Monday, September 12, 2011

Opening Time: Jesus Montero doesn?t want me for a sunbeam

Jesus is the answer. What's the question? Something about the new Yankees DH.

The Baltimore-New York matinee on Labor Day turned into extended batting practice, with seven homers flying out of Yankee Stadium. Touted prospect Jesus Montero had the biggest piece of the pie, whacking a couple of opposite-field home runs. Here's your scouting video, enjoy the raw power from the 21-year-old.

At one point it was assumed that Montero would slot as a platoon DH for the balance of the year, playing mostly against left-handed starters, but both of the Monday homers came against righties. And heck, if you're going to hit in The Show, you better be able to handle the northpaws. Look for Montero to get an extended chance to be a lineup regular over the final month. He's 5-for-13 to start his career, on the heels of a .288/.348/.467 summer in Triple-A (18 homers in 463 at-bats).

For now, he's one of our favorite fantasy gimmicks ? a catcher who's not really a catcher. The Yankees haven't used him in the field yet. Maybe Montero will have eligibility �issues in next year's game, but we'll worry about that when 2012 hits. Don't you need some pop behind the plate? Montero is available in 85 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

?�Ozzie Guillen is dancing for his life down the stretch and he doesn't have time to coddle a closer. Consider the ninth inning against Minnesota on Monday, Game 1 of a doubleheader, White Sox ahead by two runs. Matt Thornton stepped into the ninth for one batter, Jason Kubel, and did the job (infield line out). Enter Sergio Santos, who was nicked for a walk, single and sacrifice fly. That was enough to get Guillen from the dugout, opting for Chris Sale to get the final out. It wasn't really a matchup issue; instead of having Santos deal with Rene Tosoni (Punch), Sale worked against Jason Repko (Judy).

Santos has been a strong closer for most of the year, converting 28-of-33 chances and piling up 79 strikeouts in 55.4 innings. A 3.23 ERA and 1.06 WHIP will play in the role, and the league is hitting just .169 against him. But Guillen is playing the short-memory game these days, thinking to Santos's ugly blown save from Saturday in Detroit (two homers, three runs), the night Chicago's playoff hopes died. Look for a full-blown bullpen committee for the balance of the season. I'd still take Santos first if given the choice of anyone, but Ozzie isn't calling for my opinion (maybe it's because I've more or less forgotten four years of high school Spanish; lo siento, Se�or Agostino).

The second game was an easier one for the Pale Hose, as Zach Stewart mowed down Minnesota's JV lineup (one-hitter, no walks, nine strikeouts). Danny Valencia's eighth-inning double was the only blemish on the day. Stewart is a respected prospect but this outing came out of nowhere, as he allowed 13 runs in his two prior starts and he's posted a 4.56 ERA over 53.1 innings. You're on your own when he faces Cleveland on the weekend.

?�The Tigers took a big loss when they moved for Jarrod Washburn last summer; he turned into an instant lemon when he hit the Motor City from Seattle. But a similar pennant-push deal between the clubs appears to have worked out for the Tigers this time around, with Doug Fister settling in nicely.

Fister generally is known as a control master, but he's missing more bats this year. Ask the Indians, they know all about it. Fister threw an eight-inning gem at Cleveland on Monday, allowing just two runs over eight innings and piling up 13 punchouts. Fister now has 36 whiffs against just three free passes for his 44.1 Detroit innings, along with a tidy 2.64 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He's only 43 percent owned in Yahoo, but that number should spike significantly before he faces the unimposing Twins on the weekend. Get in on this one.

Speed Round: Brian Wilson (elbow) did some side work in the bullpen Monday and he'll throw again Wednesday. But with the Giants down seven games to Arizona this late in the season, what's the upside of bringing Wilson back? My hunch is that he won't pitch again in 2011. ? The Red Sox and Blue Jays were scoreless into the bottom of the 11th before The Legend of Brett Lawrie decided to end the game. Of course he did. ? Although Jimmy Rollins has reached the end of his DL time, he won't be in uniform Tuesday and the club is calling him day-to-day. ? It's been a mixed bag for Rafael Furcal in St. Louis; he has five homers and 11 walks over 126 at-bats, but a .222 average and .277 OBP doesn't feed the cat. Furcal says he'd love to re-sign with the Cardinals, for what it's worth. ? Mike Stanton has a bad hamstring and it's not clear when he'll be able to play again. The Marlins would probably cancel the final month of the year if they could. ? Grady Sizemore came off the DL and went 0-for-4 out of the leadoff spot. You're welcome to believe in him, or Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny, if you like. Count me out. ? Two more homers for Michael Morse, pushing him to 26 for the year. Remember, kids, Spring Training stats are meaningless except when they're not. I default back to what John Dewan said about Spring Training power spikes; I think there's something to them. ?�Tim Stauffer wasn't terrible on Monday but a four-run, one-strikeout start against the Giants (over six innings) doesn't put you in the circle of trust. We'll re-evaluate him in March. Two more homers for Billy Butler, much approved by adoptive father Brad Evans. ? Josh Beckett left his start due to a sprained ankle (perhaps). The Red Sox also are skipping Erik Bedard for one turn; that sort of maintenance is listed on the Bedard label at purchase. ?�Julio Teheran will pick up a start in Thursday's doubleheader at New York, and then the Braves will re-evaluate their rotation plans. Not a bad streamer right there. ? Philip Humber was terrific in his return to action, posting seven bagels against Minnesota. Enjoy the Silent H against Cleveland on the weekend. ? Aubrey Huff has a sore back and probably won't play Tuesday. Find your 0-for-4 somewhere else. ?�There's rain in the forecast for the Tuesday's LA-Washington game, otherwise known as Strasmas 2011. Don't do this to us, Weather Gods. Can't you wash out a John Lannan start instead?


Images courtesy Associated Press


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