<
>
Insider

Denard Span poised to steal more bases

8/3/2011

I thought it was odd that the Minnesota Twins and Washington Nationals were discussing a trade this past weekend that would have presumably sent outfielder Denard Span to the National League, with the Nationals parting with closer Drew Storen. Ultimately the deal did not get done. I like Span. When healthy, he is a good defender in center field, gets on base and can steal. Storen is a young closer, the other real-life first-rounder in the Stephen Strasburg draft.

Span is back on the Twins after missing nearly two months because of a concussion. He was hitting .294 before the DL stint, with only five stolen bases in 56 games, and I admit it didn't make a ton of sense to keep Span, the No. 47 outfielder on average in ESPN live drafts and a 20th-round pick overall, owned in standard leagues. But now he's back. He's available in 70 percent of leagues. And he can help a fantasy team.

There are those who enjoy watching rookie Ben Revere play -- he is exciting in the outfield -- and couldn't understand why the Twins would remove him from the lineup for Span. Just look at on-base percentage. It isn't close. Revere was stealing bases, but a .300 OBP doesn't cut it for a leadoff hitter. Span can do better. He led off Tuesday night and went hitless in three at-bats, but drew a walk and stole a base. It was a good sign. I can't call Span a major difference maker for fantasy these final two months, but if he hits .300 and steals double-digit bases, each certainly possible based on his ability and track record, he'll make an impact.

I received a tweet Monday night from a fantasy baseball owner wondering where all the stolen bases had gone. There were 10 base stolen Monday, two by generally unowned Jamey Carroll and then a bunch from some of the usual suspects, like Hanley Ramirez, Drew Stubbs, Coco Crisp, Cameron Maybin and even fast Willie Bloomquist. Tuesday was a different story; there were 22 steals. Let's discuss a few of the interesting names.

Blake Tekotte, San Diego Padres: Who? Well, this 24-year-old lefty center fielder was hitting .299 at Double-A San Antonio with 31 stolen bases, but check out the .410 on-base percentage! Wow! Seems to me the Padres could use some of that, no? Tekotte was up with the Padres earlier this season but didn't play much. I doubt the team will use him over a healthy Will Venable, Kyle Blanks, Chris Denorfia or Maybin, but Tekotte's pair of steals against the Los Angeles Dodgers weren't a fluke. Keep an eye on him if the Padres use him.

Eric Young Jr., Colorado Rockies: Starting in left field, which he's better at than second base, Young singled and stole a base in four at-bats. He's hitting .216 over 74 at-bats, with a .280 OBP. Sure, he's stolen seven bases in eight attempts. He had a two-steal game against the Padres over the weekend. But Young can't get on base and he brings so little defensive value it's hard to believe the Rockies will play him enough to help you. Could he steal 10 more bases? Sure. But don't expect some big breakout, either.

Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals: Really, that was his first stolen base of the season? It sure was. And Holliday probably did it only because it was extra innings and he wanted to get into scoring position so Lance Berkman could bloop a ball down the third-base line for the winning run. Holliday is terrific; he's hitting .320 with a top-10 OPS and good enough power stats, but part of his fantasy value was surely due to the stolen bases, which he hasn't delivered. In 2008, Holliday was 28-for-30 in steals. In 2009-10, he was 23-for-35. Big difference. I think Holliday, now 1-for-2 this season, can steal double-digit bases next season, and that might push him into first-round draft status in some leagues, but one steal in four months doesn't get him there.

Chris Heisey, Cincinnati Reds: He figured to gain from the Jonny Gomes trade, but one day it's Yonder Alonso, another it's Fred Lewis. Heisey stole his fifth base Tuesday. He has 12 home runs. There's a relevant fantasy option lurking here, but he hasn't shown it yet. Free Heisey, Dusty!

Travis Snider, Toronto Blue Jays: The slugging outfielder now has nine steals on the season, but only three home runs. The Blue Jays are about to call up hot prospect Brett Lawrie to play third base, moving Jose Bautista the outfield, and that means Snider, Eric Thames, Rajai Davis and Edwin Encarnacion are really fighting for two spots, in left field and at DH. I'd play Snider and Thames, but I suspect the Blue Jays might not. Snider's steal on Tuesday was a bit lucky; he would have been out but did a fancy slide and stuck his hand on to the base in an odd way ... he was still out. We need this guy to stick some home runs out of the park, too, or he won't play.

Other thoughts: Curtis Granderson joined Matt Kemp as the only players with 20 home runs and 20 steals. Ryan Braun should be next. ... Nobody questioned Dee Gordon being able to run. Let's see him get on base consistently. ... Thank you, Carlos Santana. Hey, four stolen bases for a catcher isn't nothing. ... Starlin Castro should run more. He stole one base in July. Now he has one in August. He should get at least five per month.