Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Buzz Around The Bullpen: Two Young Guns, A Vet and a Guy Struggling to Make It Work In Chi-Town

Welcome back to another edition of the "Buzz Around the Bullpen." This past week my Pittsburgh Pirates continued their rebuilding process by pulling the trigger on a surprise move, sending outfielder Nate McLouth to Atlanta for three minor leaguers. At first glance I was somewhat critical of the deal but the more time I have to think about it, I'm actually confident that Pirates' management might actually have a plan for the first time in 15+ years. Since GM Neal Huntington's arrival to Pittsburgh, he's traded away the likes of Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, and Nate McLouth. If you take away Nady's health issues this season, you're looking at one of the top offensive outfields in the Major Leagues. For a team that hasn't won since slap bracelets were cool, you can only imagine the outcry from fans.

In fact, while the Penguins are in the middle of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Nate McLouth negative trade talk is getting equal play on Pittsburgh sports talk radio. Although you hate to see a disappointed fan base, it amazes me that this many people actually care about a team that hasn't won since Sid Bream beat Barry Bonds' throw at homeplate to capture the NLCS. Seriously, take a minute and think about how long ago that was.

The purpose of this Pittsburgh Pirates rant wasn't to impose my "yinzeritis" (check this out if you've never been to Pittsburgh) on all of you; but it was to show that despite what the national media portrays, Pittsburgh is a baseball town and we would love to support a winner. Like was said in the "Field of Dreams", "if you build it, they will come." Pirates fan can only hope Neal Huntington can pull off a pretty good Ray Kinsella impersonation.
For now, let's get back to some hits and a miss for the upcoming week in fantasy baseball.

Big Hits

Vin Mazzaro (SP, OAK): A couple of weeks ago, the "Buzz Around the Bullpen" featured young A's starter Josh Outman. Over his past several starts, Outman has continued to pitch well and has improved his record to an impressive 4-0. Now this week, let's take a look at another young gun that has made his move into the A's rotation. Vin "don't call me Diesel" Mazzaro has stepped in and has been about as close to perfect as you possibly could be over your first two major league starts. In a little under 14 innings, Mazzaro has an ERA of 0.00 and has registered 5 K's as well. The only criticism of Mazzaro after his first start was his high walk rate as he gave up 4 free passes over 6 and 1/3 innings. Mazzaro answered his critics by walking zero in his last outing which last 7 and 1/3 innings. As a result of the strong pitching performances of Mazzaro and Outman, the A's are currently on a 7 game winning steak. The more national media attention the A's get, the more you'll hear about Mazzaro and Outman. I would suggest that you make your move on them now before someone else does.

Antonio Bastardo (SP, PHI): When Brett Myers went down, the Phils looked in-house and promoted young lefty Antonio Bastardo to take his spot in the rotation. Nothing like getting promoted to fill some pretty big shoes. Fortunately for Phils fans, Bastardo has done so and more through his first two major league starts. Like Mazzaro, Bastardo has transitioned to the major leagues without even the slightest of problems. Over his first two starts, Bastardo has a 2-0 record, 2.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and has registered 9 K's through 11 innings. You have to love this guy's potential when you look at his minor league statistics where he averaged well over a K/inning. While he does pitch in a hitter's park, the Phils are capable of scoring some runs and Bastardo will benefit from some 7-5 victories. He's definitely worth a look if you need some help with your pitching staff.

Lyle Overbay (1B, TOR): Lyle Overbay is quietly putting together an above average year with the Toronto Blue Jays. In fact, over the past week, there wasn't a hotter hitter in the American League as he received honors being named the AL Player of the Week. If you look at Overbay's numbers throughout his career, there is nothing extra-special about them. However, he has shown the ability to hit .300+ with 16-20 HRs. Although those numbers aren't going to win you a championship, they are serviceable numbers that would be great to punch in if you had an injury to one of your starters. Also, if nothing else, the guy is on fire right now and it never hurts to ride a player out when they're seeing the ball like it's a watermelon. I would monitor Overbay's at-bats over the next week and see if his recent hot streak earns him everyday ABs. Manager Cito Gaston often sits him when the Jays face a lefty pitcher.

Big Miss

Milton Bradley (OF, CHC): Since his move to Chicago, Milton Bradley has been nothing but a disappointment to the Cubbie's faithful. As many in the fantasy world suspected, Milton Bradley's 2008 campaign had a lot more to do with the Rangers' ballpark and lineup than with him finally maturing into an everyday major league hitter. Last season Bradley put together an offensive explosion that included a .321 average, a .436 OBP, 22 HRs, 77 RBIs and 78 runs. This season, Bradley has struggled mightily at the plate hitting a dismal .218 with only 5 HRs, 14 RBIs and 19 runs. Most disappointing to Cubs fans however is Bradley's inability to stay healthy on a consistent basis. Throughout Bradley's career, he has struggled with durability issues and some have even questioned whether he's capable of putting together an entire season of at-bats.

Regardless of what your feelings on Bradley are, he needs to start hitting for the Cubs and your fantasy team to win. Similar to Cubs' management, many fantasy owners put great stock into Bradley's 2008 season and drafted him ahead of much more consistent outfield options. Unfortunately, he's left his owners asking which player is the real Milton Bradley. Because of where you most likely drafted him, you can't drop him and you certainly don't want to trade him because his value will never be lower. For the time being, you may want to sit Milton down until he can provide you with some consistent numbers. If things aren't looking better for Milton around the All-Star break, you may want to throw him on the trading block and see what kind of return you could get on him. You never know what someone would be willing to give up in a "buy-low" trade.

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.

Related Posts by Subject


Chris said...

As a friend of Vinny it is great to see him jump on immediately and have such a positive impact on this team.

Oakland has provided enough run support early to help his confidence.

As far as I could find, Vinny and Karl Spooner (1954) are the only pitchers to not give up a run and win their first two career starts. No pitcher has won his first three games and not given up a run.