Another year, another All-Star Break approaches. And don’t forget, this one counts. As much controversy has arisen over the Barry Bonds situation, there’s plenty of good about it as well. Seeing Ken Griffey Jr. back for the festivities is a welcome site after his days in Seattle, and reigning Home Run Derby champion Ryan Howard is back to win me some more cash when I bet on him again this year.
Meanwhile, players have been dropping like flies on the path to the break, and some who were thought to return prior to the road to San Fransisco have had theirs prolonged, forcing many owners to scrape up replacements. A look around at some of the happenings, including those who have gone down:
- Owners who watched, or even followed A.J. Burnett‘s first start must have known that the oft-injured starter just wasn’t ready to return. What surprises me are the comments which Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi made, saying that he basically regretted signing Burnett. Interestingly, Ricciardi made similar comments at the beginning of last season, doubting Burnett’s toughness when tests revealed no structural damage. "Honestly, I think [the injury] is more so in his mind than it is medically. . . . Three doctors have looked at his elbow and said the same thing." Burnett then said that was totally untrue. Ricciardi was the one who gave the guy the deal, is this just frusteration on his part? The guy isn’t a terrible GM, but there sure have been a lot of problems coming out of Toronto’s camp over the past year, especially with the B.J. Ryan fiasco. Luckily, Shawn Marcum has been a pleasant surprise, and Dustin McGowan figures to bring his ERA even farther down and live up to his billing as a first-round talent in the second half.
- Speaking of the Jays, AL-Only owners will particularly want to keep an eye on the outfield situation. Granted, Adam Lind hasn’t been the .300 hitter that most project him to be, but he has knocked out 8 homers and 30 RBI’s in 235 at-bats. Gibbons also said that he has improved defensively, but that may not be enough to keep him in the lineup with the return of Reed Johnson in the next week. The incumbent won’t provide the production in power categories that Lind will, but he did hit .318 last year and will give owners a handfull-more steals. AL owners who need a 4th or 5th outfielder will want to pick up Johnson if he’s still available. I have both players in my AL-Only league and may be forced to make a decision if Lind isn’t sent down..
- Mark Buehrle is perfectly healthy, but obviously still plenty swirling going on about his situation. To stir the pot even more, Buherle was seen packing things from his locker prior to the first game of Friday’s doubleheader against the Twins. While several other teams are trade candidates, the teams with prospects that seem to make the most sense for Chicago would be the Mets or the Braves. Any deal that involved New York would certainly entail the Sox to ask for outfielder Lastings Milledge.
- Certainly owners who drafted Randy Johnson this year expected more, but few pitchers have been more tantalizing than Rich Harden. The debate over his situation will be put to rest on Saturday when the projected ace of the staff goes up against Seattle. Seattle is just a middle of the road offense, but even if the game were played at Safeco, this is not a game fantasy owners with a quality pitching staff will want to gamble on with Harden. He’s expected to be held to 65 pitches, so it only figures to be about a five-inning outing for Harden approximately.
- While talk of taking away Orioles closer Chris Ray‘s saves are legitimate, the Brian Fuentes situation in Colorado is still absolutely perplexing. Not to knock Manny Corpas, who projects to be a decent setup guy for the future, but Fuentes has proven his worth over the last two years and to pull him out of the role after several bad outings with a little bad luck is extreme. Owners of Fuentes should certainly pick up Corpas, as he won’t hurt you like say a Gary Glover in Tampa Bay, but don’t sell low on Fuentes. He’ll have the job back shortly I believe.
Everyone enjoy the last few games before the break. I’ll have an article coming soon on the value of stolen bases compared with home runs that I’ve been working on. Good luck in your respective leagues until then.