There is no questioning that Middlebrooks is a skilled ballplayer. He put up a .302/.345/.520 line with 18 home runs in 397 plate appearances at Double-A last season and started the 2012 season on fire, tearing up Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .333/.380/.677 line with nine home runs in 100 plate appearances. Since being called to The Show, he hasn't exactly slowed down...at all. Coming into today, Middlebrooks was hitting .381/.380/.952 (no, that's not a .952 OPS, that's a .952 SLG!) with three long balls in only 22 plate appearances (he doubled in his first at-bat as I started writing this).
First up, the Cole Hamels suspension. I'm not going to go into the reasoning for the suspension, that doesn't matter. I want to focus on the actual act of suspending. I feel that suspending pitchers is a joke. He has a five game suspension. So pretty much that means he pitches on an extra day of rest. It's dumb. it's not a punishment. If a position player is suspended for 3 or 5 games, he actually misses 3 or 5 games. A starting pitcher only plays once every 5 games, so in essence he is suspended for games he wasn't scheduled to be in anyway. If a player is going to be suspended from games, he needs to be suspended from games he is actually going to have an impact on. I'm not a lawyer so I don't know what kind of language the rule needs, or how to make the players union and MLB agree to it, but for a starting pitcher to be suspended and have it be an actual punishment, he needs to miss a couple turns through the rotation or something. Now, all that being said, I own Hamels on my 2nd place Blog Wars team, and I'm pumped that he will be able to pitch this week in the weekly lineup format we use.
Next Item on the agenda; Carlos Zambrano, another player on my Blog Wars team. I grabbed him with my 2nd to last pick in the draft. The definition of draft lotto ticket, he has paid dividends so far. This week (a two start week) is the first I am actually using him in my lineup. He has a rep for not being the most stable guy in the club house, but neither is his manager. The Ozzie and Carlos marriage is one I figured would work, and to this point everyone has to be happy. He picked up his first win last night, a complete game 3 hit shutout in which he struck out 9 Astros. It was his 5th quality start in a row. There is a lot to like about him this year. His K/9 is up from last year while his BB/9 are down. His ground ball rate is back to where it was when he was the ace of the Cubs staff from '03-'06/'07. His current swinging strike rate is the highest it's been since 2001. Looking at his Heat Maps on Fangraphs, he has the off-speed stuff working, keeping his slider in on righties and the change up low and in on lefties. Both pitches are avoiding the strike zone and batters are chasing. I haven't been able to watch any of this games, but I imagine it pitches are heading for the zone then breaking out of it forcing the batter to swing. At this point he has earned some trust despite the level of competition in his quality start streak. (HOU, WSH, ARI, SF, HOU again).
36-year-old Paul Konerko is off to a tremendous start this season, hitting .347/.426/.614 with six bombs, 14 runs, and 17 RBI. His value might never be higher.
Paulie has hit over .300 for the past two seasons and he’s off to a great start in 2012. However, it’s highly unlikely that he will sustain a BABIP over .360. The question is, when his AVG drops, how far will it go? Konerko has a rather high 19.4-percent HR/FB rate, yet a rather low fly-ball rate, a stat that has been trending down for a couple of years now. Another trend has been Konerko’s rise in line-drive rate, which seems to be continuing this season as well.
Last season, Konerko had a fantascit first half of the season, hitting .319/.390/.564 with 22 home runs. However, he faded big-tme in the second half, hitting .272/.385/.447 with only nine home runs.
Because of his age and the possibility that he will fade a bit in the second half as he did last season, it’s worth shopping him around. However, if the price isn’t right, he’s a solid hold.
What's happening in the water in major metropolitan cities across the US? Has the trace amount of fluoride in the tap just suddenly started to disintegrate tendons in your joints? Does pine tar gain the properties that destroys calcium in your bones? I'm not sure exactly what's causing our favorite athletes to drop faster than Charles Barkley does names on TNT. Let's take a look at who exactly went on the 15-day DL this week, how it'll affect their team, but most importantly, how it's going to affect YOUR fantasy team.
OF Carlos Gomez, SS Alex Gonzalez and 1B Mat Gamel, The Good Land Brewers
All in a week, three Milwaukee starters went down with leg injuries, including Gomez with a strained hamstring, Gonzalez with a right knee injury and Gamel with a torn ACL. Extremely bad news for a Brewers team that's already under .500 and trying to get their postseason mojo back after losing Prince Fielder to free agency and trying to escape Ryan Braun's cheatery scandal.
The problem here isn't so much that these guys are integral parts to the Milwaukee offense; Gomez was an above-average player, while Gamel and Gonzalez were giving the Brewers replacement-level production. Nor was it that they had any particular upside as the season went on. The real hurdle to their absences, especially a season-ending injury like Gamel's, is that the players replacing them are indicative of Milwaukee's lack of depth. Two punchless hitters in SS Cesar Izturis and 1B Travis Ishikawa are now the starters, and an under-achieving OF Nyjer Morgan is replacing a cresting Carlos Gomez. Sure, Gamel, Gonzalez and Gomez weren't All-Stars or highly productive hitters, but at least they were decent, rather than the below replacement-level stink performed by their understudies. All in all, a devastating week for Milwaukee.
Fantasy Spin: None of these three are worth even holding on your DL spot, unless you're in a very deep mixed league or NL-only league (in Gamel's situation, he's a must-drop for everyone). Their replacements aren't worth picking up either, so if you owned anyone that I just talked about, you're pretty much screwed. Sorry.
For more on the many injuries over the past week check out the rest of their article.
Jose Altuve has already has 5 steals which is halfway to what Weeks has averaged for the full season in each of the past two seasons. Jason Kipnis is in the midst of making the jump from potential to player. Veterans Kelly Johnson and Omar Infante are not the most appetizing names out there, but both players have gotten off to solid starts.
Weeks is still hitting leadoff for the Brewers and the season is only one-sixth complete, but if you would not pick up a player with Weeks' numbers on free agency then don't let his past reputation prevent you from improving your team. Weeks is not worthy of being owned in a mixed league.