It’s not like I can offer any advice on making a play for Nelson Cruz because he is owned in every league, and you either have him on your fake squad or you don’t. But, the type of season Cruz is having needs to be talked about.
After taking a discounted, $7 million for one year, contract from the Orioles in 2014, he went on to lead the league in HR, assuring himself of a nice payday in free agency. He got $64 million from the Mariners to DH and proceeded to get drafted late in fantasy leagues. He was viewed as an injury-prone (159 GP as a DH) aging player who finally got paid, would not be motivated to stay on the field and play to his potential, and was in a terrible hitters park.
Well, Cruz entered play on Wednesday slashing an astonishing .327/.366/.766 (1st in slugging in MLB) with counting stats of 35 H, 18 R, 14 HR (1st in MLB), 26 RBI (1st in MLB) and (the cherry on top) 1 SB. The “injury-prone” slugger is, although it is early, posting Triple Crown contending numbers. As a DH, he would have to win the Triple Crown to capture the AL MVP Award, but as a DH, he can be the Fantasy Baseball MVP.
If you do not own Cruz all you can do is be jealous of the guy who drafted him outside of the top 50, because at this point it would take a 1st round player to get him. If you do own him, now would be a great time to trade him. Cruz is a career .270 hitter with one 100 RBI season on his resume. Last season was the first time he topped 30 HR since 2009 and the first time he reached 40. I would not sell low though. Check in with the Trout, Goldy, Miggy and Stanton owners to see if they are buying Cruz being this good. If not, then sit tight and enjoy the season. Just know, he will hit some slumps along the way.
Oh yeah. The power is real.
AL West Headlines
Astros keep winning. Going into Wednesday’s action, the Astros opened a six game lead in the AL West. A week ago I told you that they were not for real. I must have lit a fire under these guys because they went on to sweep the Mariners in a four game series over the weekend, extending their winning streak to ten games. The Astros are the only team over
.500 in the division, and I am beginning to buy-in. Somehow, with George Springer, Evan Gattis and Chris Carter all batting under .200, the Astros are 5th in the AL in runs scored. Jose Altuve is the best lead-off hitter in baseball and I seriously underestimated his impact to the Astros lineup. He and Springer have 10 SB apiece on the season at the top of the lineup. Getting free bases and into scoring position can mask many of the troubles Carter and Gattis have making contact. Speaking of Gattis, he has caught fire with 5 HR and 17 of his 18 RBI in the last ten games. Dallas Keuchel is emerging as one of the AL’s best pitchers, sporting a 0.80 ERA through 45 IP, and Collin McHugh isn’t too shabby himself. At the back of the bullpen, Pat Neshek and Luke Gregorson are as reliable as they come. All-in-all, the Astros have many great things going and just might be “Spectacular”.
Cano’s continued floundering. While Cano’s teammate, Nelson Cruz, continues to rule the world, Cano is still struggling to find his rhythm. He entered Wednesday’s play with a .261 BA, 1 HR and 7 RBI. He is a career .309 hitter and has multi-hit games in three of his last six. That could be a sign that a hot streak is coming. Although it is puzzling that a great hitter like Cano can struggle hitting in front of the most feared man on the planet, just remember, he is hitting in front of the most feared man on the planet. Cano will get it going and if Cruz is still hot at that time, the Mariners will be a happy group.
Chris Taylor gets the call. After Batting .313 with 6 SB in AAA Tacoma, Taylor got the call on Monday. He immediately displaced Brad Miller as the Mariners starting SS. He will get a long leash to take control of the job. According to Shannon Drayer of MyNorthwest.com, he is expected to “get a good opportunity” at shortstop with the Mariners. The days of Brad Miller are finally over.
Patience on Pomeranz. Pomeranz has been the definition of mediocre to open the season.
For fantasy owners who were predicting a breakout, it has been disappointing. The 4.61 ERA and 1.31 WHIP he is styling are nothing to write home about. Taking a deeper look, he has 25 K to only 6 BB in 25.1 IP. Missing bats at that rate and not issuing free bases is a great sign that there are better days ahead. If anyone grew impatient and dropped him in your league, run and grab him.
Waiver Wire Rescue
Nick Martinez, SP, TEX – I should have wrote about Martinez a couple of weeks ago. I kept waiting for the implosion. It has not come. He has a 0.84 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and a .237 BAA in 32 IP. He wont win many games on the Rangers or miss many bats, but those ratios are too good to leave on the wire.
Carlos Perez, C, LAA – The rookie hit a walk-off HR in his MLB debut. If you are desperate for a catcher, give him a try. He is a career .280 BA, .360 OBP MiLB hitter and could take the job from the struggling Chris Iannetta and run with it.
Chis Taylor, SS, SEA – Seattle’s new starting SS. I have been telling you about him for a couple of weeks and this will be your last chance to own a piece.
Johnny Giavotella, 2B, LAA – This is a deep league special. He doesn’t do much outside of batting average, but in a deep league at a thin position, that .288 BA can really help.
Carson Smith, RP, SEA – If you play in leagues that use MR, you should know Smith has emerged as the best arm in the Mariners bullpen through the first month of the season. He has only allowed 1 R and 8 base runners in 12.1 IP. He has struck out 14 and is now being inserted into high leverage situations with Danny Farquhar struggling and Tom Wilhelmsen on the DL.
Chris Iannetta, C, LAA – At minimum, he will be splitting time at catcher with the opportunity to lose the job totally. Hopefully he was never on your team to begin with.
Brad Miller, SS, SEA – He lost his job and the bench players on your fantasy team do not need to be bench players in real life.
Austin Jackson, CF, SEA – He was batting .242 with a .294 OBP before landing on the DL. He is not worth waiting for.
Danny Farquhar, RP, SEA – He is struggling mightily and losing his grip on being the backup to Fernando Rodney. Drop him for Smith if you can.
“And Boggs Never Walked Again”
Jed Lowrie, SS, HOU – Thumb, expected return after the All-Star break.
Matt Shoemaker, SP, LAA – Returned to rotation.
Mitch Moreland, 1B/DH, TEX – Elbow surgery, expected return late May.
Leonys Martin, OF, TEX – Wrist, day-to-day.
Josh Hamilton, OF, TEX – Shoulder, expected return late May.
Ryan Rua, OF, TEX – Sprained ankle, bum heel, no timetable for return.
Derek Holland, SP, TEX – Shoulder, expected return early July.
Yu Darvish, SP, TEX – Tommy John Surgery, out for the season.
Jurickson Profar, 2B, TEX – Shoulder surgery, out for the season.
Coco Crisp, OF, OAK – Elbow surgery, expected return late May.
Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF, OAK – Knee surgery, expected return mid June.
Jesse Hahn, SP, OAK – Made last start.
Sean Doolittle, RP, OAK – Shoulder, expected return early to mid May.
Jarrod Parker, SP, OAK – Tommy John Surgery, expected return late May.
Eric O’flaherty, RP, OAK – Shoulder inflamation, no timetable for return.
Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, SEA – Lat strain, expected return early June.
Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, SEA – Hyperextended elbow, expected return mid May.
Austin Jackson, OF, SEA – Sprained ankle, no timetable for return.
Should I trade Andrew McCutchen for Giancarlo Stanton? – Jimmy_gb
Yes. Yes you should trade Cutch for Stanton. Slow start aside, I like Stanton a heck of a lot more than Cutch. Stanton can be a difference maker in HR, RBI and OBP for your team. In addition he can throw in a few steals and bunches of runs. McCutchen is a well rounded fantasy player, but will not be a difference maker in any one area. Stanton is the best HR hitter in baseball and is still getting better.
Remember to send questions to [twitter-follow screen_name=’theCiccone’] or firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in future columns.
(Click the BLUE link to listen to the show)
Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday May 10th from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in at 646-915-8596. Our topics this week will be the N.L. East and N.L. Central.