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You may have heard some rumblings about this Stephen Strasburg guy. Allegedly, he's pretty good. Check that: he must be good, as usually the only time a Washington National warrants media attention is in relation to a comedy of errors (cough cough Nyjer Morgan cough cough). But from some of the trade proposals I've viewed in retaining Strasburg's services, you would think this guy was the mutant lovechild of Sandy Koufax and Walter Johnson.
Make no mistake, Strasburg's stats in the minors have been ridiculous (no earned runs in 18.1 innings at the AAA level, 0.89 ERA in eight minor league starts) thus far. Yet, questions surround the status of the 2009 #1 overall pick. For starters, while rumors and speculation abound, an official debut date for Strasburg has not been indicated by the Major League club. Another hurdle is Strasburg's monitored pitch and inning count. Considering Washington invested $15.1 million in his right arm, chances are a fairly-low workload will be non-negotiable. Additionally, Strasburg's opposition will be quite formidable, as the NL East has been the most competitive division in baseball in 2010. Yet these influences seem to be lost on the general fantasy public, as stalwarts such as Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria have been offered in exchange for young master Strasburg.
Which is why if you own the rights to Strasburg, trade him. Now.
Strasburg has already logged 40 innings this season. The earliest projections have Strasburg in the Washington rotation around June 5, meaning the San Diego State product will make one, possibly two more appearances in the minors. Using fellow former #1 overall David Price's 2009 campaign as a comparison (162.2 innings between AAA and MLB), Strasburg will probably appear in 110 innings or less the remainder of the season. Not exactly the allotment time a fantasy owner strives for from a supposed anchor of a staff.
The Cabrera and Longoria examples were extreme, but it's not unfathomable that a 2nd or 3rd round selection (think Justin Upton or Robinson Cano) will be presented in a trade for Strasburg. Unless your rotation is depleted to the point where you are plugging in the likes of Brian Bannister and Aaron Cook, ship out Strasburg while his demand is high. You may not get the same enjoyment following an Upton or Cano, but your fantasy team will be better off for it.
Start 'em: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays. Edwin had quite the series in Arizona, smacking 5 homers in 11 at-bats, including a 3-HR outburst on Friday. In his first 6 games since coming off the DL, Encarnacion has 11 RBI.
Sit 'em: B.J. Upton, Rays. Upton has 4 hits in his last 26 ABs, and is hitting a mere .213 on the season. With Desmond Jennings, a consensus Top 5 prospect in baseball, waiting in the wings in Triple-A Durham, Upton may be running out of time to fulfill his promise that made him the 2nd overall pick in the 2002 Draft.
Fantasy Flashback: 1885 John Clarkson. In 1885, John Clarkson started 70 games for the Chicago White Stockings, and in 68 of these contests, threw a complete game. To give that some context, in 2009 National League pitching staffs compiled 76 complete games COMBINED. Other noteworthy Clarkson achievements in '85: 53 wins, 623 innings, a 1.85 ERA, and a wicked handlebar mustache.
Waiver Wire Watch: For those of you looking to drop an underperforming player, make your first free-agent pick-up a player currently on the DL. Most leagues have a roster spot for those on the injured list, and by picking up and stashing someone like Jair Jurrjens, you'll have possible trade material down the line. Furthermore, you can select another player who can contribute immediately, thereby allowing you to pick up two players for the price of one.
Rookie Review: Jaime Garcia, Cardinals. The St. Louis left-hander is 4-2 with a 1.28 ERA in '10. Garcia has also posted a good K/9IP, with 42 strikeouts in 49.1 innings. And since we're on the subject of the Cardinals, has Tony La Russa aged in the last 30 years? I swear, the man is the real-life incarnation of Richard Alpert from "Lost." Think I'm full of it? Here's La Russa with Chicago circa late 1970s, La Russa with Oakland around 1988, and Tony in the present day. And in memorial of the series finale of "Lost", here are my theories to explain this ageless phenomenon. 1) He's on the same steroid cycles as his Oakland teams from the late '80s. 2) He's a charter member of the Mike Krzyzewski Hair Coloring Club. 3) He's on the same steroid cycles as his St. Louis teams from the late '90s. 4) His exposure and proximity towards animals has somehow left him with a superhero-like power against Father Time.
The Week in Jonathon Broxton: Another solid week for the Ox, picking up 3 more saves to bring his yearly total to 10. While he did allow a run in 3 innings of work (proving that no one is perfect), he fanned 6 batters who had the misfortune of battling the great Brox-bino (thanks to reader Sam for the nickname suggestion after last week's Babe Ruth/Broxton comparison).
Trade Talk: This is usually the time of the year when owners start to lose favor with underachieving All-Stars. You can possibly capitalize on this opportunity by getting a proven player like Prince Fielder for 85 cents on the dollar. Don't offend a fellow owner with an offer like Jorge Cantu for Mark Teixeira, but make it enticing enough where you can pull of a potentially season-swinging steal.
Big League Chew Player of the Week: Ben Zobrist, Rays. The Zorilla has been kicking ass and taking names. Zobrist is 13 for his last 23 with 2 HRs (doubling as his first two bombs of the season) and 7 RBI, helping Tampa Bay win 7 of their last 8.
Spit Your Tobacco at: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox. The 2008 AL MVP is hitting .080 in his last six games for Boston. You'd think Nyjer Morgan would have this award wrapped up after his hissy-fit contributed to an inside-the-park home run on Saturday, but let's be honest: it's Nyjer Morgan. The only way a dude hitting .259 with the Nationals is getting on TV is with a stunt like that, so if anything, Fantasy Fever applauds Morgan for getting his 15 minutes of fame.
That's it for today. And in honor of my awkward interaction with a police officer this weekend, our "Dumb and Dumber" Quote of the Week:
Harry: (showing his sweater) No, it's a cardigan, but thanks for noticing!
Until next week.
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Power Rankings - May 24th - The Tampa Bay Rays are close to knocking the Yankees out of the #1 spot!
SimLeague Baseball - Draft any player from 1885-Now! Carry Ruth, Koufax and Howard on your roster!