Posts Tagged ‘Tommy Hanson’

Starting Rotation: National League East

January 21, 2010

Earlier in the week, I took a look at the starting rotations for each American League team. Now it’s time to switch gears and focus on the National League.

I will start in the National League East and go from there. The NL East is home to perhaps the two best pitchers in baseball in Roy Halladay and Johan Santana. Not only are there superstar pitchers in this division, there are also some great young arms like Josh Johnson and Tommy Hanson.

Here are the starting rotations for each National League East team as presently constructed.

Philadelphia Phillies

1. Roy Halladay, RHP

2. Cole Hamels, LHP

3. Joe Blanton, RHP

4. JA Happ, LHP

5. Jaime Moyer, LHP

Quick Take – The Phillies made the big move this offseason trading for Halladay. In doing such, they had to trade playoff hero Cliff Lee. While I have no doubt Halladay will be a Cy Young candidate in 2010, this rotation will only be as good as Hamels is. They really need him to bounce back this year.

Atlanta Braves

1. Derek Lowe, RHP

2. Jair Jurrjens, RHP

3. Tim Hudson, RHP

4. Tommy Hanson, RHP

5. Kenshin Kawakami, RHP

Quick Take – This rotation has so much depth, that the Braves were able to trade Javier Vazquez. I like this rotation because it’s a good mix of young (Jurrjens and Hanson) and old (Hudson and Lowe). If the Braves give him any run support, Jurrjens could be a Cy Young candidate in 2010.

New York Mets

1. Johan Santana, LHP

2. Mike Pelfrey, RHP

3. John Maine, RHP

4. Oliver Perez, LHP

5. John Niese, LHP

Quick Take – This rotation reminds me of those Boston Red Sox rotations back in the late-90’s. They had Pedro Martinez and a bunch of question marks. This is a big year for Pelfrey. Perez is reportedly got in the best shape of his life this offseason, so let’s see if that translates to his performance on the mound.

Florida Marlins

1. Josh Johnson, RHP

2. Ricky Nolasco, RHP

3. Anibal Sanchez, RHP

4. Sean West, LHP

5. Chris Volstad, RHP

Quick Take – This rotation is young, tall, and talented. Johnson leads this staff and is an early favorite to win the NL Cy Young award in 2010. At 6’8″, 240 lbs, West has a ton of potential. This staff also has top pitching prospect Andrew Miller waiting in the wings.

Washington Nationals

1. John Lannan, LHP

2. Jason Marquis, RHP

3. Scott Olsen, LHP

4. J.D. Martin, RHP

5. Craig Stammen, RHP

Quick Take – The addition of Marquis will help this staff, but overall, it’s still pretty weak. I really like Lannan. He is a good pitcher, who unfortunately plays on the worst team in baseball. Of course, all eyes will be on the development of Stephen Strasburg. There is a chance he could join this staff by the end of the year.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at the National League Central.

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Tim Hudson Signs Extension With Braves

November 12, 2009

In a move that has been rumored for weeks, the Atlanta Braves and Tim Hudson made it official today when the former University of Auburn standout signed a three-year contract extension.

The three-year deal is worth $9 million per season and includes a club option for 2013.

Tim Hudson

Hudson got a 3-year extension

This deal doesn’t come without its risks. Hudson is 34-years-old and is coming off Tommy John surgery. The first two years of this deal will probably worth it to the Braves, but it’s hard to imagine a 37-year-old pitching like a $9 million pitcher.

The Braves felt confident in Hudson’s health after he went 2-1 with a 3.61 ERA in seven starts at the end of last season. He also posted a 6.4 K/9 rate, which was his highest since 2001 with the Oakland A’s (6.9).

For his career, Hudson is an impressive 148-78 with a 3.49 ERA in 11 seasons.

With Hudson on board, the Braves right now have the deepest rotation in baseball. Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Tommy Hansen, Kenshin Kawakami, and Hudson form a formidable bunch.

I said right now before because it’s very likely the Braves will trade one of these pitchers. Lowe and Vazquez are the two pitchers most likely to be dealt.

The Braves would love to get rid of Lowe’s contract and Vazquez would give the Braves the most value in return. The return the Braves are looking for would be a big time bat.

I love how the Braves are now shopping Lowe. The Braves missed out on AJ Burnett last year, so they overpay to get Lowe just to save face, and now they are trying to trade Lowe because his contract is an albatross.

That’s just called bad business.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Baseball’s Best Starting Rotation: Midseason…

July 8, 2009

In the next installment of the Baseball’s Best: Midseason” series, we are going to take a look at baseball’s best starting rotation. The starting rotation is the backbone of any team and now we are going to see which team has had the best starting rotation for the first half of the season.

Baseball’s best starting rotation will be judged on four categories – ERA, Innings Pitched, WHIP, and OPS. As you noticed, I did not include wins as a category. My reasoning is that wins doesn’t necessarily reflect how good a pitcher – or a rotation for that matter really is. Just look at Javier Vazquez’s  and Dan Haren’s years for proof of that.

Each category is worth 10 points. If a team isn’t in the top 10 for that particular category, that team received zero points.

In my preseason edition of baseball’s best starting rotation, the San Francisco Giants had the No.1 rotation in baseball.

10. – 6. Kansas City Royals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs

5. Seattle Mariners – 22 points

ERA – Five

IP – Zero

WHIP – Ten

OPS – Seven

"King Felix" has been an ace this year

"King Felix" has been an ace this year

Analysis – Before you saw this post, if you had to guess who was the only American League team to finish in the top five who would it be? The New York Yankees? Boston Red Sox? Detroit Tigers? Well, as you can see it is the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners are led by their version of the “Big Three.” Felix Hernandez has become a legitimate ace and has gone 8-3 with a 2.62 ERA and 114 K’s in 116.2 IP. Free-agents to be Erik Bedard (2.50 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) and Jarrod Washburn (3.06 ERA, 90 hits in 105.1 IP) have really stepped up and pitched well for the Mariners in the first half.

4. Atlanta Braves – 25 points

ERA – Seven

IP – One

WHIP – Eight

OPS – Nine

Analysis – The Braves spent the entire offseason trying to revamp their starting rotation, and it has paid off. The Braves rotation goes five deep and features three starters who have sub-three ERA’s.

Javier Vazquez, who was acquired in the offseason from the White Sox has really been the ace of this staff. Despite a lack of run support which has cost him plenty of wins this year, Vazquez has a 2.95 ERA and has been one of most consistent pitchers in baseball. He has 12 Quality Starts in 18 games.

The Braves also have gotten a solid season from Jair Jurrjens (2.91 ERA) and have gotten a nice lift from top prospect Tommy Hanson (2.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP).

Offseason free-agent signings Derek Lowe (4.56 ERA) and Kenshin Kawakami (4.46 ERA) round out the rotation.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers – 27 points

ERA – Nine

IP – Zero

WHIP – Nine

OPS – Ten

Analysis – The Dodgers’ starters rank second in ERA (3.67), second in WHIP (1.26), and first in OPS Against (.684). It might be really nice to pitch in Chavez Ravine. Dodger Stadium can even turn Jeff Weaver and Eric Milton into respectable pitchers.

The Dodgers have been really led by three pitchers in the first half – Chad Billingsley, Randy Wolf, and Clayton Kershaw.

Billingsley is the ace of this staff and has pitched like it so far this year. Billingsley is 9-4 with a 3.14 ERA and has held right-handed batters to a ridiculously low .588 OPS throughout the first half of the season.

The Dodgers have also gotten Hiroki Kuroda back from injury and he has chipped in with a respectable 3.94 ERA and a very good 1.01 WHIP.

2. St. Louis Cardinals – 28 points

ERA – Eight

IP – Ten

WHIP – Four

OPS – Six

Analysis – I was shocked to see the Cardinals so high on this list. I wouldn’t expect a staff that features the likes of Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson to be one of the best in anything. It just goes to show you how valuable Pitching Coach Dave Duncan really is to the Cardinals’ organization.

As long as the Cardinals can keep Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright healthy, this staff will give the Cardinals a chance to win. Carpenter has been lights out this year with a 2.32 ERA, a 0.82 WHIP, and nine Quality Starts in just 12 starts.

Wainwright has also been impressive this year. The Cardinals’ righty is third in baseball with 122.1 IP and sports a 3.09 ERA in those 122.1 IP.

Lincecum leads the Giants' staff

Lincecum leads the Giants' staff

1. San Francisco Giants – 34 points

ERA – Ten

IP – Eight

WHIP – Six

OPS – Eight

Analysis – The Giants’ starting rotation was the preseason No. 1 and at the midway point in the season, they remain No. 1. I guess it helps to have the two leading Cy Young candidates on the same staff – Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

Lincecum and Cain have been the best one-two punch in baseball with a combined 19-4 record with 1.14 WHIP, 234 K’s, and a 2.33 ERA in 236.1 IP. If they keep this up we might have to change “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain” to “Lincecum and Cain and pray for rain.”

The Giants also can turn to two former Cy Young award winners to start games in Barry Zito and Randy Johnson. Zito has pitched better this year and has held batters to a .247 batting average this year.

Johnson, even at the age of 45 can still get it done. Johnson has a WHIP of 1.32 and has still been able to strike out 80 batters in 90.1 IP this year.

Tomorrow I will take a look at baseball’s best outfield.

*Please note all stats were calculated before today’s action.

Ten Things We Learned In June…

July 1, 2009

Can you believe it is July 1st already? Maybe I don’t think it is the middle of summer because it rained almost every freakin’ day in the northeast in June. What a terrible month for weather.

Despite the bad weather, there was still plenty of good baseball that was played. The month of June usually separates the pretenders from the contenders, and this year was no different.

Here are the top 10 things we learned about baseball during the month of June…

10. The MLB Draft goes mainstream. For the first time, the MLB draft was on TV and on in prime time on the MLB Network. This was a good job by baseball realizing the increased importance of the draft, and fans should get insight on who their team is drafting.

To nobodies surprise, the Washington Nationals made San Diego State RHP Stephen Strasburg the No. 1 pick in the draft. Strasburg is probably the most hyped draft pick in the history of the draft and if you are a Nationals fan (all 100 of you), you better pray this guy is worth every dime he is going to get.

Speaking of rookies and the draft…

9. Tommy Hanson is good. Tommy Hanson made his debut for the Atlanta Braves on June 7th and since then he has gone 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts.

While his walk to strike out ratio isn’t the greatest in the world (17 walks to 18 K’s), he has wiggled out of trouble, kept his composure, and looks to be the real deal for the Atlanta Braves.

Speaking of the Braves…

8. The trade winds are a blowin’. The Atlanta Braves fired the first shot of the season by trading three prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ All-Star CF Nate McLouth.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were very busy in the month of June. Besides trading Nate McLouth, they traded Eric Hinske to the New York Yankees, and traded Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan.

The Pirates weren’t the only NL Central team that was busy. The St. Louis Cardinals acquired perhaps the most versitle player on the market – Mark DeRosa from the Cleveland Indians.

Not only does DeRosa give the Cardinals someone to protect Albert Pujols in the lineup, but they also prevent DeRosa from being traded to his former team, the Chicago Cubs.

While on the subject of the Cubs…

7. Even All-Stars can be benched. The Chicago Cubs benched Milton Bradley, the Philadelphia Phillies benched Jimmy Rollins, and the Detroit Tigers sat down Magglio Ordonez. Kind of a rough month for these former All-Stars.

Did someone say something about former All-Stars being benched?

6. The demise of David Ortiz was premature. David Ortiz hit just .143 in May and everyone thought the Red Sox needed to trade for his replacement. Not so fast.

“Big Papi” wasn’t going down without a fight and Ortiz had a tremendous month of June. Ortiz hit .320 with seven HR’s, 18 RBI, and had a .409 OBP.

Let’s see if Ortiz can keep up the hot streak in July. Staying in the AL East…

5. The AL East is the best division in baseball. The Red Sox ended June with the best record in the AL, the Yankees have won five in a row and the Tampa Bay Rays have the best record in baseball after April.

Throw in the Toronto Blue Jays, who are three games over .500 and the Orioles, whose lineup can hit with anyone, it’s easy to see why the AL East is the best division in baseball.

It appears there will be two playoff spots for three teams.

On the topic of the American League…

4. The American League Dominated interleague play. The American League took the National League behind the woodshed in 2009. The AL had a 137-114 record against the NL.

While the NL has the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team with the best record in baseball, the AL from top to bottom is just a stronger league. If you put the Toronto Blue Jays in the NL, they probably would be the second best team in the league right now.

There was one team that stood out in interleague play. That team was…

3. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are back on top. The Angels had a brutal April and May. John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Vladimir Guerrero, Scot Shields, and Jose Arredondo all missed time for the halos. And of course, they went through the Nick Adenhart tragedy.

However, the Angels used interleague play to turn their season around. The Angels went an interleague best 14-4 and have returned to their customary position of AL West division leaders.

While the Angels were hot…

2. The Rockies were the team of the month. The Rockies fired Clint Hurdle at the end of May, hired Jim Tracy, and then the Rockies started beating teams left and right.

The Rockies lost their first three games in June and then only lost four more the rest of the month. At one point, they won 17 of 18 games, reminding fans of their great World Series run of 2007.

The Rockies are now 41-36 and are just 1.5 games out of a wild card spot. There may be another “Rocktober” in Colorado.

The Rockies were the team of the month, but the players of the month and the No. 1 thing we learned in the month of June was…

1. Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera are first-ballot Hall of Famers. It was a milestone month for Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera, two of the greatest pitchers off all-time.

Earlier this month, Randy Johnson became just the 24th pitcher and just the sixth lefthanded pitcher to win 300 games by defeating the Washington Nationals 5-1. The way the game is played now, Johnson might be the last 300 game winner.

Then later in the month, Mariano Rivera became just the second pitcher to record 500 saves for his career. Rivera now only trails Trevor Hoffman in all-time saves.

In my opinion, Randy Johnson is the greatest lefthanded pitcher of all-time and Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all-time. Both pitchers put an exclamation point on their already Hall of Fame careers.

That’s a wrap for the month of June. July should be even more exciting, as the July 31st trading deadline is one of the most interesting and exciting days in baseball.

One other thing I wanted to mention. As we all know, the title of my blog The Ghost of Moonlight Graham, was inspired by Burt Lancaster’s character in the movie Field of Dreams.

Well now the real life story of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham has been told. Brett Friedlander and Bob Reising have written the book “Chasing Graham.” It’s a fascinating story about a truly amazing man.

Brett Friedlander is a sports columnist covering ACC football and basketball for the Wilmington Star-News in North Carolina. He also writes for the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and the ACC Sports Journal. 

His co-author, Bob Reising is an English professor at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky and is the former head baseball coach at South Carolina, Duke, and Furman.

You can purchase this fascinating book here.

Tommy Hanson Chopping Down The Competition…

June 29, 2009

Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s the Atlanta Braves were rolling out quality starting pitchers like the Colorado Rockies were rolling out guys who could hit 30 HR’s. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Kevin Millwood, Jason Schmidt, Denny Neagle, Jason Marquis, Damian Moss and even Odalis Perez were winning  games for the Braves in their glory years.

However, things have changed over the last couple of years. The Braves have struggled to produce the type of pitcher that made them successful in the 90’s – until now. Top prospect Tommy Hanson’s hot start is giving Braves’ fans flashbacks of aces past.

Hanson has been lights out so far

Hanson has been lights out so far

Tommy Hanson has won his first four decisions in the major leagues and has a 2.48 ERA in five starts. And it’s not like Hanson has been pitching against cream puff offenses either. In his first five starts, Hanson has pitched against the  Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The Brewers, Orioles, Yankees and Red Sox all rank in the top 15 in offense in baseball.

What I have seen from Hanson in his last two starts against the Yankees and the Red Sox, is a pitcher who is very sure of himself. It’s very rare that you see a pitcher at such a young age to have a gameplan on the mound and stick to it no matter what is going on around him. Very impressive.

Here are some other facts about Tommy Hanson… 

Age: 22

College: Riverside Community College

Drafted: 22nd round of the 2005 Draft

Minor League Stats

2006 Rookie Ball: 4-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 56 K’s in 51.2 IP

2007 Single A: 2-6 with a 2.59 ERA and 90 K’s in 73 IP

2007 Single A+: 3-3 with a 4.20 ERA and 64 K’s in 60 IP

2008 Single A+: 3-1 with a 0.90 ERA and 49 K’s in 40 IP

2008 Double A: 8-4 with a 3.03 ERA and 114 K’s in 98 IP

2009 Triple A: 3-3 with a 1.49 ERA and 90 K’s in 66.1 IP

Keith Law Ranking and Analysis

Ranking: No. 9 out of 100 best prospects in baseball

Analysis: “Hanson made the top 100 last year as a bit of a sleeper whose upside made him worthy of the relatively high ranking, but in 2008 he cemented his status as one of the top pitching prospects in the game. Hanson projects as a potential No. 1 starter, with a four-pitch arsenal headlined by a 92-95 mph fastball and a plus curveball with great depth.

He’s 6-6 and gets good angle on his pitches, thanks in part to the work of the late Myrtle Beach pitching coach, Bruce Dal Canton, in keeping him over the rubber. He still has room to fill out physically and perhaps add a little velocity, and adding a slider last year gave him yet another weapon to miss bats.

Hanson has a few areas for improvement — his changeup is below average, so he doesn’t have a real out pitch against lefties; his command and control are both below average, although he can just overpower minor league hitters, which keeps him below the top 10.

He’s probably less than a year from contributing in the majors.”

The Atlanta Braves Make Two Great Moves…

June 4, 2009

The Atlanta Braves aren’t messing around this year. They want to win as badly as any team in the majors. They proved that in the offseason when they revamped their pitching staff by adding Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami and Javier Vazquez. And after the two moves they made yesterday, they have a just as good a chance of winning as any team in the majors.

In my post about Tom Glavine’s comeback attempt the other day, here is what I wrote.

“Here is the question for Braves fans….Would you rather have 43 year old Tom Glavine as your #5 starter or 22 year old phenom Tommy Hanson? Me personally, I would rather have Tommy Hanson.At this point in his career, you know what you are going to get with Glavine. Maybe five innings, seven to eight hits, four runs, no walks and one or two K’s. Nothing great. Hanson on the other hand, is currently 3-3 with a 1.49 ERA with 82 K’s in 60.1 IP for Triple A Gwinnett and most scouts view Hanson as a potential #1 or #2 starter. He looks like the real deal.”

Apparently, the Braves felt the same way I did. In a move that came out of nowhere, the Braves released Tom Glavine and called up 22 year old phenom Tommy Hanson. This is a great move.

Of course there are going to be people out there who wanted to see Tom Glavine pitch with the Braves again because well, he is “Tom Glavine.” But the Braves are trying to win this year, not 15 years ago. Tommy Hanson gives the Braves a much better chance of winning this year than Tom Glavine does.

Hanson will start on Saturday against the Brewers. Nothing like getting your feet wet against Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and the rest of the Brewer mashers.

The other great move the Braves made yesterday was the acquisition of Pirates CF, Nate McLouth. The Braves acquired Nate McLouth for prospects Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke. This is an absolute STEAL for the Braves!!

The newest Brave

The newest Brave

McLouth is very close to entering the Paul Molitor HOF of “players if they played in NY, LA or Boston would be superstars.” A couple of more years like the one he had last year (.276/26/94) and he will be inducted. He is that good.

McLouth is a superb player. He can hit, he can run and plays one heck of a CF. McLouth will fit perfectly into the Braves’ lineup and more importantly into their clubhouse. McLouth is known around the majors as a hard-nosed type player and has been liked by his teammates at every level he has been at.

And here is the best part of this deal for the Braves. McLouth was signed to a very cost friendly three – year $15.75 contract this past offseason. Which means the Braves will have him under control till at least 2011. If my math serves me correctly, and I think it does. The Braves will only pay a potential All Star around $5MM a year for the next three years. That works me for.

As for the prospects the Braves gave up, they are nothing special. Even though Charlie Morton was 7-2 with a 2.51 ERA for Triple A Gwinnett this year, he struggled at major league level last year posting a 4-8 record with a 6.15 ERA. Baseball America didn’t rank Morton among the Braves’ top 10 prospects in either 2006, 2007, 2008 or 2009.

Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke were both top 10 prospects in the Braves’ farm system. Hernandez was the #4 prospect in their system and Locke was their #7 ranked prospect according to Baseball America. However most scouts and analysts view Tommy Hanson, Jordan Schafer, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Kris Medlin as better major league prospects.

The Braves are once again on the warpath and look to be a serious player come September and October. If I was a Mets fan right now now? I would be seriously worried. With the moves the Braves made yesterday, they are now a better team.

The NL East should be one heck of a three team race down the stretch.

Glavine On The Comeback Trail Too….

June 1, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about John Smoltz being on the comeback trail. Now there’s another former Brave and future Hall of Famer on the comeback trail as well. Tom Glavine and his 305 career wins appear to be headed to a major league ballpark near you very soon.

Glavine pitched five scoreless innings on Thursday night for Triple A Gwinnett. In those five innings, Glavine allowed six hits, walked one and K’d two. He was also able to induce three double plays. Seems like a typical Glavine pitching line to me. Glavine will make one more start in the minors before joining the Braves. His start will most likely be on Tuesday for Single A Rome.

Glavine should join the Braves shortly

Glavine should join the Braves shortly

Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens and Kenshin Kawakami are set as the Braves’ top four starters. When Glavine joins the Braves he will replace Kris Medlen in the rotation. Here is the question for Braves fans….Would you rather have 43 year old Tom Glavine as your #5 starter or 22 year old phenom Tommy Hanson? Me personally, I would rather have Tommy Hanson.

At this point in his career, you know what you are going to get with Glavine. Maybe five innings, seven to eight hits, four runs, no walks and one or two K’s. Nothing great. Hanson on the other hand, is currently 3-3 with a 1.49 ERA with 82 K’s in 60.1 IP for Triple A Gwinnett and most scouts view Hanson as a potential #1 or #2 starter. He looks like the real deal.

I will always take my chances with a pitcher who has the potential to be a #1 or #2 over the mediocre pitcher who is only going to give you five innings. I know it’s hard to call Tom Glavine mediocre (maybe not if you are a Met fan), but that is what he is these days. If Hanson is the real deal, then the Braves will easily have the best rotation in the NL East and in maybe the entire NL.

It will be interesting to see what the Braves do. Kawakami is not going to the pen, so the Braves have one spot for two pitchers. The future Hall of Famer or the young hot shot phenom? We shall all find out sooner rather than later.

On a complete side note, I was watching the ticker this morning on ESPN and I saw that Florida State beat Ohio State 37-6 in the NCAA Men’s Baseball Regional. Are you kidding? The score was 32-0 in the fifth inning!!! It makes no sense that the NCAA would have a mercy rule for women’s softball, but not for men’s baseball.

Fantasy Week In Review 5/18-5/24

May 26, 2009

Since I missed my weekly fantasy week in review post last week because of a family matter I needed to attend, I was planning on doing a super 2 week fantasy review this week. Unfortunately that is not going to happen. Why? Because there isn’t a site out there that gives stats for the past 14 days!!! Every site is either 7 days, 30 days, etc… Very frustrating. Does anyone know of a site that gives 14 day stats?

That being said, I will do my normal fantasy week in review this week. Here are the fantasy studs, the players who are of concern, injury news and potential pickups for the week of 5/18 – 5/24.

Fantasy Studs

Joe Mauer – .458/4/13/.516. The best catcher in baseball, might soon become the best player in baseball.

Jason Bartlett – .385/2/13/.469. I thought this guy was only supposed to play defense?

Michael Cuddyer – .448/4/12. Any player who hits for the cycle is a fantasy stud.

Mark Teixeira – .444/5/10. I guess having Arod hitting behind you really does help.

Brandon McCarthy – 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 16 IP. Threw the very rare CGSO last week and at 25, looks to be coming into his own.

Madson has been lights out lately

Madson has been lights out lately

Joel Pineiro – 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 16 IP. 2 Quality Starts and a CGSO makes for a very good week.

Ryan Madson – 3 Holds with 0.00 ERA and 5 K’s in 3.2 IP. If your in a league that counts holds as a stat (one of my leagues does), then Madson is your guy. Right now he is the best set-up guy in the game.

Reasons For Concern

Brad Lidge – 2 blown saves, 6 hits, 2 walks and a 15.43 ERA in 2.1 IP. After not blowing a save in 2008, Lidge has now 4 blown saves in 2009. Lidge looked terrible against the Yankees. He has a 9.15 ERA on the season and is now wearing a special insole in his cleat which is designed to alleviate pain in his knee. There are a lot of reasons to be concerned with Lidge at this point.

Ricky Nolasco – Things have gotten so bad for Nolasco that he was sent down to the Minors after Friday’s start. If I had Nolasco on any of my fantasy teams, I wouldn’t drop him. I just think he has hit an extreme rough patch and he is too good to be this bad. He could help your team out in the second half of the season.

Chris Davis – .053/0/0. Everyone’s preseason mancrush struck out 10 times in 19 AB’s last week. On the season, Davis has K’d 66 times in just 150 plate appearances. That is almost half the time!!!

Scott Kazmir – Kazmir has been awful this year and was placed on the 15 Day DL last week. As I wrote, I am a little skeptical of this move. I could be wrong, but I think this is more the Rays asking Kazmir to take a time out rather than Kazmir having a serious leg injury.

Travis Snider – The Blue Jays sent the struggling Snider to Triple A last week. I guess if I pick you to win the Rookie of the Year award, you will be sent to the minors. I also predicted Cameron Maybin to win the award in the NL. Good times. I do however, expect both Snider and Maybin to be called back up in the second half.

Injuries

Chris Iannetta – Placed on the 15 Day DL with a strained right hamstring. This hurts because Iannetta was hitting .276/5/13/.364 in May.

Mike Aviles – Placed on the 15 Day DL with a strained right forearm. Aviles has fallen flat on his face this year and will not be missed by fantasy owners.

Rich Harden – Placed on the 15 Day DL with a bad back. Harden is halfway to filling his quota of two trips to the DL per year.

Losing Weeks is a big blow

Losing Weeks is a big blow

Edison Volquez – Placed on the 15 Day DLwith back spasms. I am not too concerned with this injury. Volquez should be ready to go the first week of June.

Rickie Weeks – Out for the year with a wrist injury. Crushing blow not only to fantasy teams but more importantly the Brewers. Weeks was headed for a breakout 2009.

Potential Pickups

Tommy Hanson – Hanson is ready and it is only a matter of time before he gets called up. Snag him before someone else in your league does. Especially if you are in a keeper league.

Anthony Swarzak – Swarzak threw 7 scoreless innings against the Brewers in his major league debut. He was one of the Twins’ best prospects before he was called up, so the potential is there.

Derek Holland – I really like Holland. He just reminds me of a young Steve Avery on the Braves, not the washed up Avery on the Red Sox. He pitched well in his first start of the season against the Astros. He only made one bad pitch and that was to Berkman in the 5th. Expect some rookie growing pains, but he should be in the Rangers’ rotation for the long haul.

Ryan Madson – Madson might be worth picking up if you have a roster spot. If Lidge continues to pitch like The Ghost of Wayne Gomes, then Madson would be next in line for save opportunities.