Welcome to the very special Earthquake Edition of the Tuesday Top Ten. If you didn’t hear the news, most of the east coast and regions out to Ohio experienced a 5.9 earthquake this afternoon at 1:51 PM. Clearly the reason for this is the fact that the Oakland A’s are in New York tonight to play the Yankees. Apparently they brought the San Andreas Fault with them on their charter plane. As a forewarning, there are absolutely no earthquake jokes or puns contained in this edition of the Top Ten. I thought it would be in poor taste to mock or defame the memory of John Tenta, otherwise known as Earthquake in the WWF. Remember when he squashed Jake Roberts’ snake and then made python burgers out of its remains? Now, without further adieu, here is this week’s edition of the Tuesday Top Ten fantasy baseball headlines for August 23, 2011.
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10. Second Base Swap – Sometimes struggling players just need a change of scenery. Over the past couple years, it seems as though Toronto is the place to go to reinvent oneself (see Yunel Escobar and Colby Rasmus). The Arizona Diamondbacks, still clinging to a slim lead in the National League West, shipped Kelly Johnson to the Blue Jays in exchange for Aaron Hill and John McDonald. Johnson and Hill were once prominent fantasy second basemen but have fallen off the radar with terrible seasons. Now Hill is thrust into a pennant race but must face the overall solid NL West pitching staffs. Johnson is the better fantasy option going to Toronto and joining a solid lineup.
9. Magic Wandy – Enigmatic left-hander Wandy Rodriguez was expectedly put on waivers by the abysmal Houston Astros, and it appears the Colorado Rockies have claimed him. Now we must see if a deal can be made between the clubs to complete a trade, or if Houston will simply just let him go (much like the Blue Jays did with Alex Rios a couple years ago). Rodriguez is still owed a significant amount of money, so it is likely that the Rockies thought about that before making the claim. Moving to the thin air of Denver is not usually a good thing for pitchers, but Rodriguez does have strikeout stuff and could be looked at as the new ace of their staff after Ubaldo Jimenez was traded.
8. Wild Blue Yonder – Reds rookie Yonder Alonso definitely has a bright future ahead of him. However, it likely won’t be with Cincinnati unless he obtains some Tom Emanski outfield defensive skills videos. Alonso is a first baseman by trade, but with former MVP Joey Votto entrenched at the position, it is unlikely the Reds will be able to survive with Alonso playing the outfield with two left feet. If he is available in your keeper league for some reason, pick him up now. As for this year, he will likely get some playing time in the outfield to keep his bat in the lineup. But no one will mistaken him for Devon White.
7. The Town of Mayberry– It is not often that one gets to make an Andy Griffith Show reference when analyzing fantasy baseball, but that is exactly what I am doing now. Pow! Phillies outfielder John Mayberry, Jr. may have an extended opportunity to play with the archaic Raul Ibanez suffering from a groin injury and lack of production. Mayberry has filled in nicely adding some pop to a lineup that has lacked consistent power outside of Ryan Howard. He is worthy of a pickup in NL-only leagues and some deeper mixed leagues because of hitting in the Phillies’ lineup and bandbox of a ballpark.
6. Thumbs Down for A-Rod – After a month-long absence, Alex Rodriguez finally rejoined the Yankees’ lineup on Sunday and appropriately went 0 for 5. Now, he is already out of the lineup again with a jammed left thumb. He claims he injured his thumb trying to field a ball hit by Joe Mauer. I personally think he injured himself when trying to fold a hand at the poker table at Mohegan Sun last week. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has no problem with A-Rod playing legal poker, especially at one of the Yankees’ sponsors (Mohegan Sun is a sponsor of the Yankees if you are unable to use context clues). But Cashman may feel otherwise if A-Rod is unable to play cards without endangering himself. He is a shell of his former self anyway, so now adding another malady to his chart only further decreases his value.
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5. Jason Bay Sucks So Much I Don’t Have a Clever Pun For Him This Week – Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Jason Bay goes and proves you wrong. He went through an 0 for 20 streak which saw his batting average dip back into the mid .230’s. Do I need to even mention that he didn’t drive in any runs either? He could do all fantasy owners a favor and get injured so you can send him to the DL or simply drop him. His fantasy value is essentially nothing at this point, so unless he is your only option on your roster, there is no reason to have him in your starting lineup. He seems like a nice guy, but holy crap is he awful. This concludes my weekly rant about Jason Bay.
4. Reyes Runneth the Bases – Mets star shortstop and pending free agent Jose Reyes is scheduled to play in some rehab games later this week with a possible return coming this weekend, or early next week at the latest. After being placed on the disabled list for the second time in two months with a tight hamstring, Reyes will be returning just in time for the fantasy baseball pennant races and playoffs. This could be a huge factor in any league because, when healthy, Reyes is a game changer. It will be interesting to see how much, if any, base-stealing he does in order to keep his legs fresh and avoid another injury. His timing at the plate will also need a little time to get readjusted, again. But those of you who have him stashed on your DL should be able to activate him by the weekend or for next week.
3. Precious CarGo – Rockies star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was one of the biggest fantasy baseball disappointments of the year for much of the season due to injuries and lower-than-expected batting average and power numbers. But he has been on fire, slugging seven homeruns since coming off the disabled list a couple weeks ago and finally looks like the 2010 version again. Perhaps he was trying too hard to justify the enormous contract he signed. A consensus top 10 fantasy pick coming into this season, Gonzalez is hitting his stride and looks ready to put the team on his back.
2. Playing it by Ear – There have been some bizarre injuries over the years. From Sammy Sosa injuring himself sneezing, Luis Castillo getting hurt walking down the dugout steps, or Kaz Matsui getting anal fissures, it is clear that anything can happen. For Matt Holliday, add another bizarre injury to the list. After already missing time due to an emergency appendectomy and some internal illnesses earlier this season, Holliday had to be taken out of Monday’s game when a moth flew into his ear and got stuck. Cardinals’ trainers had to use tweezers to remove the moth, which was allegedly soaked in ear wax. Ok that last part was made up. But Holliday has at least gained a new nickname – “Mothra.”
1. Goose Eggs and Hamels – Phillies All-Star pitcher and fantasy stud Cole Hamels has been placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his shoulder. This is not good news for fantasy owners as we near the playoffs. Hamels was in the midst of having a terrific season, but anytime there are shoulder issues with a pitcher it is cause for concern. Stash him on the DL and hold onto him as long as you can before your playoff rosters must be set. But keep a close eye on this situation because the Phillies will want to be overly cautious, especially since they have the NL East, and the very worst, a playoff berth all but locked up.
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