Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Miranda Warnings": Another Mets Collapse?

Welcome to "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.

National League East: On Tuesday, the Mets blew a 7-0 lead and lost to Philadelphia 8-7. Ironically, the Mets blew a 7-game mid-September NL East lead over the Phils in 2007 and failed to the make the playoffs. Will history repeat itself, just one year later? The ingredients are definitely in play for another Mets collapse. P's John Maine (shoulder) and Billy Wagner (elbow) are both, potentially, lost for the year and the Mets bullpen is in shambles. If the Mets stay afloat, it'll be thanks to their high-octane offense. If, however, the Mets take another September nosedive, you can expect the Mets organization to break-up this current roster... Atlanta P Jair Jurrjens (3 IP, 6 hits, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) had a rare bad outing Tuesday, versus Florida. After turning in five straight quality starts (minimum 6 IP, 3 ER or less), Jurrjens has stumbled a bit in his last two starts (12 hits, 10 ER). Jurrjens should bounce back Sunday versus Washington... We're watching the emergance of a stud in Florida. P Ricky Nolasco (7 1/3 IP, 3 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K) was filthy again Sunday, this time versus Arizona. Believe me, filthy is the right word. In his last six starts, Nolasco has a 51/3 K/BB ratio (Yes, 51 to 3 !). Keep Nolasco on your radar on D-Day 2009... More often than not, a player doesn't live up to lofty expectations. Washington OF Austin Kearns fits the bill. The Nats placed Kearns (foot) on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 25. This is Kearns' second DL stint this season. He missed 38 games earlier this season after having elbow surgery. Kearns was a highly touted prospect with Cincinnati in 2005, but he's been a bust ever since... Philadelphia SS Jimmy Rollins was a beast versus the Mets Tuesday. Rollins was 5-for-7, with a homer, three RBI's and three SB's. Wow! Rollins has had a very disappointing 2008, but don't forget about him down the stretch in 2008 and in 2009. J-Ro has plenty of quality seasons left.

National League Central: Houston P Wandy Rodriguez (7 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K) was sensational Tuesday versus Cincinnati. Houston has been very patient with Rodriguez, waiting for him to show his potential. This dominating start is a step in the right direction. Rodriguez has respectable numbers (7-6, 3.94 ERA), but needs to be more consistent and less steaky, to be a reliable fantasy starting pitcher... Milwaukee 1B Prince Fielder went 3-for-6, with two RBIs and a run scored versus St. Louis on Tuesday. Fielder has been cold lately (3-for-25 in his last seven games), but has managed 19 RBI's in August. Fielder is nowhere near his 50-homer 2007 pace, but he's a talented young slugger who can carry the Brewers (and your fantasy team) for weeks at a time... St. Louis closer Chris Perez threw 1 1/3 perfect innings Sunday versus Atlanta, for his fifth save. Perez, who has now converted 5 of 6 save chances, continues to dazzle, while adding stability to a horrid Cardinals bullpen. With injured closer Jason Isringhausen (elbow) potentially done for the year, expect Perez to get lots of save opportunities down the stretch. Speaking of the St. Louis bullpen, I always try to share mind-boggling stats (see Florida P Ricky Nolasco above) with my readers and here's another one: through mid-August, the St. Louis bullpen had blown a major-league high 25 saves. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has also blown 25 saves - in the past seven years (source:!... Cubs P Carlos Zambrano (4 1/3 IP, 8 hits, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) was hit hard by the Pirates on Tuesday. While still solid, Big Z is not the pitcher he once was. Zambrano's strikeout rate has decined in each of the last three seasons, indicating that a decline in his overall numbers is imminent... Pittsburgh OF Nate McLouth has had a breakthrough 2008. However, he has been dreadful in August (.262 AVG, 0 HR, 4 RBIs). It'll be interesting to see where McLouth gets drafted on D-Day 2009. I say he'll be off the board somewhere between the 7th and 10th rounds... Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto had three straight three-hit games last week and is batting .392, with two homers, six runs scored and 12 RBI's in August. On Day 2009, if you don't draft an elite first basemen, Votto is a solid "plan b". A .280-.290 BA, 20-25 HR's and 90-100 RBI's are well within his reach.

National League West: We've seen vintage Randy Johnson lately. The Arizona pitcher has been downright dominant. Johnson (7 IP, 5 hits, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 K) stymied San Diego on Wednesday, but got a no-decision. In August, the Big Unit gave us a glimpse of his dominant past (40 1/3 IP, 2.45 ERA, 47/6 K/BB ratio). Do you think the 44 year-old has anything left in the tank?... Dodgers OF Andre Ethier is someone to keep on your radar for the 2009 season. Ethier clubbed his 17th homer versus Washington on Wednesday. And, he's done it while not playing everyday. Ethier has the potential to be a great player, if he receives everyday at-bats... San Francisco P Tim Lincecum won't win the NL Cy Young, but he's gonna get lots of votes. "Franchise" (Lincecum's nickname) dominated Colorado Wednesday (7 2/3 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K) improving to 15-3... San Diego OF Jody Gerut (.297 BA, 14 HR's, 43 RBI's) is a viable pickup in deep fantasy leagues. Gerut went 3-for-4, with an RBI, one run scored and a stolen base in Wednesday's win over Arizona. Gerut has hit safely in his last five games, going 7-for-22, with one HR, and five RBI's... Colorado closer Brian Fuentes was placed on the bereavement list (a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven). The Rockies have announced that Manny Corpas will fill the closer's role in the interim. If you need some saves, pick up Corpas

American League East: Toronto P A.J. Burnett is 6-1, with a 3.66 ERA in the second-half. It's no coincidence that Burnett is turning it on now. He has an "opt-out" in his contract, which allows him to bolt the Blue Jays at the end of the 2008 season... Baltimore 3B Melvin Mora is having a monster season. I never thought I'd use the words "Melvin Mora" and "monster" in the same sentence, but he deserves it. Mora went 3-for-4, with a homer and two runs scored Wednesday against Chicago. Mora has two homers in his last three games and six in his last eleven, with twelve RBI's! Are you ready for this? Mora is batting .427, with eight homers and 32 RBI's in August! In 2008, Mora is hitting .284, with 23 homers and 97 RBI's!... Remember Tampa OF Rocco Baldelli? Well, he's back! Baldelli went 2-for-5, with a homer, in a loss to Chicago Sunday. Baldelli is an interesting fantasy pickup for the final few weeks of the 2008 season. He's hitting .308, with two homers and four RBI's, since returning from the disabled list. Baldelli was once a big-time prospect, before several successive injuries robbed him of playing time... Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia might have put a nail in the Yankees coffin Wednesday. Pedroia went 3-for-5, with a grand slam and three runs scored. Pedroia is hitting .333, with six homers, 20 RBIs and 28 runs scored in August!... Yankees P Joba Chamberlain (shoulder) threw a bullpen session on Monday and is close to returning. But, what will Joba's role be when he returns? When Joba returns, don't be surprised to see him in the bullpen, as the Yankees look to reduce the wear and tear on his body and prepare him for 2009.

American League Central: Sometimes, injuries allow backups to shine. Case and point: Cleveland C Kelly Shoppach. Cleveland starting catcher Victor Martinez (elbow) hit the DL in mid-June, which has given Shoppach the opportunity to strut his stuff. Nobody knew that Shoppach was this good. Shoppach was 3-for-5, with a homer (#17), two runs scored and three RBI's Wednesday versus Detroit. Shoppach is now hitting .263, with 17 HR's and 46 RBI's in 2008. Upon his return (perhaps next week), Martinez could shift to first base, while Shoppach remains behind the plate. Stay tuned... I've hyped up Kansas City 3B Alex Gordon on many occasions. However, I'm beginning to lose faith. Gordon went on the disabled list Saturday with a torn right quad and is done for the year. Gordon has seen his stock plummet dramatically in 2008. He could be a buy-cheap candidate in 2009... For years, when he was with Florida, we heard that Detroit P Dontrelle Willis' violent throwing motion would lead to injuries. Willis left his Triple-A start on Monday with tightness in his left forearm. Forearm problems are, more often than not, related to elbow problems... Look for Minnesota to make OF Denard Span a permanent fixture in their everyday lineup for years to come. Span went 3-for-5, with four RBI's Friday versus the LA Angels. Span continues to rake. He's hitting .345, with 14 runs and 15 RBIs in August. The Twins have been patient with Span the last few years. It appears that their patience is now paying off... Chicago 2B Alexei Ramirez is someone to remember on D-Day 2009. Ramirez is on an 11-game tear right now, hitting .370, with five homers, 16 RBIs and 8 runs scored! I'm not completely sold on him though because he strikes out (51) way more than he walks (10), which demonstrates poor plate discipline, which doesn't bode well for long-term production.

American League West: LA Angels 2B Howie Kendrick has a history of leg problems. Kendrick left Wednesday's game with a tight left hamstring. An injury to the same hamstring kept Kendrick on the disabled list for about two months earlier in the year and cost him 42 games. Monitor this situation closely... Just in case you haven't noticed, Huston Street is no longer the Oakland closer. Brad Ziegler, who picked up his sixth save Wednesday versus the LA Angels, is the new Oakland closer... How far the mighty have fallen. Seattle P Erik Bedard (shoulder), one of the better pitchers heading into D-Day 2008, is not throwing off a mound, and there is no timetable on his return. He's had a miserable, injury-filled 2008... Don't forget about Texas C Jarrod Saltalamachia. He remains available in many leagues. Salty went 3-for-4, with an RBI and a run scored on Wednesday versus Kansas City. He's hitting .357 in August.

See you next week!

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