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Monday August 28, 2006 11:22 am

American League Fantasy Notes:  A.L. East




Posted by Tom Massimo Categories: Fantasy, MLB, News,

BOSTON RED SOX

Mike Lowell has just three extra-base hits in the month of August.  He is still batting a solid .289, thanks to a strong 90% contact rate and .79 batting eye.  In his disastrous 2005 season, when had just 8 home runs, his G/F ratio remained low at .66 and in-line with previous seasons.  This year it has risen to a still low .88.  But with 15 home runs in 460 AB this season, it is starting to look like last season’s complete power outage was not a fluke, but rather the beginning of a decline in his power.


Alex Gonzalez is out until early September with a strained oblique muscle.  Alex Cora and Dustin Pedroia should share time at shortstop until Gonzalez returns.  Cora is completely devoid of power.  His high contact rate and good batting eye could get him on base enough to generate a few steals, but it is probably not worth the trouble.  Pedroia’s defense is better suited for second base and with Mark Loretta in and out of the line-up he could pick up some starts there.  As a hitter, he makes excellent contact and has a very discerning batting eye.  He does not have much power and with 4 caught steals in 5 tries in Triple-A, don’t count on any stolen bases either.

Jon Lester was scratched from his scheduled start today because of a sore back.  Kason Gabbard will step in for him against Oakland.  He is not recommended.

Manager, Terry Francona does not seem pleased that Manny Ramirez has missed 3 of the last 4 games with a sore knee.  In any event, he should be safe to use this week.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

In 3 of his 4 starts since returning from the minors, Daniel Cabrera has 3 wins with just 1 ER in 23 innings.  The most important thing is that he issued just 6 walks, which has been his downfall.  It is the other start in Fenway Park that gives fantasy owners of Cabrera fits.  In 4 innings, he allowed 7 ER and walked 5 batters.  He has the ability to be dominant and is worth using when the match-up is favorable.  You probably should not have him active for his next start in Texas.

Jay Gibbons has just 1 home run since his late July return from a knee injury.  The knee has been bothering him all year and now he is also dealing with some left shoulder stiffness.  He is still hitting fly balls at his usual rate, so the injuries are hurting his ability to clear the fences.

The Orioles traded Jeff Conine to the Phillies where he will platoon with David Dellucci and serve as a right-handed pinch-hitter.  The trade opens up more playing time for Kevin Millar, Brandon Fahey and when he returns in early September, David Newhan. 

In his final minor league game before his September recall, Hayden Penn threw 8 shutout innings, while fanning 10 and walking none.  He finished the Triple-A season with an impressive 2.26 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. 

NEW YORK YANKEES

Mike Mussina went on the 15-day DL with a strained groin and should be out until September 5th.  That should give Jeff Karstens at least one more start.  In 14 Triple-A starts, his numbers were unimpressive, a 4.28 ERA, 5.86 K/9 and a 3.67 BB/9.  In two major league starts he has allowed 6 ER in 11.2 innings, with just 3 strikeouts and 4 walks.  He is not recommended.

There has been some talk that Carl Pavano could rejoin the Yankees rotation on Thursday, but not surprisingly, he has suffered yet another setback.  This time it is a sore oblique.

Since returning from the DL, Robinson Cano has 4 home runs and 10 doubles in 80 AB.  At just 23 years old, it is a good sign to see he power developing as the season progresses. 

Hideki Matsui is expected to take batting practice this week.  If all goes well, he could be ready to return in early September.  . 

TAMPA BAY DEVIL RAYS

Jae Seo was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained left groin.  Jason Hammel replaced him in the rotation.  In his first major league game since April, he allowed 2 ER in 5.2 innings.  But with 5 hits, 4 walks and 1 strike out, it should have been worse.  He should get at least one more start, but should be avoided in all formats.

The Rays traded Russell Branyon to the Padres and called up Kevin Witt, who was tearing up Triple-A pitching with 36 home runs, 99 RBIs and a .291 batting average.  Witt is 30 years old and had previous trials with the Padres, Blue Jays and Tigers.  Since joining the team, he has started 2 out 3 games and has already hit a home run.  Be careful, his 132 K’s and 73% contact rate in 485 Triple-A AB will translate into many major league whiffs and a low batting average.

Scott Kazmir went back on the 15-day DL with tightness in his left shoulder.  It might be a good idea for the team to shut down the talented 22 year-old for the season.

Jonny Gomes is visiting a doctor today to examine his shoulder.  It is likely that he will elect for season-ending surgery.  If he does, it makes all the sense in the world to bring up Delmon Young and play him regularly. 

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Ted Lilly has been hit hard in his last six starts, allowing 22 ER in 29.1 innings.  With a 3.37 BB/9 in those starts, his walks are slightly elevated but are not at the levels that have caused him trouble in the past.  The main problems have been the 7 home runs allowed and some shaky bullpen support.  With a G/F ratio of .91, Lilly is going to have periods where the balls fly out of the park at a higher rate.  Since he seems to be in one of those funks and his next start is in Fenway Park, which increases right-handed batting power by 13%, it is a good idea to reserve him for the week.

After a hot start to the season, Alex Rios has cooled down considerably.  Since returning from a two-month stint on the DL with a staph infection, he is batting just .209, with only 4 extra-base hits in 91 AB.  He probably has not regained the strength that he lost fighting the infection.  Smart fantasy owners thinking ahead to 2007 will give him a pass on his bad second-half and remember that he hit 15 home runs in just 270 AB early this year.

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