Results tagged ‘ Niemann ’

Injury bug bites Ibanez


Raul Ibanez‘s improbable career year hit a snag Thursday
morning, when the Phillies slugger landed on the 15-day DL with a strained left


The ball dropped one day after Ibanez seemed to have
trouble running the bases. It was unclear initially whether the groin strain was
something new or related to the sore left Achilles’ that nagged him for a week
or so, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. cleared up the confusion shortly
after Thursday’s move, saying the two injuries were not related. 


Amaro was also quick to point out that the groin injury
has bothered Ibanez for a while. “It’s affected his play,” Amaro said.
“When he got back on the field yesterday and played, it got to the point
where the discomfort was enough for us to shut him down.” That may explain
why Ibanez is hitting just .194 (6-for-31) in the past seven games, although he’s
gone for three home runs in that span.


After missing Sunday’s game, Ibanez blamed his shoes for
the absence and insisted that the sore Achilles’ was nothing to worry
about.  You can hardly blame the guy for dismissing any form of physical
limitation. We’re talking about a 37-year-old having an MVP-caliber career
year, not to mention a model of men’s health who takes better care of his body
than William Sadler did in “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” as John McClane’s
karate-kicking nemesis, Col. Stuart.


That said, you have to figure the groin strain caused
enough concern for the first-place Phillies to put him on the shelf. It’s also
a huge loss for fantasy teams who’ve come to rely on the unlikely superstar
enjoying a Luis Gonzalezian campaign. An MRI will be taken Thursday for Ibanez,
who heads to the DL ranked second in the NL with 22 long balls and 59 RBIs.


“We’ll monitor him every day and see how he feels,
and hopefully he’ll heal properly and be ready in 15 days,” Amaro said.
“That’s the plan. That would be great. But I don’t know if that’s going to


John Mayberry Jr. was recalled to take his place, but
probably doesn’t deserve much attention beyond deep NL-only play. Known more
for his father’s skills than his own, Mayberry Jr. was hitting just .257 at Las
Vegas with a .470 slugging percentage.



Unfortunately, Ibanez, Roy Halladay and Scott Downs aren’t
the only prominent players to be bitten by the injury bug. A growing number of ailments
have left fantasy owners scrambling for replacements. Let’s walk through the week’s
biggest boo-boos and identify a few stopgap solutions:


Derek Jeter

Condition: Pulled from Monday night’s game with ankle
stiffness, Jeter was out of the lineup Wednesday. He’s not expected to go on
the DL.


Shortstop stopgaps

Maicer Iztirus: With Howard Kendrick out of the picture
as the Angels second baseman, Cesar’s half-brother has stepped in to go 8-for-14
with six runs scored, a homer and six RBIs over his last five games. Even if
Jeter makes a swift return, having an all-purpose infielder like Izturis to
plug in here and there isn’t the worst thing in the world. Worse players have
risen from utility status to full-time contributor.


Alternatives: Alberto Callaspo, Brendan Harris

Raul Ibanez

Condition: Landed on DL Thursday after weeks of being
hampered by a strained groin, no timetable for return.

Denard Span

Condition: Landed on the 15-day DL Tuesday after being
sidelined since June 9 due to an inner-ear infection.

Outfield stopgaps

Juan Rivera: A lengthy injury history limited Rivera’s
value heading into ’09, but he has no business being on the waiver wire with
the way he’s swung the bat in recent weeks. Since May 23, the guy sports a .395
average, six homers and 20 RBIs, including three homers in the last three days.
In other words, he’s worth owning regardless of when your regular starting
outfielder is ready to return.

Cody Ross: Riding the hot hand could reap short-term
rewards with Ross, who is hitting .407 (11-for-27) with four doubles, two
homers and six RBIs. The power is real, but don’t expect an average north of
.300 the rest of the way with all the strikeouts he racks up.


Alternatives: Tony Gwynn Jr., Jeremy Hermida, Chris Coghlan, Chris B.


Ervin Santana, Angels

Condition: Scratched from his last outing with right
forearm tightness, Santana has until June 23, his next scheduled turn in the
Angels rotation, to show he’s healthy. Otherwise, he faces the prospect of
another DL stint, damaging his short-term value.

Erik Bedard, Mariners

Condition: Bedard was placed on the DL on Wednesday
night, retroactive to June 8, when the shoulder inflammation he first
experienced after his June 7 start didn’t adequately subside.

Chris R. Young, Padres

Condition: Landing on the DL because of an inflamed right
shoulder might be a blessing in disguise for Young. The hope is that time away
will put him back on track, or at least bring down his unusually ineffective
5.21 ERA.

John Maine, Mets

Condition: On the DL since June 12 with shoulder
weakness, Maine is expected to rejoin the Mets rotation next week.

Starter stopgaps

Ricky Romero: I mentioned Romero as an attractive pickup
before Tuesday’s impressive outing in which he fanned nine Phillies in seven
innings of three-run ball. Now, you’ll have to pounce before someone realizes
the last-place Nationals are his next opponent this weekend.

Joe Blanton: Also among this week’s spot-starters,
Blanton heads into Thursday’s scheduled start against the Blue Jays sporting a
3-0 record, a 3.09 ERA and a 32/7 K/BB ratio in his last five starts.
Don’t be scared off by his season totals.

Jeff Niemann: The stuff has always been there, and we’ve
seen glimmers of dominance over the past few weeks, including a complete-game
shutout of the Royals.

Jose Contreras: Why not gamble? His fastball velocity is
reportedly back where it was a few years ago, and the fact that he’s coming off
back-to-back eight-inning gems offers hope that this isn’t the same guy who
rang up an 8.19 ERA through his first five starts in ’09. Stranger things have

Brad Bergeson: Granted, he’ll leave you yearning for more
strikeouts, and the wrong matchup could send his ERA soaring, but Bergeson’s
sinker is effective enough to provide value in deep mixed-league play. The
unheralded Oriole has induced more than twice as many grounders as flies,
bringing to mind an American League version of Aaron Cook.


Alternatives: Dallas Braden, Randy Wells,
Trevor Cahill, Luke Hochevar, Nick Blackburn


Brad Lidge

Condition: On the 15-day DL with a knee injury, he’s already
pitching bullpen sessions and might begin a rehab assignment this weekend (June

Frank Francisco

Condition: Sidelined since June 4, Francisco pitched a
bullpen session Tuesday and expects to return from the 15-day DL in the next
two weeks.

Reliever stopgaps

J.P. Howell, Rays: If you missed out on dash to grab Ryan
, Jason Frasor or C.J. Wilson, take a flier on Howell. Like Downs or Brian Fuentes,
this is a left-hander who has shown the ability to shut down right-handed
batters. And with no set timetable for Troy Percival‘s return, maybe the Rays
will go ahead and hand the closer reins over to their best reliever.


Alternatives: Mike MacDougal, Joe Beimel


— Alex Cushing,

Spend it like Beckham?

beckham.jpgIn a matter of hours Wednesday, three of the game’s most prolific prospects — Andrew McCutchen, Gordon Beckham and Tommy Hanson — were all ticketed to the Majors.

All this created havoc for owners with limited roster space on such short notice.

Who should you grab first? Who should you drop? Where’s the computer?

Do you target McCutchen, the speedy 23-year-old center fielder who essentially made Nate McLouth expendable for Pittsburgh?

Or do you go for Beckham, the 22-year-old shortstop-turned-third baseman who shot through the White Sox system less than one year after being drafted?

And what about Hanson, who all but ended Tom Glavine’s career in Atlanta after completely dominating at Triple-A Gwinnett?

Strike that, actually. Given all the hype surrounding Hanson since earning Arizona Fall League Most Valuable Player honors, the chances of him just hanging around the free-agent pool are slim. And let’s be honest — Beckham and McCutchen, for all their talent, don’t hold a torch to Hanson in terms of immediate upside. If Matt Wieters is the one American League rookie to own this year, then Hanson is that guy in the National League, even after getting beat up by the Brewers in his big league debut.

The choice ultimately comes down to McCutchen and Beckham, both of whom weren’t expected to be promoted this early in the season.

The smart money says McCutchen. He’s got tons of speed, blossoming power, five years of Minor League seasoning and the guarantee of playing time now with McLouth patrolling center in Atlanta. Baseball America has been drooling over his physical attributes for years, and with 34 stolen bases last year and improved power with a career-high .496 slugging percentage this year, he’s backed up the hype for the most part.

Beckham carries more risk, largely because he just hasn’t been around for long. This time last year, the guy was leading the Georgia Bulldogs to an NCAA championship. Now, he has a real chance of supplanting Josh Fields at the hot corner, despite doubts held by his own manager, Ozzie Guillen, who told several outlets during Spring Training that the club would be “in trouble” if Beckham were in the Majors this season. With that in mind, it’s fair to wonder whether the White Sox rushed him at all.

But Minor League service time is just one thing to consider.

The fact that Beckham qualifies at shortstop, third and possibly even second soon can’t be dismissed. It’s enough of a reason to go back and comb through his Minor League record carefully, all 59 games worth of it.

Are Beckham’s impressive numbers — a .322 average and a .519 slugging percentage — enough to go on? According to someone who covers Minor League players, yes, double-digit homers aren’t out of the question for the Atlanta native, who already possesses considerably more pop than McCutchen, whose pedestrian .423 slugging percentage on the farm leaves much to be desired. The real concern, according to this source, wasn’t at the plate, but on the defensive end, where Beckham could struggle given his lack of experience at third.

That leads me to think the McCutchen vs. Beckham debate depends largely each owner’s immediate needs. If speed and outfield depth are weaknesses, then the exciting new Bucs center fielder is your man, no question. But, if you need help up the middle, going for the high-risk/high-reward guy in Beckham makes sense. Even more so in points leagues, where steals aren’t nearly as valuable as they are in standard 5×5 formats.

For those reasons, I actually wound up cutting McCutchen in a points league shortly after grabbing him to get a hold of Beckham.
Regardless of whom you choose, one thing is clear: both McCutchen and Beckham have impact potential and deserve all the attention they’re receiving.

In other news …

Is B.J. Upton finally rounding into form? He extended his hit streak to 10 Sunday and sports a .371 average over that span. A home run was even seen flying off his bat Thursday, his third.

Two days after Garrett Atkins seemingly snapped a season-long slump with two homers in one game, the red-hot Ian Stewart did the same thing, complicating the veteran’s chances of reclaiming full-time status at third base.

Another third-base situation worth watching is the one in Milwaukee, where Mat Gamel is getting more playing time at the expense of Bill Hall, whose struggles against right-handers are well documented.

Fausto Carmona’s sinker may not be sinking, but his stock sure hit rock bottom this week.

One Tribe member whose value isn’t sinking, ironically, is that of Carl Pavano, who looks more like the pitcher who helped lead the Marlins to the 2003 World Series championship than the primary subject of the boo-birds in the Bronx, having gone 7-1 with a 3.00 ERA and a 40/10 K/BB ratio since the start of May, including his first complete-game shutout in four years last time out.

Another pitcher who deserves a second chance is Jeff Niemann, who sports a scintillating 1.73 ERA and a 21/3 K/BB ratio in his past four starts after reportedly tweaking his mechanics a few weeks ago.

Ricky Nolasco embarked on his turnaround Sunday, getting recalled from Triple-A New Orleans after two effortless starts in which he notched a 2.40 ERA.

Oakland’s rookie starters, namely, Vin Mazzaro, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Josh Outman, seem to be figuring out how to handle Major League hitters after some tough lessons. In fact, the entire pitching staff owns a surprising 1.89 ERA this month.

As much as everyone wants to see Dontrelle Willis put last year behind him, he still hasn’t figured out the strike zone.

The same goes for Rich Hill, apparently.

B.J.’s younger brother, Justin Upton, on the other hand, has everything figured out at age 21. He’s pretty good; superstar-in-the-not-too-distant-future good.

— Alex Cushing,