Monday, August 11, 2008

The Buzz Around the Bullpen: Will Ziegler Steal Some Opportunities Right Off the Street?

Welcome back to another edition of the “Buzz Around the Bullpen”. One thing has come apparent over the past two weeks. As much as we may question some General Managers throughout the league, it is clear that these guys know exactly what they are doing. While fans questioned whether Jason Bay could fill the shoes of superstar Manny Ramirez, he has answered by hitting an impressive .343 with a .410 OBP. The only guy that has benefited from a change of scenery more than Bay is the guy he was traded for. Since his trade to the Dodgers, Manny Ramirez has been nothing short of outstanding. He is hitting a ridiculous .485 with an astronomical .528 OBP. It’s good to see Manny finally getting back to doing what he does best. As a fan, it was getting old watching “Manny being Manny” as opposed to watching him build on his resume as one of the greatest hitters of all-time.

Big Hits

Denard Span (OF, Minnesota Twins): Span has officially played his way into the Twins’ starting lineup. After his recent offensive tear this past week, manager Ron Gardenhire stated that Span would continue to lead-off and play “somewhere” even after the return of Michael Cuddyer. Over Span’s last four games, he has 7 hits and 6 RBIs and has continued to play strong defensively. While Span has bounced between the minors and the bigs this year, it seems as though he is in Minnesota to stay. Since his most recent call to the big leagues, Span has hit .330 and has added 2 HRs and 14 RBIs. Span would be a nice pickup down the stretch and would be an even nicer addition if you’re in a keeper league. This guy has star potential and could be an anchor in your outfield for years to come.
Jeff Karstens (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates): The national media immediately focused on how awful the Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte trade was for the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, Karstens has made new Buccos’ GM Neal Huntington look like a genius in just his first two starts. Karstens has pitched 15 scoreless innings against two elite NL teams. In his last start against Arizona, he pitched 7 2/3 perfect innings. Since his arrival in Pittsburgh, Karstens has been everything and more that the Pirates starting rotation has desperately needed. It will be interesting to see how Karstens pitches for the remainder of the season. As we’ve seen before, young pitchers sometimes struggle under the bright lights of New York City. The move to Pittsburgh might be just what Karstens needed to flourish as a productive major league starter. In the past two weeks, Karstens’ ownership has gone up by over 40%. He is a two start pitcher this week so be sure to make a move now and hope that Karstens continues to stay hot.

Brad Ziegler (RP, Oakland Athletics): Ziegler has been one of the most underrated stories of this season. In 37 innings pitched this season, Ziegler has not given up an earned run. It is even more impressive that Ziegler is just a rookie. With the recent struggles of closer Huston Street, Ziegler may be in line for some more save opportunities. This past Friday, Ziegler recorded his first major league save by pitching a scoreless 8th and 9th inning. I would look for the A’s to continue to give Ziegler more opportunities as Street struggled once again on Sunday against the Tigers. Like Karstans, his ownership increased significantly this week but he is still available in most leagues. If he is on your radar, get him now because after another save opportunity, it might be too late.

Big Miss

Huston Street (RP, Oakland Athletics): Every fantasy performance has an equal and opposite fantasy reaction. It is something that I have found to be true in any fantasy sport that I have participated in. If a player struggles, someone else will benefit from an opportunity. Unfortunately, Street is the player that has been awful and Brad Ziegler has been a beneficiary. Once viewed as a rising young closer, Street has been inconsistent over his past two seasons. Last year Street was plagued by injuries and was only able to record 16 saves. This season Street has never been more ordinary. Before giving up 3 earned runs in only 1 IP Sunday, Street had blown 4 of his last 15 save opportunities. I look for Street to begin to lose more opportunities to Ziegler. His ownership has dropped almost 10% in leagues and as his opportunities diminish, look for Street to continue to be dropped/traded.
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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