Fantasy Notes: Gammons Weighs In
Peter Gammons dropped by Boston.com for an online chat Wednesday and, as always, he had a few very interesting observations, mostly related to the BoSox, of course. Some highlights:
The rumour that Larry Lucchino could leave the BoSox after this season are likely unfounded. The Dodgers would desperately like him to head west and clean up their mess, but given the success Boston has had under Lucchino, the team owners won’t be letting him walk any time soon.
Several of the Red Sox players want Justin Masterson to start this Sunday, but Boston needs this kid to be an important part of the bullpen next month, so it’s more likely that Clay Buchholz makes his scheduled start, despite his recent struggles. (Incidentally, Buchholz was supposed to start Friday, but newcomer Paul Byrd has been slotted in for that outing.) Having said that, from a purely fantasy perspective, I think I would rather own Masterson now in a deeper AL-only league than risk using Buchholz currently. Gammons believes Buchholz’s problems are both mechanical and mental at this point. If he recovers that superb changeup and shows even average command of his fastball, Gammons thinks he could be a righthanded Cole Hamels, so let’s not throw in the towel just yet. Counting on fantasy contributions from Buchholz for the remainder of 2008 seem foolhardy, however, I still love him long term.
The Sox bullpen could sure use an infusion of talent, so look for Hunter Jones to get the call next month when rosters expand. Boston would like another lefty in the pen for the stretch run, and Jones definitely deserves a look given how dominant he was at Double-A before a promotion to Triple-A, where he’s definitely held his own. This 24-year-old is progressing quickly, and with better than a strikeout per inning, and superb control, he’s a name to watch. Surprisingly, he’s been way tougher on righties (.192 BAA) than lefties (.386) since joining the PawSox.
Daniel Bard is another young Red Sox reliever who has made tremendous strides in the minors this season. After a disastrous 2007 season, the 23-year-old righty has completely turned his career around. He was absolutely dealing in the Sally League, forcing a promotion all the way to Double-A, where he’s been superb, punching out 55 batters in just 43 1/3 IP. He could be ready for a shot as a September callup, but Boston is worried about having another Craig Hansen situation, where a promising young relief pitcher was brought to the majors before he was ready.
The final BoSox minor league reliever who has raised eyebrows with his progress this season is Richie Lentz. The 24-year-old righty walks a few too many, but with his hit rates and prodigious strikeout totals, has been able to overcome it. He looked very solid in High-A, and despite being more hittable in Double-A, has so far enjoyed even better results. Given all these talented young arms, it looks like Boston’s bullpen woes will be solved internally within the next year or so.
The injury to Julio Lugo has allowed Jed Lowrie to get his foot in the door at shortstop, and based on the results, it’s a job he won’t relinquish. Lowrie is expected to man the position for Boston for the next couple of seasons, rendering Lugo –assuming he accepts it — to a super utility role similar to what he did in Tampa. Need shortstop help? Grab Lowrie now, because even though Lugo is making finally progress in his rehab, he ain’t getting the job back, baby.
Manny Ramirez was a distraction in the clubhouse because he wasn’t answering the media’s questions, so they were left to grill the rest of the team. Apparently, the Red Sox players weren’t angry at Manny, however, because he was well liked off the field. As for the rumour that he’s headed to the Yankees next season, Gammons says that while the Brian Cashman/Hank Steinbrenner tandem is running the show in the Bronx Zoo, Ramirez will not wind up in Pinstripes.
The Yankees have been saving up money (what???) and plan to take a serious run at C.C. Sabathia in the offseason.
Speaking of Byrd, he’s been pretty damn consistent lately, so I’d suggest taking a gamble on him in AL-only or deeper mixed leagues, especially in 4×4 formats. In five starts since taking a bitchslapping in Minny on July 4, Byrd has given up just 34 hits and seven earned runs over 35 IP. Over that time, he has not yielded a single long ball, has walked just eight and fanned 17, winning his last four starts. Gammons tosses this fascinated factoid out: since Pedro Martinez became a free agent after the 2004 season, he’s won 30 games, while Byrd has racked up 44 wins during this stretch.
Gammons thinks Manager Terry Francona keeps giving Coco Crisp chances over Jacoby Ellsbury because Coco can be so streaky, and when he’s rolling, he brings a lot to the table. Personally, I think it’s a no-brainer. If Ellsbury is healthy, you’ve got to play him put Crisp in an extra outfielder role. In looking at his recent performance, it’s evident that Ellsbury has shaken off the doldrums. He’s a must own, and Crisp should be jettisoned.
Mike Lowell’s strained oblique has, in fact, landed him on the DL, so in his stead, Kevin Youkilis has shifted over to third base, allowing Sean Casey to man first. Youkilis has now appeared in 20 games at the hot corner – the magic number in many leagues for him to qualify there (and also automatically qualifying him there next season in most cases), so this is a huge bonus for his fantasy owners. Casey, meanwhile, is a decent pickup in AL-only leagues, as it looks like he’ll get some steady PT for the next couple of weeks. Casey hasn’t been scorching lately, but with his excellent batting eye, he’s a good bet to put up some numbers that can help you.