Sunday, June 21, 2009

Out of Nowhere Nice

I'm all for out of nowhere success stories, especially in fantasy sports. Well, let me rephrase that: I'm all for out of nowhere success stories, especially in fantasy sports, only when it benefits my team.

Take for example, the season Mark Reynolds is having:

.267 BA, 18 HR, 47 R, 44 RBI, 13 SB

OK, there were talks going into the season of Reynolds becoming even more of a solid contributor this year, so it may not completely be out of nowhere, but after the gawdawful first month of the season, you have to admit that it is definitely out of somewhere close to nothing.

Despite the fact that I missed out on Reynolds's heroics of May 20th (two dingers and four swipes in a double header at Florida), he has contributed the following line, in 160 at-bats or roughly 40 games, as of June 2:

.256 BA, 10 HR, 26 R, 32 RBI, 5 SB

I didn't trust Reynolds until mid-May and I benched him all through the first month of the season, when he's defensive woes and propensity to swing at pitches he couldn't connect on didn't sit too well with Bob Melvin.

I acquired Reynolds by moving A.J. Burnett in a one-for-one deal before the season started, hoping to alleviate the pain of Alex Rodriguez's butt cyst or whatever. Yeah, after watching Burnett toss a few gems early in the season, of course I was kicking myself a bit. But then agin, Burnett will always be Burnett - bases on balls . . . ooops, homer - not to mention perhaps the darker-side of Burnett, with the new Yankee Stadium being a launching pad, but can Mark Reynolds really set the record for most strike outs in a season and have a great fantasy baseball year?

During that time I was starting Derek Lee at 1B, while doing everything (cursing, sweet-talking, teasing, begging, etc) in my power to get the former NL MVP - oh, so long ago, in 2005 - going again.

As you may know, Derek Lee hasn't been the Derek Lee of 2005 since, well, 2005. More accurately, he hasn't looked like the homer-machine of 2005 since he broke his wrist in 2006, colliding with Rafael Furcal during a mid-April game against the Dodgers.

After I dropped Lee from my squad back in May 14 - to pick up David Aardsma (do I owe a thank you to Lee for having such a stinky start of a season? No, since I would've picked up Aardsma one way or another) - Lee's been on two other teams, both of which promptly dropped him after seeing what I saw during the month of April: lack of plus-power and not a whole lot of runs and RBI opportunities.

Nonetheless, you couldn't help but to be enticed by the valiant OBP and slugging numbers in the second half of May and the way they ballooned in June. Can Lee finally bounce back from two broken bones in his right wrist? Sure, I had hopes of Lee coming back into form, but honestly, I had very little to completely no faith in the resurgence of Lee. Not after two years of sub-par seasons at a power-required position of 1B.

After 15 games in June, Lee stands with six homers and 16 driven-in, along with a lofty .375 BA. The batted-in number isn't overly impressive, but what he's doing with his at-bats are obviously nice and definitely encouraging.

Coming back aboard Team Inchon and getting the starting nod at 1B - due to the two-day sitting of Alex Rodriguez (hey, if you were A-Rod and you had two days off back in your home town, wouldn't you be embarrassed if you weren't spotted at a club in the wee hours of the dawn? Personally, I'd hope to be sporting a hotter female than a mere Kate Hudson, though) - yesterday, Lee continued to hammer away, homering for the third straight day for his fourth home run in three days. Of course, Reynolds, in the 3B slot - also, how lovely and out of nowhere is it that Reynolds now qualifies as 1B? - failed to get a hit for the second day in a row against my Mariners. Can't really scold him too much for that, since the M's can now sweep the Diamondbacks.

If you really want to talk about a player coming out of nowhere - and contributing to Team Inchon - let's talk about Aardsma. Aard-what?! Right.

What prompted me to stick with Aardsma despite the Korean-soaps-like closing times drama for Seattle was the way J.J. Putz turned into an elite closer after years of mediocrity - save the first half of 2005 - coming out of the bullpen in both minors and majors. I wasn't about to make the same mistake of not pouncing on the player that may step-up and flourish in a new role.

Juan Pierre definitely impressed in the absence of Manny Ramirez, but I think the curtains have come down on him, even though July 3rd is still a couple of weeks away. It's been real nice, but Pierre, you're just not fulfilling my needs.

Other bounce-back candidates on Team Inchon include Scott Podsednik, David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jorge Julio. Ummm, what? Yes. Even Julio.

At AAA Durham, Julio's been brought into tight situations - two to be precise - and both times he failed to stop the bleeding: hit a batter and gave up a grand slam after coming in with the bases loaded, and gave up a single after coming in with two runners in scoring position with the score tied. So, he sucks, big deal. Well, so do the rest of the 'pen in Tampa Bay. I get the feeling that Joe Maddon doesn't fully trust one particular arm and that's why he's been mucking around with the closer-by-committee idea. J.P. Howell finally has started to look pretty good among the crowd, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Rays are looking at Julio to be that guy who can come up from Durham as the designated closer, so that Maddon can have his match-up fun with the rest of his relief pitchers. Yes, just like that the Washington Nationals did with Mike MacDougal.

Can we really believe in Podsednik? I've always felt that Ozzie Guillen - in addition to being certified - is the type of a guy who gives freedom on the base paths. Pods continued his improbably comeback atop of the White Sox order and scored two and drove in a pair yesterday, not to mention hitting his second bomb of the season. Obviously, the power numbers are gravy, but is it possible that he can continue to get on base and keep swiping bags - seven in 19 games in the month of June? Right. Until he goes and injures himself. Seems like we have yet another one-trick-pony to replace Pierre.

As for Ortiz and Guerrero . . . well, I picked up Ortiz after everyone else in my league gave up on him. Then he went on a minor power surge, enough pa-zazz for me to note and plug him in at Util. Not much excitement. Takers, anyone? Guerrero, on the other hand, I believe will return to form, that form being 90-30-100, once he gets his pectoral muscle issue out of the way. Perhaps in a few years? Ugh. Takers, anyone, please?

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