A happy birthday to Darin Erstad. The present author will fondly remember the Fire Joe Morgan glossary description of you. The funny thing is, looking back at Erstad’s career, his stats read much better than one would have guessed. Also of note, happy birthday to Bar Refaeli. No explanation necessary.
On today’s agenda:
1. The Los Angeles Dodgers outfield
2. The early bird gets the Wheeler
3. A shake up in Milwaukee
4. Joe Blanton shows up
The Los Angeles Dodgers outfield
Yesterday the Dodgers placed Carl Crawford on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain. Even before that move was announced, the club called up prospect Yasiel Puig to start in right field and bat lead off. The outfield for yesterday’s game consisted of Puig in right, Andre Ethier in center, and Scott Van Slyke manning left field. It remains to be seen whether the Dodgers feel comfortable placing Puig in the center — he does have four games there this season in Double-A — but given they normally trot out Matt Kemp and are using Ethier there now, maybe center field defense isn’t high on their list of priorities. Rimshot. Of course, Puig is the hot pick up right now as he is already owned in 40% of ESPN leagues, 50% of Yahoo! leagues, and 75% of CBS formats.
The early bid gets the Wheeler
A quick reminder that the New York Mets will (allegedly) be calling up Zack Wheeler for a start — and likely for good — next weekend against the Chicago Cubs. Wheeler’s Triple-A manager, Wally Backman, claims that Wheeler is ready. The Mets are keeping an eye on Wheeler’s service time, as keeping him from becoming a Super Two is almost assuredly a high priority. With the playing time cut off so close, a smart business move is the most likely real cause for him not already being in the rotation. His current 1.23 HR/9 rate raises an eyebrow, however six of his eight home runs allowed have come at home at Las Vegas, a notoriously hitter friendly park. If your bench allows, grabbing Wheeler now before the masses are aware of his call up would be a very good move.
A shake up in Milwaukee
The Milwaukee Brewers underwent a major roster change by trading for Juan Francisco, sending Mike Fiers down to Triple-A, releasing Alex Gonzalez, and calling up second baseman Scooter Gennett. The official word is that Weeks and Gennett will form a platoon at second base in a classic left-handed/right-handed split. Weeks has a 101 wRC+ career mark against fellow righties, however he has struggled thus far and has only managed a 42 wRC+ against same handed pitching this season. Given that the majority of starters — not to mention pitchers in general — are right-handed, picking up Gennett now makes sense for anyone looking for middle infield help. At the time of writing, Gennett wasn’t even eligible to be owned in Yahoo! leagues and his ownership in ESPN and CBS formats combined for a 2% ownership rate.
Though currently sitting behind Yuniesky Betancourt on the depth chart, Juan Francisco was brought specifically to “bring some pop” to first base. Still without a specific timetable for Corey Hart‘s return, expect Francisco to see plenty of playing time for now. He’ll post a brutal strikeout rate but his power is legit. For those home run starved teams, Francisco can provide a glimmer of hope.
Joe Blanton shows up
After making a preseason prediction for him to finish in the top 50 of 5×5 leagues for a starting pitchers, Joe Blanton has finally made the author look smart. Or, at least slightly less dumb. After last night’s eight innings and 11 strikeouts, Blanton appears back on track to repeat what he has done for the past two years: a decent amount of strikeouts and almost no walks. Though he did serve up a long ball, for once he didn’t have ducks on the pond at the time.
Blanton’s HR/FB% and BABIP should continue and regress, and perhaps now, from this point onward he will be a top 50 starter (but probably not). His SwStr% is league average for a starter and both his O-Swing% and Swing% are better than an average starter. Blanton has had a spot on the bench for some time in many of the author’s leagues and hopefully this start was a sign of things to come. Granted yesterday’s gem came against the lowly Houston Astros, Blanton’s overall 2013 isn’t nearly as bad as his ERA would suggest. Blanton is available in over 90% of CBS, ESPN, and Yahoo! leagues.
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