Around the Diamond – 5.23.09

Welcome to the Baseball by Paul podcast notes for Saturday May 23rd, 2009. I won’t be doing audio for Saturday, but I will share the notes. So let’s go Around the Diamond:

FIRST BASE
On May 16th, Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto left the Reds’ game early with dizziness after just two at-bats. He was ruled out that Sunday, but he was nothing more than day-to-day, which made things tricky for fantasy owners setting their weekly lineup the following Monday. He went in for a battery tests before it was finally determined on May 21st that he had an inner ear infection. It was a bust of a week for those unable to do daily transactions and especially crushing for those in head-to-head leagues… that is until Saturday. Votto tried to make up for the lost time by smashing two HRs in consecutive innings off of Cleveland Indians starter David Huff. That said, I would still monitor his status on Sunday and if you have a legitimate replacement, it might be worth putting him in for Votto—especially in H2H leagues.

Jason Giambi hit his 400th HR on Saturday night and it came against former teammate, Danny Haren. He hasn’t quite jumpstarted the Oakland offense as expected, but he can get hot and string five or six homers together in a the span of a week to 10 days. Many, including yours truly, believed that Giambi, Orlando Cabrera and Matt Holliday would join forces with Jack Cust and Kurt Suzuki to boost the Oakland offense. But they have sputtered, to say the least.

SECOND BASE
Orlando Hudson
was one of my favorite pickups in the offseason and I sought to acquire him in every league possible. He hasn’t disappointed in the least! If he can stay healthy, he is en route to a career year of 12 HR, 14 SB and a .339 average. I thought he’d be an underrated source of runs scored based on the team that the Dodgers were putting together and that has played out so far as he’s on pace for 120, but the loss of Manny Ramirez until July definitely puts that pace in doubt. In Manny’s absence, Hudson has taken over the 3-hole in the lineup. He has .346 there, but scored just five runs. He has certainly done his part to fill the void as he carries a 13-game hitting streak into play on Sunday and he has hit safely in 22 of 23.

SHORTSTOP
If I told you I had a shortstop available for you that is hitting .329/.356/.503 with 5 HR, 25 RBI and 26 runs scored, would you be interested? Of course you would be, those are some pretty strong numbers. What if I told you that shortstop was Miguel Tejada, would you be as interested? Unfortunately, there are too many fantasy owners whose interest would dip once they learned the name. There is an inherent bias that creeps into our game and often does more harm than good.

Jason Collette of Owner’s Edge at fanball.com & rototimes.com does an excellent weekly piece entitled “Who Am I?” where he presents a player’s stat line and gets you to buy into something for better or worse without the preconceived notions of that player clouding your judgment. At the end of the day, this is a numbers game pure and simple. Trades that would be perfectly viable in a fantasy league would be laughably bad in the “real-life” and vice versa. However, as a community we get too tied to name value instead of focusing on the numbers value of a guy.

THIRD BASE
Speaking of eliminating biases, Andy LaRoche has done nothing but leave a sour taste in mouths of fantasy owners since arrival to the big leagues, but discounting him after 223 major league at-bats is nothing short of stupid. He added 63 more ABs to his total in April but still wasn’t doing much to impress. Fast forward through May 23rd and he’s up to .288 with a .360 on-base. He still has too few ABs to make any wholesale judgments but it is very nice to see him hitting like he had in the minors (.295 in 1800 ABs). Fun factoid – he attended the same school as John Lackey: Grayson County College in Denison, TX. No idea why I remembered Lackey went there.

CATCHER
Chris Iannetta
was really getting into a nice groove, so why wouldn’t he go on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. After hitting just .174 in a tough April, Iannetta was at .276 in May while continuing to display his usual sharp discipline. He was still at .333 OBP in April despite the average and he remained rather disciplined in May with 8 BB in 58 AB resulting in a .364 OBP. Now, Yorvit Torrealba becomes the full time catcher in Colorado. Your waiver wire almost assuredly holds a better option.

OUTFIELD
I mentioned my good friend Jason Collette earlier and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention him again as I bring up the player that almost single-handedly took from super-sleeper status to mid-round talent by championing him so fervently this offseason. The player in question is Nelson Cruz and he hit his 10th and 11th home runs of the season and he’s not hitting a healthy .285 to go with the massive power. Perhaps more impressive are the six stolen bases. After 44 HRs between the minors and majors last year and 20+ the two years previous, his power was not in question. But you didn’t hear much about his speed despite the fact that he had 27 SBs last year. At 28, he is a late bloomer, but he definitely looks legit and he will only get better as the weather warms up in Arlington.

On May 23rd in baseball history – Shawn Green rips four home runs in 16-3 rout of Milwaukee. He went an absurd 6-for-6 with the four home runs, a double and a single. He scored six times and drove in seven. He had 19 total bases! He ended up with 42 HR that season and 114 RBIs to go with them. I thought it was odd that he only had 114 RBIs with that many HRs, but according to Baseball-Reference.com, it’s not uncommon at all. There have been exactly 50 instances of 42+ HR and 114< RBIs.

PITCHER
Since I’m not going to do the audio for Saturday, I’m going to cut the pitching section short since I didn’t find there to be too much remarkable news. I’ll just leave you with this:

Why is Brian Moehler allowed to pitch…. ever? Just go look at his numbers; I won’t waste any more time on this clown.

Also congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals staff allowing just two runs in the past five games. I don’t care if it came against a struggling Chicago Cubs offense and a pitiful Kansas City Royals one, that is a damn impressive feat regardless.

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