By Tom Lorenzo
Everyone is asking, “What can I expect from Johan Santana in the second half of the season?” Unfortunately, I’m not sure you can expect much of anything.
Santana is the first player who comes to mind when thinking about dynamic players who might return from injury in time to help you in your quest for a ring. Considering Santana has not pitched this season thanks to the surgery he had on his shoulder to repair a ligament tear, and despite the somewhat optimistic tone coming out of New York, it’s hard to imagine he’ll have any impact for Fantasy owners down the stretch. With the setback he already suffered in mid-June and the fact that the Mets are a long shot at making the playoffs, it’s hard to believe that Santana will see much more than the occasional reps in the final month-plus of the season. In fact, listening to sports-talk radio in New York, you continue to hear the Mets front office folks comment on the situation. People like J.P. Ricciardi, who is acting as a special assistant to GM Sandy Alderson, updated Mets fans on Santana’s progress, and he really left little to be optimistic about. Paraphrasing Ricciardi, on Sunday he said that Santana was throwing well and right on schedule. A schedule, which has no date or time attached to it. The fact is, the Mets are a losing streak away from thinking about next year. And they’re probably best served in thinking about how Santana can help them in 2012.
When you continue to hear words and phrases like, “he’s active” and “he’s looking good,” it’s hard to continue to hold out hope for a productive return. Santana and the Mets are already skipping a step or two, peering toward the future. With Francisco Rodriguez gone, Carlos Beltran on his way out, and the Mets core of young infielders, Jose Reyes, Ike Davis and David Wright, all dealing with various injuries, the Mets are trying to keep their 2011 season intact while not messing with a hope-filled 2012 campaign.
So while the name Johan Santana has always been synonymous with the words “impact pitcher,” we’re getting more familiar with the phrase “maybe next year” when it comes to the questions about his Fantasy prominence. Time to move on past Santana.
What about players who can help you win now? Let’s look at a few of said players who are in the news right now.
Mike Trout (OF, ANA)
Trout just bought himself a few extra at-bats, despite his early struggles in the big leagues. With Peter Bourjos landing on the DL, Trout will remain with the Angels, at least for now. Hitting just .125, with only one extra base hit and two RBIs in 24 at-bats, it seemed like Trout was on his way back to minors before too long. I spoke about Trout last week in that I admittedly spent too much FAAB on him in a re-draft AL-only league. I could see money being spent in Dynasty or Keeper leagues, but re-drafters should not be touching Trout. Obviously, you can make the case if you are in a deep AL-only league and desperate for an outfielder, given that Bourjos has been placed on the DL. However, you don’t want to break the bank for him. His time will come. It’s just not now. How many times do we see kids called up with tons of potential who flutter early on? We need to remember to temper our early expectations. Trout should be a star in due time, but for now he’s just a struggling rookie.
Zack Cozart (SS, CIN)
A little NL-only waiver wire alert! The Reds got a little offensive boost on Sunday in the way of SS Zack Cozart. The 25-year-old hit a solo shot against the Cardinals and now has at least one hit in each of his six big-league games this season. He’s not a huge power add, but the kid can certainly add some NL-only punch. In 323 Triple-A at-bats this season, Cozart has 35 extra-base hits and nine steals. Last season he stole 30 bases in Triple-A and hit 30 doubles with 17 home runs. Again, he’s not a “wow” power bat, but he’s a sufficient enough hitter that he should continue to get a bulk of the at-bats at SS for the Reds.
Brad Lidge (RP, PHI)
Lidge seems to be less than a week away from returning to the Phillies bullpen, which means that those of you who are riding out Antonio Bastardo need start thinking about alternatives. We’ve given you fair warning here at RotoExperts, so hopefully you have a plan in mind and/or you’re not relying heavily on Bastardo for saves. As well as Bastardo has pitched, the job will be Lidge’s once he’s deemed ready. I wouldn’t drop Bastardo until you see Lidge back on the mound, but you need to be prepared to drop him at some point.
Joe Nathan (RP, MIN)
As you know, Nathan has taken back the closer gig for the Twins, with Matt Capps having blown his seventh save of the season this weekend. Nathan got the save on Sunday and has not allowed a run in nine straight appearances. Believe it or not, Nathan can be had in 43 per cent of Yahoo! leagues. This is just your friendly reminder to make sure he’s not sitting on your waiver wires.
Travis Snider (OF, TOR)
Strangely, Snider is still available in 70 per cent of Yahoo! leagues. It must have been the 0-for-4 performance against CC Sabathia that spooked owners. Funny stuff. Snider was back at it again on Sunday, going 2-for-4 with a steal and an RBI against Phil Hughes and the Yankees. Over his last 11 games, Snider is hitting above .400 with nine doubles 12 RBIs and three steals. Unfortunately, he’s still not quite reaching his power potential, but he is driving the ball well, as is evident by the doubles. I think he should be owned in all formats. Period. Snider was a nice late-round sleeper, per many experts, heading into the season and now he’s finally putting it all together. He’s a great add.
Each week I will take a look at a few of the transactions in my expert leagues and give you my take.
Added: Raul Ibanez (PF, PHI) $4 [14-Team Mixed, FAAB $100] — I made this move just after submitting last week’s piece. That was the same day as the six-RBI game, and at the time, Ibanez was owned in just 30 per cent of Y! leagues. Now, he’s up to 41 per cent. The fact that he has 13 hits over his last seven games and has driven in 14 runs in that span really helps my case. I imagine that I’ll end up dropping Ibanez at some point, but while he’s hot, I’m sold.
Added: Shin-Soo Choo (OF, CLE) $4 [12-team AL-only, $100 FAAB] — I’ll say that I was a little bit surprised to see Choo dropped, but at this point in the season some teams can’t afford to hang on to injured players. Considering that Choo is at least 2-3 weeks away from returning, I’m taking a bit of a risk here, considering that despite the injury Choo has been a major disappointment this season. I have room on my bench, and I can afford to take a shot on the upside of his return. I say that if you too see Choo dropped by a desperate owner, take a shot and pick him up. Even if he’s not back until the second week in August, there is still plenty of baseball left to be played, and he could be a difference maker in your run at the ring.
Added: Mike Adams (RP, SDG) $3 [14-team Mixed, $100 FAAB] — The Heath Bell trade rumours are really starting to heat up, especially considering that the Padres have raised the asking price for Adams. I fully expect to see Adams closing games for the Padres once the deadline approaches. To me, three dollars seems like a fair speculative price. It’s not too much to spend on getting a closer for the second half of the season.
Added: Derek Holland (SP, TEX) $2 [14-team Mixed, $100 FAAB] — How can you not love a guy who pitched back-to-back complete-game shutouts? Holland has been a beast, striking out 15 batters and walking just three in said complete games. Yes, they came against the A’s and Mariners, but I have lowered expectations for Holland. I’m not expecting to have just picked up Roy Halladay off the wires. I got a decent starter who can give me some strikeouts and win me some games. His walks are a bit too high, but on the bright side, he’s done a fine job limiting his home runs, allowing just one in his last five starts. Not a bad coup for two bucks.
All stats through Sunday, July 18, 2011.
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Have a lineup or transaction question? You can reach Tom at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RotoLorenzo.
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