A relatively inexperienced ball player can now “make it rain” for the rest of his life. A start outfielder from Motown hits the shelf. The D'backs made a decision about who will take over in the 9th inning. I think they may have made the wrong call. Finally, the Bucs welcome back their solid second sacker from injury. HUGE DEAL FOR RIZZO The Cubs think Anthony Rizzo is the centerpiece for their rebuilding effort. They put their money where their mouth was Sunday when they signed Rizzo to a seven year, $41 million deal. There are two club options for 2020 and 2021 that will push the deal to $68 million. There are also escalator clauses that could take the contract up to $73 million in total. WOW. Anthony Rizzo has 608 at-bats in the big leagues. Anthony Rizzo has hit .253. Anthony Rizzo has a .331 OBP. Anthony Rizzo has a .434 OBP. Since the start of his career, the average NL player has a slash line of .259/.326/.410. Let me boil that down for you. Anthony Rizzo has been an average big league hitter with power to this point of his big league career, and the Cubs just gave him upwards of $70 million. Personally, I think that is just nutso. I mean like I fell off the chair at the bar on Friday night and I was so faded that I just decided to take a nap on the floor until closing time. Sure Rizzo has 25 homers and 85 RBIs over those 608 at-bats, and those are solid numbers, but how much better is Rizzo going to have to be for him to be worth what the Cubs are paying him? A .253-25-85 season looks a lot like Nick Swisher folks. At least Swisher has done that for years though – you know what you are getting with him. Maybe the Cubs will be right, Rizzo will continue to grow as a player, and he'll be an all-star three or four times over the next seven years. He had better or the Cubs just sunk millions upon millions of dollars on a guy who may end up producing like Corey Hart – nice but far from exciting. DL FOR AJAX And another one bites the dust. Austin Jackson was placed on the DL with a hamstring injury – one the Tigers tried to downplay. Jackson has scored 33 times in 34 games for the Tigers, so this is a terrible blow to his owners who were also enjoying his return to a 20 steal pace. Jackson has appeared in an average 147 games the past three years, but he's not going to get there this season with this news. Just so you know that I know what it's like to deal with injury, here is my DL list in one 12 team mixed league: Jackson, James McDonald, Neil Walker, Rajai Davis, Kevin Youkilis, Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Putz and Zack Greinke. Good times eh? Avisail Garcia has been called up by the Tigers, and his future is bright. Not just that, but he's been killing it of late with a homer, four RBIs and 16 hits in his last eight games at Triple-A. He's unlikely to care out a role of prominence in most mixed leagues, but if you're in an AL-only league good times are likely ahead – at least for the next couple of weeks. BULLPEN MAYHEM - ARIZONA STYLE Heath Bell, oh Heath Bell. The D'backs placed J.J. Putz on the DL with an arm problem, and at this point we're not really sure how much time he will miss as the team has been very vague with his prognosis. Such cloak and dagger work makes me think Putz is likely to miss a substantial amount of time, potentially the rest of the season. No matter how much time he misses, the D'backs had to make a decision as to who should take over the 9th inning, and the winner of their internal survey was – Heath Bell. Bell saved 40 games each year from 2009-11. In 2012 he fell flat on his face with the Marlins as he converted 19 of 27 save chances, saw his ERA soar to 5.09, and his WHIP went up to 1.55. A total mess was he. However, given his track record of success in the 9th inning, the D'backs tabbed Bell the closer this season. I like the 20 Ks in 16 innings, and it's been impressive that he's walked only three batters, but let's keep things real here. (1) Bell has a 5.06 ERA. That puts his ERA over 5.00 in his last 79.2 innings. (2) Bell has a 1.56 WHIP. That's a 1.55 WHIP over his last 79.2 innings. (3) Bell is whiffing 11.25 batters per nine, that would be a career best mark, and it's obnoxious to think that he will be able to maintain his current ratio since his mark the past two years, over 126.1 innings, is just 7.84. (4) Bell has walked at least three batters per nine innings each of the past five years. Do you really think he's going to keep that number down at 1.69? (5) Batters are hitting .333 off of Bell this season. It would be a shock if he's closing in a month for this team. Despite what looks like a return to prominence for Bell, the fact is that he isn't the pitcher he was three years ago. So who should the D'backs be using in the 9th inning? Some would say Matt Reynolds who has dominated this season with a 0.96 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and an 18:1 K/BB ratio. I disagree. Reynolds is a lefty, and that always causes some pause with closers. Second, he's not as good as he's looked thus far. You should have already known that. Over 185 big league outings the guys ha a 3.55 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 3.32 K/BB ratio. He's been good, but he's not elite like he has appeared to be over his 18.2 innings this season. The closer for the Diamondbacks should be David Hernandez. Even though he's not closing, Hernandez should be scooped up cause Bell isn't likely to hold on to the role for long (that means those of you that blew your FAAB budget this past weekend likely made a tactical error. You would, in my opinion, have been better off rostering Hernandez for a much cheaper cost). Problem for Hernandez is that he chose a bad time to slump. In his last nine outings David has permitted six earned runs and hat has swelled his ERA from 1.12 to 3.57. Still, we all know at this point to look past 17.2 innings of work and see the broader picture, right? Here's what I see with Hernandez. (1) Hernandez has been an elite setup man the past two years. In 2011-12 Hernandez had a 2.94 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 11.44 K/9 and 3.37 K/BB. That's some serious pitching folks, and the kind of work that had him targeted as one of the elite setup men in baseball that you could roster in mixed leagues this season with the hope that saves could follow. Alas, it hasn't happened... yet. (2) Hernandez is more physically gifted at this point than Bell. Sure he lacks the experience in the 9th innings, but I'm pretty tired of managers going with guys in the 9th inning just because they have done it before (hello Kevin Gregg). Here's what Hernandez has to do in order to get a shot in the 9th inning. Cut the walks. His BB/9 mark is back up over four. See a reduction in his homer per nine rate. This year that mark is 2.04. Over the past three seasons his combined HR/9 mark would equal 2.10. It's crazy high right now. Wait out Heath Bell's eventual implosion. I'd add Hernandez is he's still on waivers. His time is likely to come. NEIL WALKER RETURNS FROM DL Neil Walker is back in action as the Pirates activated him from the DL as the injured finger that required six stitches if finally healed. Walker was struggling when he was hurt, hitting only .253 with a single homer in 23 games, but we know he can hit. Or least you should know he can hit. Walker has hit .278 for his career, and he's averaged 13 homers and 73 RBIs the last three years. He's a nice add off waivers if he's sitting there as many seem to have forgotten about him. Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.


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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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