Big Mac traded 

July, 25, 2006
All day long Monday we heard that Alfonso Soriano was heading to the White Sox. But you know the denials are coming. Maybe the Sox are just trying to jack up the price. Maybe the Nationals don't like Brandon McCarthy. Maybe Ozzie's concerned that Soriano will hurt team chemistry. Who knows.

The funny thing, there was an actual major league trade on Monday, and it might affect fantasy baseball even more than when Soriano moves! A closer was dealt! And he's not closing anymore! Film at 11!

I'm so happy I spent that dollar on Mike MacDougal in my office league auction back in mid-March. Sure, I knew what I was getting into. He was hurt. The Royals stink. I'd stash him away and hope for saves at some point. Well, that some point arrived at the All-Star break, MacDougal mowed down the mighty Tigers on 10 pitches for save No. 1 on July 16 and ... now he's gone. He finishes with one save and joins Ozzie Guillen's hit-by-pitch brigade as the new main setup man for Bobby Jenks. We wish Big Mac well. The Royals have baseball worst record. The White Sox are good, though they'd better play better fast because the Twins are a comin'...

Bottom line in fantasy, of course, is that no matter where Soriano goes in a trade, he's going to hit. His numbers, really, are staggering. After all the whining and moaning about Soriano going to RFK Stadium, look at his stats, he has more homers there than on the road. Also, more walks, steals and a darn good OPS over 1.000. On the road he's merely OK. And get this, in July Soriano has walked more times than he's struck out! He's maturing. What a great bargain for any team.

What about MacDougal? Well, he's one of many setup men with little chance to earn saves. Cut him. Let him go. And learn how to spell Ambiorix. Again.

With that, here's the fantasy baseball buzz for this lovely Tuesday in bucolic Bristol:

• Soriano to the Sox? Or is it a ploy? Think Ozzie wants to see Scotty P back in center field? Didn't think so.

• Three saves in July, that's what the Royals have. One for Big Mac, one for Elmer, one for Ambiorix. Now one is gone. How will the team react?

• Glad you dealt for Derrek Lee last week? Didn't think so. But Phil Nevin pays immediate dividends.

• Striking out 12 hitters in five innings is a beautiful thing. Of course, Cole Hamels also allowed seven runs.

• Yeah, we've had just about enough of that Anthony Reyes guy, I'm afraid.

From our pals at Elias Sports Bureau, and how it affects fantasy:

• The Tigers don't walk. They strike out too much. And they've also torched three straight veteran starting pitchers for five or more runs in the first inning the last three games. Elias reports that hadn't happened in 115 years, or back when Kenny Rogers was a rookie. What does it all mean? Well, Paul Byrd doesn't look so enticing for tonight's game, does he? True test comes this weekend with both Francisco Liriano and Johan Santana on the docket. Speaking of Tigers, if Dmitri Young hits, he plays. And right now he's hitting, as it appears he has something to prove. Ride with it and use the guy.

• The only other pitcher to fan 12 hitters in 5.1 or fewer innings was J.R. Richard in 1978. Significance? Hamels clearly can strike people out, but if he wants to be the next Steve Carlton, or even Cliff Lee, he needs to throw fewer pitches and stay in games deeper. I watched Hamels last night, and while he did look tremendous at times, he remains hittable, especially, as Elias points out, after the first time you face him. The last time Hamels completed six innings in a start was June 21. Tough to win games that way. Hamels is down to 31.7 percent owned in mixed leagues, and with the 5.98 ERA and two wins in 11 starts, it's hard to disagree. But you want him in 2007.

• Elias and our pal Tristan Cockcroft in Out of the Box each discuss how good Jeff Francis has been at Coors Field this season, so I won't belabor the point other than to note it's well past the time to view Francis and a few other Rockies pitchers as fantasy enemies. Runs are not being scored in bushels in Denver, and Francis is a good option, especially there. Strange days indeed.


Skipped out on the in-depth look at the Most Added/Dropped list last week, and people weren't pleased. So here we go.

Top 10 most added players:

Dan Kolb, Brewers: Anytime a closer is out there in fantasy, you must take a look. Sure, we don't trust Kolb. He was brutal last year, and he's got brutal numbers this year. I think Jose Reyes can run to first base faster than a Kolb pitch is thrown. But he's going to get the next save chance. Ned Yost has told everyone that Jose Capellan is not in the mix, so there's no need to sign him. Matt Wise threw two frames last night and is the No. 14 addition in fantasy. What I think happens here is that when Derrick Turnbow gets his act together, which I expect to happen by next week, he gets another chance to reclaim the role. Thanks to the fine baseball fans in Wisconsin who alerted me to his new nickname: Turnblown. Tremendous. So, own Kolb, he might keep the job and flourish, or he might get obliterated tonight and get designated for assignment. Really, it's that wide a spectrum. He's gone from 0.1 percent owned to 83.2 in five days.

Fausto Carmona, Indians: With Bob Wickman being shipped to Atlanta, Carmona gets his chance to close. He's actually been very good as a reliever this season, with an ERA of 0.99 in 27.1 innings. But will he be LaTroy Hawkins as a closer? I think Carmona will be just fine.

Ray Durham, Giants: Up nearly 50 percent to 73.8, thanks to four home runs in the last nine games and 16 for the season. Not a bad player at all, it's hard to fathom why he was so ignored. Now on pace for 29 homers, 101 RBI and 81 runs. He's Jeff Kent!

Juan Rivera, Angels: Power-laden corner outfielder remains a risk, frankly. Homered last night, but before that he knocked in zero runs in a four-game set at Kansas City. So he's a little all or nothing, despite the .288 average. But the 15 home runs are legit.

Adrian Gonzalez, Padres: Now up to 95.5 percent owned. While I'm clearly on his bandwagon, I do need to point out he hasn't homered in seven games. He is, however, over .300 now and I'll set his over/under on homers and RBI at 31 and 84.

Josh Barfield, Padres: No power, and really, hasn't done much in the last week (.269, one steal, two runs, two RBI). Maybe people are finally noticing he's a middle infielder with 14 steals and a .300 average. Oh, and he goes to Coors this week (which as we know, doesn't mean what it used to).

Gil Meche, Mariners: Saying he hasn't lost since May just isn't enough. Jose Contreras didn't lose for like a year! Meche has pitched well in those last nine starts, dropping his ERA more than a run and striking people out. You can do worse.

Scott Olsen, Marlins: Stop thinking about the fact he's a Marlin. They're actually in the wild card race. Olsen has lost only once in his last 10 starts, and allowed more than three runs in none of them. With eight wins and nearly a strikeout per inning, he's much more valuable than Philly's Hamels.

Ambiorix Burgos, Royals: Saves are saves. Some might scoff at that, but it's true. He who gets the opportunities for saves, even if they blow a few of them and don't have good numbers, is more valuable than he who does not get save chances. Burgos has actually performed better of late, but that was in a setup role. But you've gotta add him anyway.

Anibal Sanchez, Marlins: He's started five times, and won the three times he didn't allow a run. Of course, the other two starts he allowed 12 runs in 9.1 innings. He's 22. What do you expect? Do I start this kid at Atlanta tonight? Nope, not when the Braves are scoring double digit runs nightly. Be careful with Sanchez.

• Others: Three catchers are here, and all are fantasy worthy. Why was Michael Barrett ever dropped? He's been terrific since the suspension. Other backstops are Brian McCann and Mike Piazza. I'll take McCann. Adam LaRoche is definitely worth adding while he's hot, as is Reed Johnson. You can always cut 'em in a few weeks. Johnson will keep playing when Alex Rios returns, by the way.

Top 10 most dropped players:

Ken Ray, Braves: Second time this season he's been supplanted, but this time it's for real. Wickman will be fine. You know, Ray could get some wins for this hot team.

Zach Miner, Tigers: Has allowed 10 earned runs in his last two starts, covering 6.2 innings, with only one strikeout. Far different than his six-game winning streak, eh? Look for the Tigers to upgrade him before the deadline.

Bob Howry, Cubs: Still 50-50 that Ryan Dempster gets dealt. Pounce on Howry if it happens.

Derek Lowe, Dodgers: His last real good outing was more than a month ago. I'd punt him, too.

Josh Willingham, Marlins: It's about time he gets cut in mixed leagues. Was owned in 93.4 percent a week ago! People, he has 11 home runs, and five of them came in April. He's batting .210 in July. I saw someone actually playing Willingham in their fantasy outfield. That's insane.

Dave Bush, Brewers: I still like him, because his WHIP is so good in comparison to that rising ERA (4.72 ERA, 1.25 WHIP). But the Reds lit him up over the weekend, and in many leagues he's just a spot starter. He's also on pace for more than 175 strikeouts.

Mike Napoli, Angels: When most success stories end, they end badly. Napoli has nice power, but going 1-for-17 in your last eight games isn't a good sign. Get the hot catchers down the stretch and remember, that could easily be Napoli any day.

Jorge Sosa, Braves: Who said he might have success as a closer? Um, I admit it. He hasn't pitched in more than a week.

• Mike MacDougal, Royals: And all the drops came in the last 24 hours! Good to see people are on the ball!

Jose Lopez, Mariners: Like Willingham, another drop that was long overdue. Lopez piled on the RBI in the first half of the season, but has only one RBI this month. Could easily start knocking in runs tonight, so be careful.

• Others: Chuck James is being cut. I think that's a mistake. Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes are ice cold. And Jason Kubel just can't overcome those bad knees.

OK, football talk tomorrow, back to baseball with the closers on Thursday. Adios.