Fantasy Notes: Is Derek Done?
Fantasy owners and Yankee fans alike have been bemoaning Derek Jeter’s down season, but if you had listened to us back in the preseason, you would have known that the Captain wasn’t a good bet for 2008. He enjoyed a good June, and a decent July (although he slumped towards the end of the month), and has picked things up in August, but let’s face it, this has been a very un-Jeter like season. Although even in some of big years, he was an aggressive hitter, Jeter’s walks have slipped for a third straight season. But the big issue for fantasy owners has been his lack of home runs and steals. Still, before we write him off as being in serious decline, let’s send some love his way. Since 1996, only Alex Rodriguez (with 1,552) has scored more runs than Jeter’s 1,437. A lifetime .315 hitter, Jeter, with 2,463 hits, has more safeties than anyone in baseball over this period, and he ranks 13th since 1996 with 405 doubles. So what’s wrong with him this year? A hand injury in late-May has definitely proved problematic. More recently, some have suggested that he’s been favouring his leg for about a month as well. Clearly, Jeter will slip out of the third round of fantasy drafts in 2009, but would you be surprised if he bounced back with another big season? I wouldn’t be at all. — R.R.
Justin Morneau’s explosive July – good enough for him to make our MVP candidate list in our Mid-Season Awards Report – has turned into an ugly August so far, yet he’s still batting .315, giving him a chance to go for a career high (he hit .321 during his 2006 MVP season) if he can turn his current slump around. Unfortunately, we have our doubts about that based on recent trends. Over the past three years, Morneau’s worst two months of the season have been – you guessed it – August and September. In fact, since 2005, his post All-Star game OPS is 129 points below what he accomplished before the break. Sell high candidate? Me thinks so. — R.R.
I’d say we’ve seen the last of 33-year-old outfielder Timo Perez. If his .405 June and .333 July at Triple-A Toledo wasn’t good enough for him to get a call to the Tigers, he likely won’t see the light of day in the majors again, especially now that he’s slumping. Last season, at least he played 29 games in the bigs, and actually smoked the ball very well, batting .389. But the fact of the matter is that the decline has definitely started this season, notwithstanding those big two months he enjoyed. Of course, the Jays could always use help, so who knows? — R.R.
I think it’s time to start considering Pedro Martinez as an option down the stretch. Over his last three starts (interrupted by a stint on the bereavement list), he’s only given up 11 hits and five runs over 14 1/3 IP and all the scoring has come via solo home runs. Okay, the eight walks is way too many, but with 14 Ks, he’s fanning almost a batter per inning. He’s still not quite capable of going deep enough into games to be a factor as far as wins goes, but his peripherals of late look promising. As fragile as Pedro has been the last couple of years and as hittable as he looked earlier this season, could we see a renaissance of sort down the stretch? It might be worth a gamble to find out. — R.R.
Aaron Boone, dealing with a calf injury that’s had him sidelined for a month, has begun working out at the Nats’ Spring Training complex. No one is sure when he’ll return, so I wouldn’t concern myself with this news tidbit too much. While back in May, we were wondering about his sudden pop, he completely went into the tank shortly after that, and then came his injury. While Boone appeared to enjoy a bit of a comeback last season in a part-time role with the Marlins before injury shortened his season, it now looks like the end is near for the 35-year-old. He’s a decent veteran bat who will supply a bit of pop off the bench for a major league team, but asking him to do anything more than that is out of the question. — R.R.
Joel Zumaya was anointed the bullpen saviour for the Tigers, and promptly allowed four runs Tuesday night in blowing the save opportunity and taking the loss against the White Sox. Fernando Rodney has allowed earned runs in four of his past five appearances and Kyle Farnsworth has been just about as solid in allowing six earned runs in his past four appearances. Nice trade, Dumbrowski! Dave, you might want to take a look at Blaine Neal. In 36 games for Triple-A Toledo, he has 25 saves an ERA of 1.27 with 39 Ks in 35 1/3 IP. — T.M.
The Mets have a problem heading down the stretch. Billy “The Kid” Wagner was placed on the DL Tuesday (retroactive to August 3) with a strained left forearm. As expected, Aaron Heilman got the first crack at the job, and promptly surrendered three runs while recording just one out Tuesday night, before being relieved by Joe Smith and Scott Schoenweis, who combined to get the final two outs, with Schoenweis earning the save. After that less-than-stellar performance by Heilman, either Duaner Sanchez or Eddie Kunz, recently recalled from Double-A Binghamton, probably get the next save opportunity in New York. A closer-by-committee approach would likely be the prudent choice until someone steps up. — T.M.
C.J. Wilson hit the DL for the Rangers and Eddie Guardado looks like the favourite for saves in Texas at this time. Heading forward, one might want to take a look at Frank Francisco to garner some save opportunities as well, as Everyday Eddie is not the long-term solution. Plus, the Rangers might want to take a look at Francisco as a possible closer for the future. Hey, as long as we don’t let him near a bullpen chair, he just might be a decent choice. — T.M.