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The old Shea Stadium was a pitcher's park, and an extreme one at that, and fantasy owners certainly knew what to expect so they could react accordingly. Most indications about the new Citi Field, which was officially christened Monday with San Diego taking a 6-5 decision against the Mets, were that it was another pitcher's park. Hey, I still think it is, despite first batter Jody Gerut lining the third pitch out of the park, and later on Adrian Gonzalez and David Wright following suit, and those blasts weren't a harbinger of something else.
Before fantasy owners get too excited about the potential for offense, realize raw Walter Silva and struggling Mike Pelfrey were the starting pitchers, and most nights the Mets -- and opponents -- will pitch better. This isn't likely to end up being an East coast version of Coors Field. The fences at Citi Field -- a beautiful stadium, by the way -- are higher than those of Shea, making it more likely home runs will be depressed, though I think we'll see a few inside-the-parkers from the likes of Jose Reyes because of the spaciousness of the gaps and potential for odd bounces from the walls. This is meant to be an old-school stadium, and 10-8 games generally weren't the norm in those places.
The Mets starting with a loss in their new home isn't such a big deal, but how about those 6-2 Padres? They were supposed to be one of the worst teams in baseball, and still could be. Offensively, the Padres still don't look like much, with Adrian Gonzalez the team's lone player worth owning in every fantasy league. The Padres are hitting .238, with Gonzalez providing a quarter of the home runs and a fifth of the RBIs. Gerut is serviceable, and only Scott Hairston has stolen a base. San Diego does have more fantasy options on the mound, namely with Jake Peavy -- but for how long, Cubs fans? -- and closer Heath Bell, who is tied for the major league lead in saves with the Royals' Joakim Soria at four.
The Padres' fine start should be a reminder to fantasy owners that a week of games is hardly enough time to properly evaluate performance. This isn't a very good team, just one off to a good start that scored more runs than the Mets on one night. Be careful not to invest in too many Padres, and stick with the Mets. It appears each of their home ballparks will stifle home runs and overall scoring, but the comparisons really end there.
• With heavy hearts after the death of longtime announcer Harry Kalas, the Phillies outlasted the Nationals, 9-8, with six players in the game providing home runs. Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez homered for the Phillies, while Washington's Elijah Dukes, Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman went yard for the home team, now 0-7. Dukes is the only one mentioned here who stands to lose playing time unless he hits; Austin Kearns did not start. Lastings Milledge managed a single in five at-bats. If he wants to play regularly, he'd better start hitting as well.
• The middle of the White Sox batting order came alive against the Tigers, as Carlos Quentin swatted a pair of home runs and knocked in four runs while Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko hit back-to-back home runs in the second inning, for each the 300th of their career. Quentin and Dye are universally owned, but watch Konerko, who has barely hit .250 since 2006 ended. He's not too old to return to his reliable power-hitting days.
(Watch highlights from the Tigers-White Sox game. )
• Oft-overlooked Cubs lefty Ted Lilly took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Rockies, allowing a Garrett Atkins single and then leaving the rest to his bullpen, which finished the one-hitter and his second win of the season. Nobody ever seems to covet Lilly on draft day, despite 47 victories and an average of 173 strikeouts the past three seasons, and he's actually getting better each season.
• Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson hit for the cycle, the first time this happened in team history since 1970. Hudson is off to a terrific start this season, with two home runs, three stolen bases, seven runs scored and a .333 batting average, and you can expect to see his name on ESPN's most-added list soon, as he began Monday available in about half of ESPN's standard leagues. Hudson might be on his way to a career season.
• The Rays welcomed center fielder B.J. Upton back to the lineup, and he got things going early by taking a walk, stealing a pair of bases and scoring runs in each of the first two innings in Tampa Bay's 15-5 rout of the Yankees. Carlos Pena didn't have a bad game either, homering, doubling twice and knocking in six runs. The Yankees have received inconsistent starting pitching in their 3-4 start, but not from Chien-Ming Wang; he's just been awful both starts, allowing seven runs to the Orioles and eight to the Rays, in a total of 4 2/3 innings. That's a 28.93 ERA, if you're scoring at home. First baseman Nick Swisher, making a play for regular playing time in the outfield when Mark Teixeira returns from left wrist inflammation, was New York's best pitcher, tossing a scoreless eighth inning. The last position player to homer and record a pitching strikeout in the same game was Keith Osik in 2000.
• The Cubs might not have beaten the Brewers Sunday night had Milton Bradley stayed healthy, as replacement Reed Johnson took a grand slam away from Prince Fielder. Bradley left the game with a sore groin, and is expected to miss three to five days. Johnson appears the main beneficiary for those in daily formats, but Micah Hoffpauir could get a start or two as well. Also, note that Kosuke Fukudome batted third Monday, knocking in his fifth run and drawing three walks. He's hitting .417, and appears an everyday fantasy option.
• Future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine left his Sunday rehab start at Double-A Mississippi with a sore shoulder, which in itself didn't create a fantasy stir. He's slated to meet Dr. James Andrews this week, which could signal the end of his career. What fantasy owners needed to know was whether it would hasten the Tommy Hanson era. Early indications are it won't, but we'll see Year 3 of the Jo-Jo Reyes era. Woo-hoo!
• Closer follies: Gotta hand it to Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who made his firm decision to go with Jason Motte to close after a very strong spring, and abandoned the idea after Opening Day. Ryan Franklin saved Monday's game, giving the team three pitchers with saves, none of them named Motte. I'd bet Franklin gets more saves for this team during the next month. In Chicago, Kevin Gregg preserved the shutout with a scoreless ninth inning, striking out the side, though a Cubs run in the eighth inning made it a non-save situation. Brad Lidge of the Phillies still hasn't blown a save since 1973 -- OK, in 47 consecutive chances -- but he has allowed a pair of home runs already, matching his 2008 total. Finally, B.J. Ryan saved a game, allowing two singles but nothing else.
Travis Snider, Blue Jays
The rookie is still batting ninth, but not for much longer if he continues to hit like this. Snider popped two home runs, knocked in three runs and even stole a base in the 8-6 Toronto win in Minnesota. Snider doesn't look a bit overmatched; he's slugging .895, with five of his six hits this season for extra bases.
Zach Duke, Pirates
Precious few fantasy owners enjoyed what Zach Duke provided Monday, but his complete game shutout win against the Astros gave him a 2-0 record and 0.59 ERA after two starts. Duke allowed four hits and two walks for his third career shutout. Owned in 5.6 percent of ESPN standard leagues, he might be a nice option this weekend against the Braves, against whom his career ERA is 2.76.
1.97: Still on the fence about whether Zack Greinke is worth holding onto, or acquiring? Since last August 1, no pitcher in the AL has an ERA as low as Greinke, at 1.97. No pitcher is close! Second is Toronto's Roy Halladay at 2.82. Greinke hasn't allowed a run this season, and leads the AL in strikeouts with 16. I have no questions about him.
• Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie wasn't off to a very good start at the plate, with one hit in 18 at-bats and eight strikeouts. It's possible the sprained left wrist that landed him on the DL Monday was the culprit. With Julio Lugo nowhere close to returning from knee surgery, Gil Velazquez comes from Triple-A Pawtucket to help out Nick Green. Neither of these guys have fantasy relevance, and it's possible the Red Sox will look outside the organization for help.
• The Indians placed lefty Scott Lewis on the DL during the weekend, and called up reliever Vinnie Chulk but didn't announce the rotation replacement. Now it appears another lefty, Aaron Laffey, will get the start on Wednesday against the Royals. Laffey doesn't strike anyone out. Look elsewhere.
• White Sox center fielder Dewayne Wise, in a non-productive platoon with Brian Anderson, left Monday's game with a separated shoulder, and will miss 4-6 weeks, prompting a call-up for Jerry Owens, who originally blew his chance with a horrid spring training. He's back! Owens can't hit, so there will be speculation Chicago is looking to trade for center field help. I'd just play Alexei Ramirez there and let Gordon Beckham play shortstop, but I'm not the manager. Anderson replaced Wise and promptly stole two bases, and manager Ozzie Guillen could give him a shot for everyday duty, but we've seen this act before.
• On the same day Orlando Hudson hit for the cycle, the fellow who lost his starting role upon Hudson's signing was sent to the minors. Blake DeWitt heads to Triple-A Albuquerque to get regular playing time, after getting only six at-bats the first week. DeWitt might have a fantasy future someday if opportunity arises, but it might not be in Los Angeles.
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Christopher Harris: Yeah, I know Matthew Berry likes Purcey as a sleeper, but I'm not buying it. I don't see him as a big strikeout guy, honestly (6 or 7 per 9), I don't see him getting many more than 150 innings, and I think eventually his WHIP will be a killer, like above 1.40. I think there are way better investments out there.
-- Full chat transcript
Matthew Berry: I'm a bit concerned, yeah. A little mojo finding, sure ... but also you have to wonder if he is 100 percent with the workload from last year. Hold tight if you have him, but yes, I'm a little nervous.
-- Full chat transcript
Tuesday's fantasy chat schedule:
AJ Mass, 11 a.m.
Stephania Bell, 3 p.m.
• The Orioles certainly need starting pitching help, if the presence of Adam Eaton in the rotation wasn't proof enough. Chris Tillman, the best prospect from the Erik Bedard haul from Seattle, breezed through Double-A a season ago, then tossed four hitless innings in his Triple-A Norfolk debut Monday. Tillman pitching to Matt Wieters is probably better right now than anything the Orioles have.
• Jeff Samardzija's second outing at Triple-A Iowa went well, as he allowed only two singles in four scoreless innings. Samardzija is being groomed to start, and could be next in line if/when Rich Harden has an issue. Albuquerque beat Iowa, 3-1, with the Isotopes' Jeff Weaver tossing three hitless innings in relief. It shouldn't be long before he's with the Dodgers as well, though he'll have different fantasy value than Samardzija.
• Brewers shortstop prospect Alcides Escobar is off to a good start at Triple-A Nashville, hitting .333, stealing two of his three bases this season Monday against Oklahoma City. Escobar is being blocked in the majors by J.J. Hardy, but the team could move Hardy to third base.
• Many eyes will be on the Cardinals-Diamondbacks game as Max Scherzer makes his season debut for Arizona. Scherzer walked four in his rehab start, as he recovers from a sore shoulder. Opponent Chris Carpenter is also very important for fantasy owners after his one-hit outing last week.
• Start No. 2 for 20-year-old Detroit phenom Rick Porcello comes at home against John Danks and the White Sox. Porcello's first outing wasn't quite as bad as the final line; he allowed two runs in the first five innings, then didn't get anyone out in the sixth.
• Play your Royals on Tuesday, as Carl Pavano is the opposing pitcher. He can't be as bad as he was the first outing, when he allowed nine earned runs and registered only three outs, can he? Well, play all your Royals and find out.
• Check out Daily Notes for more information on Tuesday's games.