Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Buzz Around The Bullpen: You Better Motte Miss Out on This Guy

Welcome back to another edition of the “Buzz Around the Bullpen”. I know I’ve said in the past that September might be the greatest month for sports. But now that it’s here, early April may be just as incredible. For me, the most exciting part is the start of the Major League Baseball season, but the buzz surrounding the upcoming NFL draft, the NCAA Basketball Championship, and the last couple of games of the NHL season certainly can keep a true sports fan busy.

I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for the start of the 2009 season. So without further ado, let’s play some ball and let’s talk about some hits and misses for the first week of the 2009 MLB baseball season.

Big Hits

Jason Motte (RP, STL): As I write this, I'm watching my hometown Buccos light up Jason Motte for a ninth inning comeback. While this doesn't bode well for the young closer, one game is not going to change veteran manager Tony LaRussa's mind. If you need some more convincing, take a look at Motte’s Spring Training numbers. He managed to record 15 Ks in 10 1/3 innings and he was dominant at times. Although he got hit around a bit in the opener, Motte has electric stuff and this one bad outing is not enough to give up on him. He’s still available in about one third of all leagues and I look for him to rebound immediately from this first bad outing.

Travis Ishikawa (1B, SF): If you’re reading this name for the first time, you’re in the vast majority. Ishikawa has burst onto the scene in San Francisco hitting a ridiculous 7 HRs in Spring Training. Because of his hot bat, he has earned the starting job at 1B for San Francisco and is set to get a ton of at-bats in ’09. Last year between Double A and the Major Leagues, Ishikawa hit 27 HRs in only 500 at-bats. It will be interesting to see how Ishikawa deals with Major League pitching on a daily basis but for right now, he’s definitely worth a flier if you’re in need of some cheap power. He’s only owned in 25% of leagues so you may have the luxury of waiting a week or two on him. I like what I’ve seen from this guy and I’d definitely own if I had some roster room.

Fernando Rodney (RP, DET): The second (see above) example already this year of why I always advise readers not to pay for saves. With Joel Zumaya on the shelf and Brandon Lyon pitching poorly in Spring Training, skipper Jimmy Leyland has named Rodney as his opening day closer. Rodney will have to pitch well to keep his job because he’ll be feeling the pressure from Lyon, a rehabbing Zumaya, and a young stud named Ryan Perry. For the time being, Rodney is not a bad option for owners like me who thought Carlos Marmol was the hands-on favorite for the Cubbies closer job.

Big Misses

Jeremy Bonderman (SP, DET): I’m still not sure why, but I took a chance on Bonderman in the SportsJudge.com fantasy league with one of my last picks. At the time, it seemed like it could be a great value pick. However, I forgot one thing…he’s Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman hasn’t pitched over 180 innings since 2006. In 2006, he recorded his lowest season ERA which was an extremely mediocre 4.08. His career WHIP is 1.39 and he’s never won more than 14 games in one season. Somehow I got doped into drinking the Kool-Aid and thought that the season coming off an extensive circulatory surgery would be the perfect time for a breakout season. Needless to say, right now he’s stashed on my DL but he will be out of the door as soon as my fourth outfielder develops even a hang nail. I would stay away at all costs and until he proves otherwise, he’s not worth owning.

Joe Mauer (C, MIN): Unlike Bonderman, Mauer is obviously still worth owning. However, I included him on this list because I believe his back problem is and will be a much bigger issue for him in ’09. Most media outlets are predicting Mauer to miss the first few weeks of the season but I have to believe Mauer will miss at least the first month or two. Even if Mauer is able to come back in the next couple of weeks, he will definitely be behind schedule as he did not take an at-bat during Spring Training. Being that he is a catcher, one has to assume that this will be a reoccurring issue all season. When healthy Mauer is among the top 3-5 catchers in the league but a sore back/pelvis does not bode well for any hitter. If I’m a Mauer owner, I’m scouring the waiver wire or making a small move for a catcher like Ramon Hernandez or Mike Napoli who can give you great production during Mauer’s absence.

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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