Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Miranda Warnings": Thanks Mike!

Welcome to Week #8 of "Miranda Warnings", your weekly guide to what's happening in the world of Major League Baseball, from a fantasy baseball perspective. Every Wednesday, throughout baseball's regular season, "Miranda Warnings" will appear on I'm your host Michael Miranda.

Mike Piazza, who set the Major League record for home runs by a catcher, formally announced his retirement from baseball on Tuesday. Piazza was a 62nd (yes, 62nd!) round selection by the Dodgers in the 1988 First Year Player Draft (player #1,390 chosen overall!) and the rest, as "they" say, is history! Piazza's 16-year career produced 427 homers (396 as a catcher) , a lifetime .308 BA and countless fantasy baseball championships! Thanks for the memories, Mike!

American League East:
The Yankees were bludgeoned by the Orioles on Tuesday night, 12-2. The Yanks are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and dead-last in the AL East, 7 1/2 games behind division-leader Boston. With their pitching staff in ruins, do you think the Yanks regret not acquiring Johan Santana in the off-season?... Orioles P Daniel Cabrera was impressive again on Tuesday, holding the Yankees to two earned runs on five hits, with four strikeouts, over seven innings. Most notably, DC didn't walk a batter in tossing his eighth consecutive quality start (6 or more IP, 3 ER or less) to improve to 5-1 on the year. If your fantasy baseball team(s) need pitching, DC is worth a look... P Bartolo Colon returns to the Major Leagues on Wednesday, for the first time since 2007, this time in a Boston Red Sox uniform. He'll face the light-hitting Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park... Tampa Bay Rays 2B Akinori Iwamura is on a 17-game hitting streak!... Toronto closer B.J. Ryan struck out two as he slammed the door on the Phillies this past Sunday. Ryan is now 9-for-9 in save opportunities in 2008 as he continues his incredible comeback from Tommy John surgery.

American League Central: Tigers 2B Placido Polanco went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI Tuesday. With consecutive multi-hit games, Polanco has raised his average from .265 to .285... Recovering from early season struggles, C.C. Sabathia turned in another strong effort in Tuesday's loss to the White Sox (7 IP, 7 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K's). Sabathia fell to 3-6... In that game, White Sox P Jose Contreras continued to impress. Or, should I say amaze? Contreras allowed only 1 ER, 4 hits, 1 BB, while striking out 4 in 6 IP, defeating the Indians 4-1, to improve to 5-3. Contreras' ERA dropped to 3.17 and he's available in many fantasy leagues... Minnesota P Francisco Liriano had another solid outing (7 IP, 8 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K's) for Triple-A Rochester Tuesday. While Liriano was impressive, there is no timetable for his return to the Twins... If the Royals are going to succeed, they need better numbers from their core youth. One of those "core" players is DH Billy Butler. Butler has huge upside, but has struggled in 2008. He has a .269 BA, 1 HR and 18 RBI's, meager numbers compared to his upside (.300 BA, 25+ HR's, 90+ RBI's).

American League West: Angels 1B Casey Kotchman has cooled off after a hot start in April, but his overall numbers (.312 AVG, 6 HR, 9 2B, 21 R, 26 RBIs) indicate that he's a decent 1B option. If your fantasy team is in need of a backup 1B, Kotchman is your man. In future seasons, Kotchman projects to be a solid starting 1B, if he can increase his power numbers... Oakland DH Frank Thomas homered in Tuesday's loss to the Rays and has three homers in the last two games, proving that Toronto made a mistake releasing the slugger in April. Although Thomas is hitting a low .237, he's still got muscle with 6 HR's and 25 RBI's... When a team is going "nowhere", as is the case with the Mariners, they should promote their youth and give them an extended look at the major league level to see what they're capable of. After playing only 15 games, the M's optioned C/DH Jeff Clement to Triple-A Tacoma Sunday. While Clement hit just .167 with two RBIs, four runs scored and 20 strikeouts in 15 games after being called up at the end of April, he is considered a huge part of their future and deserved more than a 15 game trial to prove himself. This is an example of why the M's are a poorly run organization... I recently mentioned that Texas manager Ron Washington was insistent that C.J. Wilson was his closer. Washington may want to reconsider Texas' closer situation after Wilson blew his second save of the season Monday, surrendering 1 hit, 1 ER and 2 BB's versus the Twins. The poor outing raised Wilson's ERA to 5.03. P's Eddie "everyday" Guardado and Joaquin Benoit may see some save opportunities in the near future.

National League East: Just when you thought the Mets had turned the corner by sweeping the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, they returned to their lifeless ways, getting swept by the Braves in a double-header Tuesday. On the final play of the second game, OF Ryan Church suffered a mild concussion, taking a knee to the head from SS Yunel Escobar, while attemtping to breakup a double-play. Church's second concussion in as many months will likely lead to a DL stint... Braves P Jorge Campillo put a nail in the Mets coffin, winning the second game of the DH. Campillo, pitching sparingly as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, was brilliant (6 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K's), while registering his first career win... Phillies P Cole Hamels (7 IP, 4 hits, 11 K's) threw seven shutout innings, in a no-decision versus Washington Tuesday. After battling elbow troubles in 2007, Hamels (5-3, 2.61 ERA) has rebounded nicely in 2008. He's a great ace for any fantasy team... Marlins 2B Dan Uggla continued his torrid hitting, launching his 14th home run of the season, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored, Tuesday versus Arizona. Uggla has six homers in his last nine games!... Washington Nationals P Jon Rauch continues to flourish in the unfamiliar role of closer, while regular closer Chad Cordero rehabs his shoulder. Rauch has recorded eight consecutive save opportunities!

National League Central: Milwaukee OF Mike Cameron was 3-for-4, with a two-run homer, on Tuesday versus Pittsburgh. The three hits lifted Cameron's BA to .230. He also has five homers and 14 RBIs on the year. Nice numbers from a guy who missed the first 25 games serving a suspension, handed down by Major League Baseball last season after a second positive test for a banned stimulant... St. Louis P Joel Pineiro was impressive (5 2/3 IP, 6 hits, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K's), despite losing to San Diego 3-2 Tuesday. He's a decent back-of-the-rotation fantasy starter... Cubs P Ryan Dempster made one mistake Tuesday versus Houston, and it cost the Cubs the game. The mistake, a Hunter Pence grand slam. Dempster lost 4-2, giving up four earned runs on six hits with five strikeouts Tuesday. It was only the second time in 2008 that Dempster has given up more than three earned runs in an outing... Pittsburgh OF Jason Bay's power resurgence continues. Bay was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer off Brewers closer Eric Gagne on Tuesday. Bay has homered in three of his last five games to give him 10 in 2008... Reds fifth starter Matt Belisle was strong (6 IP, 7 hits, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K's), while losing to the Dodgers Tuesday. Despite dropping to 1-4, Belisle's rotation spot is secure as Homer Bailey has struggled mightily in his last two Triple-A starts... Houston OF Michael Bourn stole a base on Monday, giving him 19 SB's in 2008. But, he can't hit a lick (.196 BA!).

National League West: Dodger OF Andruw Jones will likely require surgery for a slight cartilage tear in his right knee. Jones also has a cyst behind that same knee. It's unknown when Jones will undergo surgery for both ailments, but when he does, he'll miss 4-6 weeks. This is a good time for Jones to address his right knee while, at the same time, taking a mental break from his woeful 2008 (.167 BA, 2 HR's, 7 RBI's)... San Francisco OF Randy Winn extended his hitting streak to 15 games Tuesday versus Colorado, going 1-for-4, with a stolen base and two runs scored. Winn is a decent low-end fantasy outfielder... Padres 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff stroked a three-run homer in Tuesday's win over the Cardinals. "Kouz" (.269 BA, 4 HR's, 17 RBI's) has struggled a bit in 2008 and the Padres desperately need his bat to get going, in order to get their pathetic offense headed in the right direction... If you're looking for a cheap source of SB's, Colorado OF Scott Podsednik is your man. Pods went 2-for-4 with a stolen base and a run scored in Tuesday's loss to the Giants. Pods doesn't play everyday, but he's hitting .293, has 7 SB's in 2008 and is available in most fantasy baseball leagues... The feel-good story of the week (and, perhaps the year!) is Arizona P Doug Davis' return from thyroid cancer. Davis returns later this week (May 23) versus Atlanta, a little more than one month after having surgery to remove a cancerous thyroid. Davis replaces rookie phenom Max Scherzer in Arizona's starting rotation.

See you next week!

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