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Justin Morneau having a monster night with a pair of home runs and seven RBIs isn't a huge surprise, as his fantasy owners have been enjoying another MVP-type season from the fellow who was the No. 31 pick in ESPN average live drafts. Holliday, however, was the No. 28 pick, and let's just say his owners have been complaining all season.
Holliday made his owners happy Monday when he hit a pair of home runs and knocked in six and scoring four times himself, in Oakland's wild, historic 14-13 home win over the Twins. It was only the fourth time in history a player on each team hit two home runs and batted in six or more runs in the same game. While Morneau seems one of the more likely choices to contribute to the statistic, as he leads the AL in RBIs and is second in home runs, Holliday has certainly had his struggles this season.
Of course, you look at the former Rockies' outfielder now and he's not so disappointing, as he's on pace for 20 home runs, 95 RBIs, 21 stolen bases and a .284 batting average. Last season in Colorado, he hit .321 with 25/88/28. It's not the same season, but you had to know coming in Holliday wasn't going to be quite as good, didn't you? Wouldn't you call these numbers not quite as good but still plenty useful?
Holliday's name is going to be in the news the rest of this month until he's either traded or officially removed from the market. The Athletics might decide they can do better by keeping the left fielder all season, losing him to free agency in the offseason and recouping the MLB Draft picks in return. Fantasy owners are probably salivating at the thought of Holliday leaving Oakland because he would presumably improve in most other places. Then again, like David Wright with the Mets, don't solely blame the home stadium. Holliday's numbers are worse on the road. A trade might not help Holliday as much as one would think.
Overall, Monday's game in which the Athletics came back from a 10-run deficit to win (the first time the team has done that since 1925) and the Twins lost for the first time ever when one of their players homered twice and knocked in seven was significant for a number of reasons. Holliday's huge game gives frustrated fantasy owners a reason to sell high if they desire. Then again, those same owners could keep him around and enjoy a season that hasn't been nearly as bad as believed.
• Speaking of older right-handers coming off injury problems, John Smoltz's fantasy owners would take an outing like Schmidt delivered. Smoltz looked strong for five innings in Arlington, Texas, before the Rangers exploded for five runs and handed him his third loss in five starts. Smoltz was cruising along nicely, but then allowed home runs to Michael Young, David Murphy and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in a five-run sixth inning. Smoltz's main problem with the Red Sox has been the big inning, and Monday was no different. His ERA rose to 6.31. Smoltz is owned in a quarter of ESPN leagues, but hasn't earned that attention yet.
• Two of fantasy's most highly regarded rookie pitchers pitched well Monday, as Tommy Hanson of the Braves remained unbeaten in eight starts while David Price of the Rays showed positive signs even though his record fell to 3-4. Hanson fanned 11 Giants, more than doubling his season best. He entered Monday with 20 walks and 25 strikeouts, but now that ratio looks a lot better. He's 5-0 and cruising along. Meanwhile, Price made only one major mistake, which Paul Konerko mashed for a three-run home run. Price has walked five or more hitters in half his 10 starts, but in his past two outings he's walked only three hitters, which is a great sign.
• Johnny Vander Meer remains the only pitcher to hurl back-to-back no-hitters, as the Giants' Jonathan Sanchez allowed a Garret Anderson home run in the second inning to ease the tension rather early. Sanchez did pitch well in six innings, striking out eight Braves and walking one. It's worth noting that Sanchez, who had lost his rotation spot until Randy Johnson went on the DL, has issued one walk in his past 18 innings after allowing 46 in his first 68 2/3. He's shown recently that he certainly has the stuff to succeed.
• Rodrigo Lopez might soon lose his rotation spot in Philly to Pedro Martinez, but he's 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA in three starts after beating the Cubs. Lopez still hasn't allowed a home run, and all three starts have been at home.
• Oakland's Gio Gonzalez took one for the team, allowing 11 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. In three home starts this season, he's permitted 27 hits, 18 earned runs and seven walks in, believe it or not, only 11 1/3 innings. The Athletics became the first team since 1954 to win a game when its starting pitcher allowed 11 earned runs. Hard to do, folks.
• New Brewer Felipe Lopez enjoyed his debut, smacking four hits for the second time this season, and doing so in four at-bats. Lopez tripled once and singled three times, and was picked off attempting to steal in the first inning. He also walked. Just the stolen base attempt is a welcome sight; Lopez is batting .309 and scoring runs, but a pace of 11 home runs and 11 steals isn't very exciting. As expected, Casey McGehee assumed his more customary position at third base, while Mat Gamel was sent to the minors Sunday.
• The big news among relief pitchers was Frank Francisco of the Rangers heading to the DL for the third time this season, this time with pneumonia. Francisco is actually eligible to come off the DL this Sunday, so don't panic too much. C.J. Wilson filled in Monday and earned his eighth save in a 6-3 win against the Red Sox. Add Wilson, but realize his term as closer might not last long. Maybe Francisco can make it four DL stints later this season.
• With Andrew Bailey unavailable after throwing 29 pitches Sunday, Michael Wuertz filled in and registered his third save. Even if Wuertz doesn't accrue more saves, his other numbers make him one of the most desirable relief pitchers out there. He's on pace for 105 strikeouts.
Jason Kubel, Twins
While Holliday and Morneau are universally owned, the Twins' outfielder remains available in 36 percent of ESPN leagues. He homered and knocked in four runs in the loss to Oakland, reaching base all six times. Kubel is on pace for 30 home runs and 96 RBIs.
Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies
The tantalizing lefty can pile on the strikeouts, and over the past month he has been steadily lowering his ERA. It's finally under 5 after Monday's outing in which he went seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball against the Diamondbacks. De La Rosa has won four consecutive starts.
New Pirates slugger Garrett Jones hit his eighth home run of the season in the 8-5 win over the Brewers, doing this in his 15th game of this season. The only rookie since 1900 to hit more home runs in fewer games was Carlos Delgado with the Blue Jays in 1994, hitting eight in his first 15 contests. Delgado was 22, and now has 473 home runs. Jones is 28.
• Jason Giambi is a former MVP, but he sure wasn't playing like it. Now he's not playing at all after the Athletics placed the first baseman on the DL with a strained right quad. Daric Barton, a monumental bust last season, was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento, where he was hitting .260 with eight home runs. Giambi was hitting .193 and his 11 home runs weren't making him worth owning. Barton homered Monday, so maybe there's still hope for him.
• Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez isn't having quite the breakout season in Cincinnati many expected, and now he's on the DL with knee surgery scheduled for Tuesday. Hernandez should be out at least a month. Ryan Hanigan, hitting a hollow .327, takes over starting duties, and deserves a look in deep leagues.
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Christopher Harris: I think I'm finally buying. I've been a slow adopter for J.A. Happ because he's carried control issues with him pretty much wherever he's gone in the Phillies organization. And even if you look at his '09 numbers in the bigs: 65 Ks and 33 BBs isn't something you typically like in a fantasy pitcher. But the top-line results have been strong enough for long enough that I'm buying him as a short-term add. He'll jump up to No. 62 in my ranks (Tuesday); I still think he'll go through a rough patch, but there's no sense being stubborn about it.
-- Full chat transcript
Matthew Berry: Sort of. I want to see him do it a few more times - his last start was not great - but yes, I do believe he has skills and will be productive for deeper leagues. Not ready to recommend him for 10 teams yet.
-- Full chat transcript
Monday's fantasy chat schedule:
AJ Mass, 11 a.m. ET
Brendan Roberts, 3 p.m. ET
• While it won't be a surprise when the Indians call up outfielder Matt LaPorta, there's another hitter at Triple-A Columbus putting on a power show. Former third base prospect Andy Marte, now an "old" 25, smacked his 15th homer for the Clippers Monday, knocking in three, and he's batting .320. He's hit four home runs in five days. One would think the Indians would find room not only for LaPorta, who singled, doubled, knocked in two and scored two runs Monday, but Marte as well.
• Not far from ESPN's Bristol offices, in New Britain, Conn., the Portland Sea Dogs put on an offensive show, winning the Eastern League battle over the Rock Cats, 19-1. First baseman Jon Still homered twice and drove in seven runs, while third base prospect Jorge Jimenez delivered three hits, including a home run, knocked in four and scored four. Don't look for the Red Sox or Twins to be calling on anyone from this game anytime soon.
• Will the real Ervin Santana please stand up? Santana came out of the All-Star break and tossed eight strong innings of one-run ball at Oakland, and gets another fortuitous matchup Tuesday in the second game of a doubleheader in Kansas City. Santana won 16 games in 2008, but he's not throwing with the same velocity. Can he beat another struggling offense, though? The Royals are throwing Bruce Chen and Sidney Ponson at the Angels. Get your Angels hitters active.
• In the NL, Chad Gaudin is owned in fewer than 4 percent of ESPN standard leagues, but he's turned into a serious strikeout pitcher with the Padres. Gaudin has 93 strikeouts in 87 1/3 innings, Luckily for fantasy owners, Gaudin faces the whiff-happy Marlins. No team has fanned more than Florida.
For more on Tuesday's games, check out Daily Notes.