Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Buzz Around The Bullpen: A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned....Run

Welcome back to another edition of the “Buzz Around the Bullpen”. First off, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Nothing says Father’s Day like sitting back and watching Tiger walk to the first tee on virtually one leg knowing that he is still better than everyone else. I like Tiger by 2 strokes but then again, two weeks ago I said Dontrelle Willis was a sleeper. Now Dontrelle is hanging out in Lakeland, Florida wondering how and the heck he ended up there. Well forgive me on my Dontrelle call and lets hope this week’s suggestions pan out a little better for you.

Big Hits

Ryan Garko (1B, Cleveland Indians): Garko has been on fire in June and look for him to be much more consistent in the second half. The past two years Garko has hit around .290 in limited at-bats for the Indians. He managed to hit 21 HRs last year in only 484 ABs. Cleveland’s lineup will be potent again after they recover from all of the injuries. For right now though, Garko needs to step up and carry some of the load. He is still available in over 30% of leagues. I could see Garko heating up in the summer and finishing with around 23 HRs.

Chase Headley (3B/OF, San Diego Padres): If you went anywhere near a fantasy baseball website today, you were already suffocated with this guy’s name. But like some of the other young studs that have gotten the call this year, Headley deserves the buzz. In Triple-A this year, Headley has already put up some impressive numbers. At Triple-A Portland, Headley was hitting .305 with 13 HRs. Before getting the call to the “bigs”, he was on pace to smash his HR total from last year. Often times you see young hitters’ homerun numbers increase from year to year. This is a great sign for prospective Headley owners. Those that have seen him hit recently believe he is developing a pretty sweet power stroke. I know a lot of you are worried about him having to play at Petco but don’t be alarmed. Headley is not just a blast or bust type hitter. In just 259 at-bats, Headley accumulated 24 doubles and carried an average above .300. One thing that will not be a problem for Headley is getting playing time. Look for Headley to start immediately in the outfield and also get some time at 3B.

Ryan Doumit (C, Pittsburgh Pirates): Once known around the Pirates organization as Ryan “No-mitt”, Doumit has been unreal since coming back from a broken thumb. No one has ever doubted Doumit’s natural ability. However, in years past, teammates compared him to “Stiffler” from the “American Pie” movies. Something tells me this “Stiffler” like attitude might have held him back. It seemed like things finally clicked for Doumit when he showed up at Spring Training in shape and more prepared to handle a young pitching staff. His hard work paid off as he snatched the starting job off of the often complacent Ronny Paulino. Doumit has shown power from both sides of the plate in years past but his approach and patience have made the difference this year. Doumit owns an impressive .349 average with 9 HRs in 132 at-bats. If Doumit can stay healthy which has always been a big question with him, look for him to finish as one of the top offensive catchers in the league.

Honorable Mention

Kelly Shoppach (C, Cleveland Indians): .(244 avg, 4 HRs, 11 RBIs, 14 runs)
Jorge Cantu (1B/3B, Florida Marlins): (.286 avg, 14 HRs, 39 RBIs, 41 runs, 2 SBs)
Armando Galarraga (SP, Detroit Tigers): (6-2, 3.31 ERA, 44 Ks, 1.03 WHIP)
Jonathan Sanchez (SP, San Francisco Giants): (6-3, 4.26 ERA, 80 Ks, 1.44 WHIP)

Big Miss

Brad Penny (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers): Penny confirmed after his start last night what most of his owners have been thinking for about the past two months. Penny stated that something does not feel right with his throwing shoulder. As a pitcher who is known to dominate in the first half of the season, it has been clear for at least his past seven starts that something was wrong with Brad Penny. Penny is now carrying an ERA near six and his record has fallen to 5-9. I don’t believe this is something Penny can recover from this year. Often times when pitchers have injured their shoulder, they begin to “toy” with their delivery to alleviate some of the stress on their injured arm. Unfortunately, they often end up hurting themselves even worse because the workload of their delivery is then put on their elbow. I look for the Dodgers to be extremely precautious with Penny and look for at least a 15-day trip to the DL. Don’t be surprised if Penny gets shut down until well after the All-Star break. As far as fantasy implications, I don’t see many buyers of Brad Penny right now. If you are an owner like myself, hang onto him and hope the MRI tomorrow does not show any structural damage.

As with any SportsJudge articles, please feel free to post any questions or comments. Until next time, keep your ears open for the Buzz Around the Bullpen.

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