managers and coaches) wore Robinson's #42 out of respect for Robinson and to keep his memory alive.

In 1945, Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey and 1B Jackie Robinson agreed the time had come for an African-American to play Major League Baseball. The rest, as "they" say, is history. Robinson and Rickey not only paved the way for the legendary African-American ballplayers (Bob Gibson, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Barry Bonds, to name a few) that followed and not only opened the door for cultural diversity on the baseball field, but they also proved that blacks and whites could exist in the same workplace and, in doing so, they changed the landscape of America. In short, Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson's actions transcended baseball! "Thank you" to both of them!

Quick baseball trivia:
Major League Baseball has retired Jackie Robinson's #42, never to be worn again. However, one active Major League Baseball player still wears #42. Name the only active Major League Baseball player who still wears #42. The answer to this question is at the end of this weeks "Miranda Warnings".

Ok, let's get to it!

American League East: Yankee SS Derek Jeter returned to action Monday night against Tampa after missing six games with a strained left quadriceps muscle. Jeter went 2-for-5. If you benched Jeter
on your fantasy roster while he was injured, it's now safe to activate him. Another injured Yankee, C Jorge Posada, received good news. An MRI revealed that his right shoulder injury is nothing serious. Posada is listed as day-to-day. P Joba Chamberlain is out indefinitely while he spends time with his ailing father... After Tuesday's game versus Cleveland, Boston DH David "Big Papi" Ortiz is 6-for-53 with a .113 BA (none of those numbers are typos!). Talk about a great opportunity for a fantasy baseball GM to buy-low! Perhaps you can snag Big Papi away from an owner in your fantasy league who's lost faith in Ortiz! Here's the deal: if Ortiz is fully recovered from off-season knee surgery, he'll bounce back (in a big way) in the next several weeks. If the knee is still bothering him, it could be messing up his mechanics at the plate. I say, wait another week (or two) to see if he snaps out of this wretched funk that he's in... Toronto OF Vernon Wells (off-season shoulder surgery) is rebounding nicely from an injury-plagued 2007. In 14 games, Wells is hitting .345 with 3 HR's and 14 RBI's!... After a sluggish start to 2008, Baltimore Orioles OF Adam Jones (the main ingredient in the blockbuster off-season Eric Bedard trade) is beginning to show some signs of life. He went 3-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base against Toronto on Monday night... The Rays had to dig into their serious surplus of minor league pitching recently due to P Matt Garza's injury (radial nerve irritation in his right arm). Prospect P Jeff Niemann filled in for Garza this past Sunday. Niemann struck out five and walked one in six solid innings, leading Tampa Bay to a 6-2 win over Baltimore. Garza (on the 15-day DL) is expected back within two weeks.

American League Central: The Tiger's free-fall continues, as they remain in last place at 4-10. Not only is the losing mounting in Detroit, but so are the injuries. Add these guys to Detroit's walking-wounded: 1B Carlos Guillen (hamstring), P Nate Robertson (shoulder) and P Dontrelle Willis (knee). I'm gonna stick to what I said about Detroit in last weeks "Miranda Warnings": "Detroit doesn't recover from its horrid 0-7 start, they are beset by injuries and miss the playoffs, finishing 81-81, in third place in the Central Division, 14 games behind Central Division winner Cleveland". Time will tell if my Detroit prediction comes true!... Finally, P Joe Borowski is out as closer in Cleveland! A strained triceps has landed him on the DL, which opens the door for setup man Rafael Betancourt to handle ninth inning duties. Betancourt has been an elite setup man for several years and now gets the chance to strut his stuff as Cleveland closer. If you play in a shallow fantasy baseball league, Betancourt is still available. Get him! Cleveland C Victor Martinez (hamstring) seems fully healed. He's been seeing regular action lately.... What in the name of Zack Greinke has gotten into Kansas City's Zack Greinke? Listen to these numbers: He's 3-0, 24 IP, 17 hits, only 5 BB's, a sick 0.75 ERA and an equally sick 0.92 WHIP (none of those numbers are typos!). Wow! For future reference, here's another number that you need to know: Greinke has only 9 k's, which means that he doesn't blow hitters away. Greinke is definitely a solid starting pitcher. Not to take anything away from him but, with such few strike outs, hitters will eventually start to hit him. I still think he'll end up with solid final numbers in 2008. 13-15 wins is very realistic for Zack... Minnesota OF Carlos Gomez (the key ingredient in the blockbuster off-season Johan Santana trade) already has 7 SB's! Unfortunately, he's a one-category guy. He'll, most likely, only contribute SB's (and perhaps some runs too) to your fantasy team... The White Sox are off to an 8-5 start. Leading the charge for the White Sox offense has been 3B Joe Crede (16 RBI's), but don't forget about C A.J. Pierzynski, who leads Major League Baseball with a .421 BA!

American League West: According to's Aaron Gleeman, speculation has been swirling that P Erik Bedard's hip injury may be serious. The Mariners placed him on the disabled list Tuesday with inflammation. Aaron also says that although P J.J. Putz (ribs) is eligible to come off the DL Thursday, manager John McLaren said there's no timetable for his return... LA Angels 2B Howie Kendrick pulled up lame legging out a double on Sunday versus Seattle and is out indefinitely. After taking several days off to rest his ailing left ankle last week, closer Francisco Rodriguez pronounced himself healthy and promptly picked up a save versus Texas on Monday night... Texas OF Josh Hamilton, who pounded the baseball throughout spring training, continues to do the same in the regular-season. He's hitting .278 with 3 HR's and 13 RBI's. 2B Ian Kinsler, who launched 9 HR's in April 2007, has zero HR's this April... Despite the fact that they're "rebuilding", Oakland is tied with LA for first place at 9-6.

National League East: Mets GM Omar Minaya delivered grim news on Tuesday regarding starting pitcher Pedro Martinez (strained hamstring). Minaya told the NY Post that Martinez is out until at least late May and, more likely, early June. With P Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez (strained foot tendon) out indefinitely, there's even more pressure for P's Nelson Figueroa and Mike Pelfrey to fortify the back-end of the Mets starting rotation. The Mets signed ex-Brewer P Claudio Vargas to a minor league contract. Vargas is not expected to be promoted anytime soon... OF Pat Burrell has been carrying the Phillies so far. He's hitting .348 with 5 HR's and 15 RBI's. OF Shane Victorino went down with a calf injury over the weekend. He was placed on the 15-day DL. Part-time OF Jayson Werth will play more while Victorino heals... Braves OF Jeff Francoeur went bonkers this past Saturday versus Washington. "Frenchy" went 3-for-5 with 2 HR's and 7 RBI's! He's a very underrated OF, whose best years lie ahead... Although I feel that Florida P Andrew Miller will be an elite pitcher someday, he's been lit up (0-2, 11.37 ERA) in his three starts this season. If he doesn't turn it around soon, he'll find himself back in the minors... Very few Nats are hitting. Coupled with below-average pitching, the Nats are 4-10, after a 3-0 start. The only Nats worth having on your fantasy team are 1B Nick Johnson, 3B Ryan Zimmerman, OF's Lastings Milledge and Austin Kearns and, perhaps, solid setup man Jon Rauch.

National League Central: Cubs LF Alfonso Soriano is out indefinitely after injuring his calf versus the Reds Tuesday night. Expect OF Matt Murton to be recalled from the minors. Murton is very underrated. He does a little of everything and is worth adding to a fantasy team (in deep leagues), if you need OF help... Brewers OF Gabe Kapler (filling in until suspended OF Mike Cameron returns) has been in a "zone", hitting .423, with 4 HR's and 11 RBI's! P Yovanni Gallardo's rehab assignment is almost complete and he is expected to rejoin the Brewer's rotation this week... So far, so good with Cardinal 1B Albert Pujols' troublesome elbow. He's hitting .377, with 3 HR's and 8 RBI's... Houston closer Jose Valverde (1 save, 11.37 ERA, 2.53 WHIP) has been absolutely horrific. Brought in to protect a 3-0 lead versus Philadelphia Tuesday, Valverde promptly surrendered two homers and the game-winning double, resulting in a 4-3 Houston loss!... Pirate OF Jason Bay is back after a very disappointing 2007! He's hitting only .255, but already has 3 HR's, 5 RBI's and 1 SB.

National League West: Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki, the 2007 NL ROY runner-up, is suffering through the worst slump of his career. He's batting just .159, with zero HR's and zero RBI's through 47 AB's! Tulowitzki, like David Ortiz above, is an excellent buy-low candidate, if you could pry him away from another GM in your fantasy league... Speaking of buy-low candidates, get your hands on Dodger OF Matt Kemp. He should eventually beat out OF Juan Pierre for playing time in the LA outfield and have a solid 2008... Much to the shock of just about anyone who follows Major League Baseball, the Giants have managed to score a few runs "here and there" and have mustered a 6-9 record... Diamondbacks' P Micah Owings, who was a 2007 hitting sensation, is becoming a pitching sensation too. Owings is 3-0, with a 2.29 ERA. P's Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Owings and a healthy Randy Johnson could, potentially, form a devastating 1 through 4 in the D-back's starting rotation... Are you aware of what San Diego Padres pitcher Randy Wolf has done thus far? How about a 1-0 record, 19 IP's, 10 hits, 18 K's, a 1.42 ERA and 0.89 WHIP! Whew!

Trivia answer: Yankee pitcher Mariano Rivera is the only
active Major League Baseball player who wears #42.

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