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Fantasy owners in NL-only leagues and deeper mixed formats are going to want to take a look at Garko, who was hitting .285 with 11 home runs and 39 RBIs for the Indians, but this move will not have anywhere near the same impact as, say, the Matt Holliday trade. Garko's slugging percentage was among the best on the team, but his OPS was nearly 200 points higher against southpaws, even more pronounced than his career norms. When the Giants have big divisional games against Chad Billingsley and Aaron Cook, Garko might not even be in the lineup. The Indians had used the former catcher mostly at first base, but also in each corner outfield position. It's conceivable the Giants could use Garko in the outfield, and trade for even more offense at a corner infield spot, as Pablo Sandoval can play in either place. Garko is not a good defender, certainly not on par with Ishikawa. Hey, the Giants got better, but this move alone won't solve much.
Garko, 28, hit 21 home runs in 2007, with a .289 batting average, and the following season his power was down to unacceptable levels for a first baseman, though he did knock in 90 runs. The Indians never did give him 500 at-bats in a season, and always seemed to tinker with his playing time. The Giants will surely be helped when they face lefties, though; the only NL team to score fewer runs is the Padres, and the Giants were last in the major leagues in runs scored against left-handed pitching. Garko's career OPS against southpaws is .906, or 134 points higher than it is against right-handed pitching.
The Indians should be moving on and looking at young players, and now they will kind of. Andy Marte was once a top prospect for the Braves and Indians -- and ever-so-briefly in the Red Sox organization -- but hasn't done much during parts of four seasons in the majors, hitting .211. Marte will get another chance to play regularly now, but at first base. It should be noted Marte was hitting .327 with 18 home runs in the International League, numbers better than anything he had done in the minors before, as he had shortened his lengthy swing and was making better contact. This might be the break he needed. Now fantasy owners will wait to see when Matt LaPorta gets the break he needs.
• Butler had two of those hits off Orioles left-hander Rich Hill, who continued to struggle and might have run out of time to keep his rotation spot. Hill lasted 2 1/3 innings against the Royals, and in his past three starts has totaled 5 2/3 innings, allowing nine hits, eight walks and 10 earned runs. The Orioles are expected to announce top pitching prospect Chris Tillman will start Wednesday, so it's likely Hill or Jason Berken will leave the rotation. Tillman has a 2.70 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk, with 99 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings. Down at Double-A, Brian Matusz raised his record to 7-0 with seven shutout innings.
• The newcomers to the Cardinals' offense were at it again, as Julio Lugo, Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday, batting in the first four spots in the order, each knocked in runs in a 6-1 win against the Dodgers. DeRosa hit his fifth home run in seven games, all of them solo shots. So much for having a sore wrist. Lugo is hitting .474 since joining the Cardinals and is easily the most available in fantasy leagues, and Holliday has a .571 batting average.
• Colorado's middle infield continues to be one of the more underrated and productive ones in the majors. Troy Tulowitzki is owned in 96 percent of ESPN leagues, and his home run against the Mets gave him three in a week, 19 for the season and he's on pace for 32. Clint Barmes also homered, giving him 13 on the season. Both gentlemen are also stealing bases and scoring runs. Unlike Tulowitzki, Barmes is available in more than half of ESPN's leagues.
• Speaking of teammates hitting home runs, for the second consecutive day the White Sox received them from Paul Konerko and Gordon Beckham. While Konerko has reached 20 home runs for the 10th time in 11 seasons, and is owned in most leagues, the multi-eligible Beckham (SS, 3B) has raised his batting average to .295, and has knocked in runs in four of the past five games.
• It was a night of interesting home runs around the majors, as Alfonso Soriano salvaged a hitless night with a walk-off grand slam, and Johnny Damon hit his 200th career home run. Also, Nick Swisher homered from each side of the plate, the Angels' Juan Rivera, Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli went back-to-back-to-back and the Mets' Fernando Tatis swatted a pinch-hit grand slam.
• Closer follies: Brian Fuentes hadn't allowed a run since May, but nearly two months of strong pitching didn't help Monday as Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta homered. Fuentes allowed four runs, and didn't get an out. Two days after throwing 37 pitches in a two-inning save, the Royals' Joakim Soria saved his 16th game. C.J. Wilson struck out the side for his 11th save, bringing him to within four of incumbent closer Frank Francisco, who needs a few more days on the DL with pneumonia. It wasn't a save chance for Brad Lidge, but he did retire the Diamondbacks in order. Baby steps. Scott Downs got a vote of confidence after blowing a few saves, then pitched the eighth inning in an 11-4 win. Don't read into the inning. He remains the closer. So does Mariano Rivera, even though David Robertson picked up a save against the Rays.
Josh Willingham, Nationals
The Washington outfielder had a career night with two home runs and eight RBIs, becoming the 13th player ever to hit two grand slams in one game. Maybe this will get him noticed. Willingham now has 16 home runs and is hitting .298, yet he's owned in fewer than 8 percent of ESPN leagues.
Tim Lincecum, Giants
A familiar name in this spot, Lincecum fanned 15 Pirates without allowing an earned run, just the fourth pitcher since 2001 to accomplish the feat (Erik Bedard, Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson). Lincecum lowered his ERA to 2.30, and he leads the NL in strikeouts by 33.
Padres right-hander Josh Geer just can't avoid the long ball. He's allowed 27 home runs in only 102 2/3 innings, a rate of 2.36 per game, which is the highest for anyone this season, and could set a new record. Andy Benes of the 2001 Cardinals allowed 2.52 home runs per game, and the ML mark is Ken Dixon (2.66 in 1987). By the way, Geer won't help your fantasy team.
• The Reds also disabled starting pitcher Micah Owings, who left Sunday's game after only three innings with right shoulder tightness. Owings hasn't been a very good pitcher this season; he leads the NL in losses and has a 5.35 ERA and 1.64 WHIP. The Reds are falling out of contention anyway, but replacing Owings on the mound shouldn't be too difficult. Replacing him as a pinch hitter might be. The Reds called up Robert Manuel, but the team hasn't announced who will start Friday's game against the Rockies. Matt Maloney was probably next in line, but he got strafed for 11 hits and eight runs in four innings Monday.
• The Brewers demoted Mike Burns to Triple-A Nashville after he delivered a 2-3 record and 7.20 ERA in five starts. It would be hard to believe if the Brewers don't bring in reinforcements through trade this week. Lefty reliever R.J. Swindle was called up, and Carlos Villanueva will start Tuesday's game against the Nationals. Villanueva has ugly numbers, after starting the year as the fill-in closer: His June ERA was 7.94, and so far in July he's allowed 10 runs in 8 1/3 innings.
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Christopher Harris: I just talked about Tillman on the Fantasy Focus podcast this morning -- I've seen him pitch in person at Pawtucket and he really is a pretty hard thrower. I think he's an AL-only add for sure, and I give him a good chance of sticking with the rotation, though I'm having a hard time understanding why the O's are considering a six-man arrangement. Is Tillman a mixed-league guy? Mm, I think he's kind of a strikeouts Hail Mary in mixed leagues. If you're desperate. He's a kid, and kids usually struggle some.
-- Full chat transcript
Matthew Berry: Montero has been ridiculous lately: 5 HR/15 RBI in last 12 games. Hitting .378 in July. No problem dropping Wieters for Montero in a 10-team non-keeper. Suzuki has also played well recently.
-- Full chat transcript
Tuesday's fantasy chat schedule:
AJ Mass, 11 a.m. ET
Brendan Roberts, 3 p.m. ET
• In the higher tiers of the minor leagues, Triple-A Memphis beat New Orleans 12-9 and hit five home runs in the process. Tyler Greene and Allen Craig homered, as well as rehabbing Khalil Greene, who played third base and had four hits. First baseman Mark Hamilton hit a pair of home runs among his four hits, and is hitting .407 in 12 games since being promoted from the Texas League.
• The Indians played Victor Martinez at first base and Kelly Shoppach behind the plate Monday, but by 2010 they could turn to prospect Carlos Santana at catcher. Santana has homered in four consecutive games for Double-A Akron, giving him 19 on the season, and he has more walks than strikeouts. He looks just about ready.
• NL East playoff hopefuls Atlanta and Florida meet, with two hot pitchers on the mound. Jair Jurrjens has won four of five, and nobody in baseball has more outings of two earned runs or less. Ricky Nolasco has won five of his past six decisions, and his last time he out he struck out 10 Padres.
• And finally, Mark Buehrle goes for history yet again, coming off his perfect game last week against the Rays. Buehrle's only bad outing this month came against the team he faces Tuesday, the Twins. On July 12, Buehrle allowed eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. That's his only loss since June 4.
• For more on Tuesday's games, check out the MLB Daily Notes.