Wednesday, July 3, 2013
A-Rod back in action; Bailey unhittable
By Eric Karabell
Baseball's active home run leader participated in his first game of the season Tuesday night for the Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs, and while Alex Rodriguez still has a way to go before he's actually manning third base for the New York Yankees, hey, it's a start. A-Rod was hitless in two at-bats as he continues to recover from left hip surgery, and while it was easy for fantasy owners to ignore him for the first three months, now is precisely the time -- not in three weeks -- to at least investigate whether he can potentially help you.
As of Tuesday night, Rodriguez was owned in 6.8 percent of ESPN standard leagues, which seems awfully low based not only on name value, but also potential production. After all, even as a shell of his former self, Rodriguez hit 18 home runs and stole 13 bases in 122 games last season. He hit a reasonable .272 along the way and finished the 2012 season as fantasy's No. 14 third baseman, ahead of such guys as Pedro Alvarez, Brett Lawrie and Jose Bautista. That's not too bad, and I admit to being surprised that the likes of Eric Chavez, Yuniesky Betancourt and Maicer Izturis, among third base-eligibles, are owned in more leagues. That will change in the coming days.
I think quite a few fantasy owners will check the headlines Wednesday -- and this blog entry -- and be surprised Rodriguez is so close to being relevant again, but it's true. There was discussion back in March that he wouldn't play at all this season, and while he's targeting July 22 – the Monday after the All-Star Game – as his return date, it's hard to know what to expect. For example, how can a 37-year-old player already in clear decline and coming off serious hip surgery expect to stay healthy, yet alone steal bases? Well, he can't. But Rodriguez has always hit for power, regardless of circumstances, so four or five home runs per the final two months, along with the requisite RBIs, really isn't asking for much. Don't judge him on his October 2012 performance, as he was clearly hurt. Now, perhaps he isn't.
[+]Enlarge Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsRays ace David Price showed no signs of rust Tuesday.
Box score bits (AL):Tampa Bay Rays lefty David Price came off his DL stint Tuesday with a bang, allowing three singles and striking out 10 over seven shutout innings at Houston. Price needed only 70 pitches! I almost always activate stud pitchers off DL stints, so if you didn't with Price, do so this weekend when he faces the Chicago White Sox. What's gotten into Raul Ibanez? He smacked his 20th home run Tuesday, yet remains available in a quarter of ESPN standard leagues. Mock if you like, but only six players in all of baseball have more home runs! More Mariners: Kendrys Morales hit two homers Tuesday and knocked in six. He's on pace for 94 RBIs, yet he's owned in barely half of ESPN's leagues. The amazing John Lackey continues to exceed reasonable expectations, as he lowered his ERA to 2.81 with eight innings of one-run ball Tuesday. The rejuvenated right-hander has never finished a season with his ERA or WHIP this good, and given his strikeout rate, the "obvious regression is pending" line isn't necessarily accurate. Red Sox infielder Brandon Snyder hit a three-run double Tuesday to help Lackey; Snyder is playing third base with Will Middlebrooks in the minors and Jose Iglesias (sell now!) handling shortstop for the injured Stephen Drew. Snyder, 26, has a little pop and hasn't been overwhelmed in previous big league stints. Not a bad dollar addition in AL-only formats.
Box score bits (NL):Cincinnati Reds right-hander Homer Bailey no-hit the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday, fanning nine and walking only one. Bailey entered Tuesday with one of the top-10 xFIPs among qualified starting pitchers, despite an inflated ERA, but good luck buying low now. The vastly overrated Tim Lincecum had a typical line in losing to Bailey's Reds: He fanned eight in 5 1/3 innings, but gave up six hits, two walks and three runs. His ERA is 4.66, his WHIP 1.44, and there's no reason to expect better. Still wondering who's closing for the Milwaukee Brewers? Jim Henderson pitched the seventh inning Tuesday. Francisco Rodriguez is the closer. Miami Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison hit his second home run and seventh extra-base hit in 16 games since making his season debut. He's hitting .321, taking walks and driving the ball well. It's early, but LoMo looks legit. Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin suffered his first loss Tuesday, as the New York Mets tagged him for five runs in six innings. Corbin has been a sell-high choice for a month based on his record, ERA and WHIP. It's also worth noting the team's bullpen issues and the fact that the last Arizona starter to win a game was Wade Miley on June 5. The Los Angeles Dodgers pounded out 14 hits and eight runs at Coors Field on Tuesday, yet Matt Kemp was hitless in five at-bats, with three strikeouts. It's just one game, but as with Josh Hamilton, I still see little reason to buy low.