Chipper Jones (3B—Braves) Let's start this blurb off on the right foot and establish that Chipper Jones is an excellent ball player. He's a career .307 hitter with 427 home runs and a lifetime OBP of .406. He will more than likely collect his 2500 hit this year and when he retires could find himself with a plaque in Cooperstown. OK, with that established, I will now say that at this point in his career, Jones is an accident waiting to happen and unless you need to be slapped in the head with a wet fish to get the message, you need to have a solid back-up option at third base if you drafted Jones. NEWS FLASH: Jones may miss the entire weekend series against the Giants and possibly up to six games. What's the injury du-jour? Seems a strained oblique muscle is keeping him out of the lineup and on the bench. Shocking news, no? <------Note sarcasm. While Jones does have 1 home run to his credit this season, he is only batting .222. Sure, it's early but Jones' performance last year fell off the shelf with him batting just .264 and his weighted on-base average (wOBA) of .354 was his lowest since Coolio topped the charts with “Gangsta Paradise”--that would be 1995 for those of you who are less fly. Yes, there is a very good chance he will bounce back from that terribly un-Jones-like average. But the bigger concern is with as much as he is out of the lineup with injures and the onslaught of age, how much do you really want to manage your fantasy team to work around Jones' ailments?
Jeff Francoeur (OF—Mets) A little history was made at CitiField Friday night as Jeff Francoeur became the second Met to homer twice in the same game. Ironically, an inning before Rod Barajas became the first. And while I'm not certain of this, I would venture to say that with the pathetic output of home runs last year from the Mets, it's probably the first time they have hit four homers in one game at CitiField. Somebody call Elias. But Francoeur's contribution since coming over to the Mets last year have been quite productive. Go figure. Usually, players come to New York and freeze playing under the microscope. But Francoeur since donning a Met uniform has batted .317 with 12 home runs in 303 AB's. And I'm sure that “H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks” must be frozen over since he's even worked out 2 walks in his first 4 games this season. And as much as I'd like to think that this hot streak will last, chances are it will taper off. Frenchy's career OBP of .312 is the biggest issue in his achieving success since he swings at everything. But while he's hot, he makes for an interesting option especially with Jose Reyes back in the lineup on Saturday and should get more RBI opportunities.
Tim Hudson (SP—Braves) If there is anyone out there that didn't get the memo about Tim Hudson being healthy, then you're probably too late to grab him in your league, because chances are someone got a sweet deal on him late in the draft. His TJ surgery last year probably scared many away but when he came back at the end of '09, he was throwing with good velocity and throwing strikes. That's really telling because initially pitchers coming back from TJ surgery have a tough time finding the strike zone, but not Hudson. Hudson should have won Friday night's game against the Giants but late game heroics from Edgar Renteria (what's going on there?) stole a win away from him. Hudson was efficient throwing 77 pitches through 7 innings and had 13 GB outs to 4 FB outs. With numbers like, he can sustain a solid ERA without having a lot of strikeouts which you won't get from him anyway. But he won't hurt you with walks either as evident from a 2.76 BB/9 or his career. Hudson's average draft position this year was around 175 and if you were sly enough to nab him, he should provide a productive year on a competitive Brave team. Just watch out for health, but barring anything unforeseen, just sit back and enjoy.
Jorge De La Rosa (SP—Rockies) Jorge De La Rosa completely dominated the Padres Friday night, allowing just 1 hit through 7 innings and striking out 9. You could almost see this coming if you were paying attention to the signs because the 2nd half of 2009, De La Rosa seemed to be coming into his own as he posted a 10-2 record. He dropped his ERA from the start of last year from 5.21 and then pitched the second half of the year with a 3.46 ERA. Better than a run and a half differential. But the best thing about De La Rosa is that you get a two-for-one deal in that he is primarily a ground ball pitcher who gets a bunch of strikeouts. For his career he had induced ground balls at a rate of 43.8% and averages 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Friday nights game was indicative of that as the 12 outs that were recording by batted balls in play, 10 of them were groundouts so who cares if he pitches in Coors field with that kind of ratio? De La Rosa has the Mets in his next start so it will be a better litmus test than the poor hitting Padres. But De La Rosa should shine throughout the season and if by chance he is available in your league, you should jump on him right now.
Hiroki Kuroda (SP—Dodgers) Plain and simple, Hiroki Kuroda is probably one of the most unnoticed pitchers in the National League that should be getting a lot more attention. Hopefully with his outstanding performance on Friday against the Marlins, he will start to stand out. Kuroda pitched 8 innings, striking out 7, allowed 5 hits and only walked 1 batter. Pretty sweet! Kuroda is starting his 3rd major league season and although he was hampered last season by injures, he still put together solid numbers. He compiled a 1.14 and exhibited a solid K/BB of 3.63:1 ratio. He is the model of control allowing just 2 walks per 9 innings and controls the game with a GB% of about 50% so he has the ability to keep his BHIP below .300 assuming some reasonable amount of luck. And to top it off, In two seasons his HR/9 is 0.75. So with all of these solid component stats, why was Kuroda's ADP at around 225 in many leagues? Presuming Kuroda stays healthy, expect a year that will establish Kuroda more firmly on the fantasy radar because this will probably be the last season he will go so late in drafts.
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