This Week in Roto

I've been remiss about posting updates for fantasy baseball, but it's still fairly early and trends are only now starting to develop.

Jesus Colome
I was pretty high on Colome to start the season, especially after a strong showing in the spring training.  However, that blew up with his first couple of outings this season and left the naysayers saying their "I told you so's" through most of the first month.  

Not so fast.  After those first two outings, Colome has been on the verge of impressive.  He's pitched 19 innings, allowed just 15 hits and 6 walks (1.1052 WHIP) and only 4 earned runs (1.89 ERA) with 12 strikeouts.  Not the stellar numbers of uber-closers like Gagne or Smoltz, but pretty decent. Meanwhile, over the same time frame, D-Ray closer Lance Carter has pitched 20 innings, allowed 18 hits, 8 walks and 9 earned runs with 12 strikeouts.  I'm not saying Colome will necessarily become closer next week, but he's pitching well enough to take over the role if Carter should continue to waver..

Julio Lugo
Speaking of the Devil Rays, Lugo was released by the Astros and signed by Tampa this week.  As a player, the knock on him has been inconsistent defense.  The Devil Rays have mentioned that they'd like to use him as a Melvin Mora-type super-utility player, subbing at short while Rey Ordonez is out with an injury and then playing a number of positions the rest of the way.  This seems like a perfect fit for Lugo, who won't have to worry too much about whether his defense will cost him at bats.  It's also a nice fit for him as the Devil Rays are second in the league in stolen bases and they are much more apt to use his speed with so few power options in the line-up.  

Bruce Chen
It's amazing to think that at his current pace, Bruce Chen will have appeared with every major league team by the time he's 35.  For one of the most highly touted pitching prospects of the 90s, it would have been hard to imagine changing teams 7 times in the last 3 years.  But now he's in Boston where yet another braintrust will try to unlock the secret of the enigmatic Chen.  

Red Sox pitching coach Tony Cloninger has an impressive resume, including fine tuning the Yankees arms for much of the last decade, so if there's a pitching coach out there who can get Chen to pitch like his talent indicated he was capable, Cloninger is as good a candidate as any to be that guy.  The Red Sox surely could use another quality arm.  The early results have been very encouraging.  Chen, in low pressure relief, has pitched 3.1 innings, allowing 3 hits, but striking out 7 with no walks.  As weak as the non-Pedro Boston rotation has been, Chen has an outside chance to babystep his way into the rotation by June if he continues this well.

Jeremy Giambi

Giambi's sporadic use continues, which is incredibly puzzling since he is hitting .391 in May and slugging .870.  Meanwhile, Shea Hillenbrand, the guy who's taking at bats away from him, is doing the same thing he did last year after a hot April: he's hitting just .227 and slugging .341.  

I have a theory that all managers go with the flow from the start of the season until it becomes obvious that they can't.  Meaning, managers go with players who are hot until it's overwhelmingly evident that some of them aren't cutting it anymore and are stinking so badly that Dr. Scholl's makes a house call.  Whatever that means.  Anyway, this happens at all levels, including fantasy leagues.  No one sees your team's flaws as well as your opponents do, and a team's manager (or roto-owner) is often the last to see them.  I know that despite the denials, the Red Sox would entertain offers to deal Hillenbrand and that may be a factor in the amount of playing time he's getting.  But the time to trade him has passed, when his value was at it's highest.  The Red Sox brought in Giambi and David Ortiz (.321/.406/.464) for their bats this offseason; it's time to let them use them.

Johan Santana
I know I've said this before but it bears repeating: Johan Santana is the Twins' best starter, hands down, no doubt.  Like Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont, it's no contest.  I understand Rod Gardenhire's reluctance to demote one of his starters, especially one of his precious veterans, but the Twins are a much better team with Santana in the rotation.  Joe Mays has struggled all year and there was some concern that his surgically repaired elbow needed babying.  What better place to do that than in the bullpen.  

When Rick Reed needed to miss a start due to back troubles, Santana stepped in to replace him.  It should be noted that the team Reed missed pitching to was the Red Sox, who at the moment have the 2nd most prolific offense in the American League.  Santana held them scoreless through 5 innings, allowing just 4 hits and a walk.  The most impressive part was that he pitched 5 innings with just 76 pitches.  Given a regular turn in the rotation where he can throw up to 110 pitches an outing, that rate puts him at between 7 and 8 innings per start.  Last year, none of the Twins' starters averaged even 6 innings per start.  

And for your updated starting ERAs since the beginning of last year:
Santana - 2.93
Reed - 3.93
Lohse - 3.94
Rogers - 3.97
Milton - 4.84
Radke - 4.99
Mays - 5.52

He's still a full run better than anyone else on that staff.  Eventually, the truth will shine through.