Thursday, August 14, 2008

Miranda Warnings: Sittin' On The Dock of the Bay

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.

American League East: Boston OF Manny Ramirez (pictured, right) takes his act to the LA Dodgers, as part of a three-team trade (Boston, LA Dodgers, Pittsburgh). While Boston will miss his bat, his poor attitude and lackadaisical play will not be missed. His replacement, stud OF Jayson Bay (pictured, left), has posted a few impressive seasons in Pittsburgh. You may not have known that Bay had solid seasons in Pittsburgh because he played for the lowly Pirates. If Bay can put up nice numbers for the Pirates, he'll have the opportunity to do some serious damage for Boston. Bay is signed through 2009, making '09 his "contract year". Bay is my dark-horse 2009 AL MVP! Don't laugh! Bay is a big-time talent with a great skill-set. He'll have the opportunity to strut his stuff in a great lineup and great hitters ballpark for the remainder of 2008 and all of 2009... As Yankee Universe continues to drown in misery (12 loses in 18 games), not landing Johan Santana during the past off-season becomes more glaring. The Yankee rotation (Wang, Hughes, Kennedy, Chamberlain) has been devastated by injuries, lack of performance or both. The result: the Yankees have used P's Sidney Ponson, Darrell Rasner, etc. to unsuccessfully stop the bleeding... Toronto OF Vernon Wells smacked a grand slam Wednesday to lift the Blue Jays over the Tigers. Wells is now hitting .333, with one home run and seven RBI's since his return from the disabled list Sunday... Baltimore OF Nick Markakis is putting together another solid season. Markakis was 3-for-4, with two RBIs and a run scored in a win over the Indians Wednesday. Markakis is making quite a name for himself. If he didn't play in Baltimore, you'd hear much more about this soon-to-be megastar. Markakis is hitting a ridiculous .417 in August, with two homers and 19 RBI's!... Tampa OF Carl Crawford had surgery to repair a subluxation of his right middle finger tendon. There is no definitive word on a timetable for Crawford's return, but he's most likely done for the season. Tampa also lost 3B Evan Longoria to a broken wrist. The Rays are hopeful that he'll be able to return by September 1.

American League Central:
A trio of injured Cleveland players are nearing return. You need to keep these guys on your radar as they could make a difference down the stretch in 2008. 2B Josh Barfield (sprained left middle finger), Victor Martinez (right elbow inflammation and sore left hamstring) and Travis Hafner (sore right shoulder) will all begin rehab assignments within the next several days... Every season, without fail, several players come out of "nowhere" to put up ridiculous numbers. In 2008, Nate McLouth, Carlos Quentin and Ryan Ludwick have gotten the most attention. However, those players were on fantasy baseball radars heading into 2008. Mike Aviles was not. Aviles went 2-for-4, with a stolen base Saturday versus Minnesota. That was Aviles' eighth multi-hit game in his last twelve. The 27-year-old rookie shortstop is batting .455 with one homer, six runs scored and three RBI's in 33 at-bats in August, and an incredible/totally unexpected .343 in 2008!... While Detroit barely stays afloat, P Armando Galarraga continues to astound. Galarraga (8 IP, 6 hits, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) tossed a gem, defeating Toronto Thursday. Galarraga is now 4-0 over his last five starts and 11-4 in 2008!... Minnesota closer Joe Nathan is lights-out and doesn't receive the credit that he deserves. Nathan hasn't allowed a run in his last nine innings, lowering his ERA to an absurd 1.05!... Chicago 1B Paul Konerko went 3-for-5, with a homer and a stolen base versus Kansas City on Thursday. It's been a tough 2008 for Konerko, but he's hitting .333 in August. He's apparently healthy and perhaps has something to offer fantasy owners down the stretch.

American League West:
LA Angels OF Vladimir Guerrero is heating up. He's had an off-year, but went 1-for-4, with a two-run homer on Tuesday versus Seattle. In August, Vladdy is hitting .389, with four homers and 11 RBI's!... Former fantasy stud, Oakland 3B Eric Chavez' career could be over. Chavez underwent surgery on his right shoulder Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined for at least six months... Seattle OF Jeremy Reed isn't owned in most fantasy leagues, but he's someone to keep an eye on. A former top prospect, Reed went 2-for-6, with two RBI's and two runs scored in Wednesday's win over the Angels. Reed continues to rake, hitting .372 in August, with eight runs scored, while hitting safely in 13 of his last 14 games!... For the second straight season, Texas OF Marlon Byrd has heated up during the late summer. Byrd went 5-for-6, with three RBI's and four runs scored versus Boston on Tuesday. Listen to these softball-like numbers: Byrd is hitting .618, with two homers, 11 RBI's and 13 runs scored over his last eight games! He won't keep this up, but you might want to consider riding him while he's hot.

National League East: An unlikely source produced the rare cycle (single, double, triple and HR) Thursday. Atlanta OF Mark Kotsay went 5-for-5, with two RBI's, while accomplishing the rare feat. Do not let this performance fool you. Kotsay isn't much of a fantasy contributor... Florida 1B Mike Jacobs was 2-for-4, with two RBI's on Wednesday versus St. Louis. Jacobs is stroking it recently, hitting .421, with two homers and seven RBI's in his last five games... Mets closer Billy Wagner will make two rehab appearances to test his strained left forearm, before rejoining the team next week. Boy, do the Mets need him! Their bullpen has been horrific of late, with nobody stepping up during Wagner's DL-stint... Washington C Jesus Flores went 2-for-4, with an RBI in Tuesday's loss to the Mets. Flores has been a welcomed addition to a team in dire straits. If you're searching for a catcher in the late rounds on D-Day 2009, look no further than Flores. Flores is hitting a solid .272, with 8 HR's and 52 RBI's and has proven worthy of being the Nats future at the catcher position... Philadelphia SP Brett Myers (7 IP, 5 hits, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) was solid again Thursday, this time versus LA. Myers dropped to 5-10 in 2008, but is 2-1, with a 1.82 ERA in his last four trips to the mound. Myers is a solid buy-low candidate for the remainder of 2008 and 2009.

National League Central: Houston OF Carlos Lee underwent surgery on his left pinkie. Lee's finger was broken in six different places when he was hit by a Bronson Arroyo pitch. Lee was having another typical Lee year, batting .314, with 28 HR's and 100 RBI's. Lee is likely done for the season... Milwaukee starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia is pitching for one of the largest contracts in sports history. Sabathia (7 IP, 9 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K), a free agent at years end, was lights-out again Wednesday, this time against the Padres, improving to 13-8. C.C. is 7-0, with a 1.55 ERA since joining the Brewers! Can you say: "Show me the money"?... St. Louis OF Ryan Ludwick continues to play out of his mind. Ludwick went 2-for-4, with a homer and three RBI's Thursday. Ludwick is hitting .363, with 7 HR's and 16 RBI's in August! Ludwick is hitting .304, with 30 HR's and 90 RBI's in 2008 and will receive strong consideration for NL MVP... Cubs SP Rich Harden has, surprisingly, remained healthy in 2008. Harden (5 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 5 BB, 2 K) beat the Braves Wednesday, while improving to 7-2. Harden likes the NL, as he now sports a 1.80 ERA through his six starts with the Cubs... Pittsburgh SP Ian Snell (6 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 5 BB, 2 K) was solid in Thursday's loss to Cincinnati. It's been a tough season for Snell (4-10, 5.91 ERA), but he's better than he's shown in 2008. He was an up-and-comer heading into 2008, is still only 26 years old and has decent upside. Chart his progress over the final weeks of the 2008 season and don't forget about him on D-Day 2009... Another pitcher to chart over the final weeks of the 2008 season, and not forget about on D-Day 2009, is Cincinnati SP Johnny Cueto. Cueto (5 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K) defeated the Pirates Thursday to improve to 8-11 in 2008. Cueto's poor record and high ERA (4.90) is misleading. Cueto has electric stuff and will one day live up to his "baby Pedro" nickname.

National League West: Newly acquired Arizona OF Adam Dunn went 1-for-4, with two RBI's, leading the D'backs to a 6-2 victory over Colorado Thursday. If you can deal with Dunn's putrid BA (.234), he'll put up some really nice power numbers for your fantasy team... LA Dodgers OF Andruw Jones (knee) was placed on the 15-day DL. Jones' numbers (.161 BA, 3 HR's, 14 RBI's) are staggeringly (and historically) bad. Jones is signed through 2009, for $18 million! Ouch!... San Francisco SP Tim Lincecum left Tuesday game against Houston in the fifth inning after a line drive struck him in the right knee. Lincecum was diagnosed with a bone bruise and will be able to make his next scheduled start Sunday, Aug. 17 in Atlanta... San Diego SP Chris Young (strained right forearm) landed on the 15-day disabled list. This is the second DL stint of 2008 for Young. He'll most likely be shut down for the year... After tossing 12 straight scoreless innings, Colorado closer Brian Fuentes surrendered earned runs in each of his last two appearances. Despite his recent struggles and despite the fact that Colorado is a mediocre team, Fuentes has posted 22 saves and is a legit #2 or #3 fantasy closer.

See you next week.

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