Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Buzz Around The Bullpen: Even He's Wondering If It's Time to Roll The Dice

Welcome back to another edition of the "Buzz Around the Bullpen." Yesterday morning I happened to be tuned into "Mike and Mike" on ESPN Radio when they began discussing an interesting topic. The question was whether announcers and/or scoreboard operators should address a "no-hitter" in progress. The discussion arose after a scoreboard operator at Jacobs Field posed a question to fans between the 7th and 8th inning about a no-hitter. The problem was that at that time, pitcher Cliff Lee had held the St. Louis Cardinals hitless through seven innings. Like clockwork, the no-hitter was broken up by the first batter in the 8th inning.

If you played baseball at any level, you know that even referring to an on-going no-hitter is sacrilegious. However, the interesting question is how far and to whom does this un-written rule extend to. I would argue that most savvy announcers have a way of addressing the situation without actually using those dreaded words. Whether it's by commenting that "we have something special going on tonight" or "the Cards haven't figured how Cliff Lee yet", there are ways to inform the fan without addressing the situation directly. However, the only way a scoreboard operator can inform the fans is by putting up a question that will pique their interest and cause them to look at the box score of the on-going game.

While I don't think that the scoreboard operator should be fired, suspended, fined or even reprimanded, you would hope that someone who is around baseball would know a little better. Maybe the scoreboard operator thinks like Mike Golic and thought that the whole "no-hitter jinx" is a joke and that no one besides the players have control. For me, I've seen the "no-hitter jinx" rear its ugly head entirely too many times not to believe in it.

For now, let's get back to some hits and a miss for the upcoming week in fantasy baseball.

Big Hits

Andrew McCutchen (OF, PIT): After the Nate McLouth trade, many Pirates fans wondered how the Pirates could replace an all-star who could run, hit and field as well as any other centerfielder in the game. We'll if he hasn't convinced them already, Andrew McCutchen is well on his way to proving that he is a future superstar. Since he was drafted out of high school, the Pirates and scouts around MLB have been raving about his potential. He can do everything at an above average level and so far, that has been translating into some nice fantasy numbers. In fact through 78 at-bats, he possesses a .333 average with 13 runs, 13 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. While I do think his average will drop down to around .300, this kid is going to continue to produce. Whether you've seen him play or not, you have take a look at this. Now go check your fantasy page and pick him up if he's somehow still available.

Khalil Greene (SS/3B): Greene's start to his Cardinals career has been nothing short of interesting. After a very rough start, Greene was placed on the DL with social anxiety disorder. Now he has returned to the Cards line-up as a third baseman; a position he is familiar with after playing there during his days at Clemson University. So far, Greene is taking a liking to his new position and has answered with 3 HRs and 5 RBIs in only 11 at-bats since his return from the DL. Before the season, I thought Khalil Greene had an opportunity to put up career numbers after leaving the dreadful hitter's park in San Diego. He has shown throughout his career that when he gets at-bats, he can produce decent power numbers. Well I'm back on the Greene bandwagon now that he will have some positional flexibility (he'll be available at SS,3B,CI,MI). It gives him some added value and will give you a chance to get 18-22 HRs from someone you can insert at the shortstop position. However, before you make a move for him, I have to give you the disclaimer on Greene. If your concerned about your team's batting average, Greene might not be the guy for you. He's an extremely streaky .246 career hitter. This doesn't bode well for your team if you're in need of consistent at-bats.

Big Miss

Daisuke Matsuzaka (SP, BOS): Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for Dice-K...they did. This past weekend Dice-K was placed back on the DL with shoulder weakness. As much as I hate to say it, it might be time to consider this season a "wash" for Dice-K. Not only are his shoulder problems lingering, there's really no rush for the Red Sox to rush him back. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they shut him down for a couple of weeks or even a month. They have John Smoltz coming back and in case that doesn't work out, the Sox have a stable of big league ready starters just waiting for their opportunity.

If the weakness/fatigue continues for the next month, don't be surprised if Dice-K undergoes an exploratory surgery to find out what might be causing his shoulder problems. That could be the final straw for Dice-K and his 2009 campaign. If you own Dice-K, I would hold on to him for another month or so. If he isn't progressing, you need to think logically about when you may get him back in your line-up. Even if he recovers quickly and the Sox deem him ready to throw again, he's going to need a couple weeks to build up his stamina and pitch count. Now you're getting into early-mid August before you'll get another start out of Dice-K. In the next couple of weeks I would look over your waiver wire. If there is someone out there that can help you now that has had consistent numbers, you may want to make the move. Remember, you have to win now to play later.

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

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