Needs outweigh wants. Always have, always will.
If you couldn’t already tell, my blog title,”Round Robinson”, is a play on the phrase “round robin”. Unlike most of our other writers who specialize in one sport (and do a remarkable job of it), I have the freedom to go around to multiple sports to provide analysis and opinion. In addition to being a baseball and football writer here at Major League Fantasy Sports, I’m also pretty much the biggest basketball fan you’re going to find. And without a doubt my favorite player is… LeBron James (how many of you just rolled your eyes).
I got to see LeBron play for Cleveland, but have yet to see him in person since he joined the Heat. The NBA Finals matchup with the Spurs means that I’m less than a five-hour drive away from potentially seeing him on the biggest stage in the sport and, considering my knack for long road trips, that’s barely more than a hop, skip and jump. There’s not a better place I could imagine seeing James in a Miami uniform for the first time than potentially snagging his third consecutive NBA title. There’s also not a more expensive one.
Look on any of the secondhand sites and you won’t find a ticket for less than $300 anywhere. And as readers of a previous article of mine know, I’m not exactly rollin’ in cash. With bills, rent, and an outstanding college loan that looks more like I’m paying off a Benz, spending that kind of scratch on something other than a necessity is hard to justify. This time of month I’ve got an electric bill coming down the pike and the temperature is starting to routinely hit the mid-90s here in the Dallas metroplex. So as much fun as it would be to go see Miami beat San Antonio, air conditioning trumps the Heat every time.
Your team might be experiencing the same conundrum. While it might be fun to stash that above-average prospect who could get the call up soon or hold on to that reliever you know is next in line for saves, you have more pressing and urgent needs right now. A quick check of your offensive stats as June cranks up might reveal a glaring hole in one of your counting categories that needs to be addressed. We’re entering the second trimester of the season, folks. The time to sit back and be patient is coming to an end.
Each of the guys listed below can provide you a boost in a particular stat and comes at a reasonable cost to acquire (in most cases, no cost at all). But be forewarned, some of these names aren’t pretty. No one in your league is going to anoint you a genius for adding these guys, but the difference they make in that one category could be the difference between being in the championship and merely watching it from home (albeit a nice, climate controlled home). Let’s dive…
1) Craig Gentry, OAK – Gentry has posted some very serviceable numbers as Oakland’s fourth OF in 2014. He’s spelled both Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick, amassing 115 PA in 42 games played after missing the first 10 games of the season himself. In that time, Gentry has managed to swipe nine bags without being caught and tacked on a tidy 21 runs to boot. But I buried the lead on this one. This past Tuesday, Oakland placed Reddick on the 15-day DL with a hyper-extended right knee, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle isn’t sure he will return when he’s eligible on June 16. This opens the door for Gentry to get regular starts in right field for the foreseeable future. If you look at Reddick’s dreadful performance at the plate (.214/.279/.339 in 168 AB) and think this is a chance for Gentry to usurp the starting job, hold your horses. Reddick’s spectacular glove will keep him penciled into Oakland’s lineup when he returns, but a good showing these next few weeks for Gentry could earn him more ABs throughout the remainder of the season.
2) Jarrod Dyson, KC – Commonly called upon by the Royals as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement late in games, Dyson has managed to swipe 10 bases in 13 attempts this season despite only 79 PA. Most of his time at the plate came while Lorenzo Cain was on the DL in late April, but surprisingly that’s not when he recorded the bulk of his steals. Half of his 2014 total have come since May 20. And for those of you not familiar with Dyson, this isn’t a fluke. He’s recorded 30 or more steals in each of the last two seasons despite never eclipsing 300 AB. Dyson has been more effective at the plate (.275 BA, .333 OBP) than in years past and could push Norichika Aoki for playing time should Aoki continue to disappoint. Dyson has proven, however, that he doesn’t need the starts to put up the numbers.
1) Denard Span, WAS – Without question, Span is going to be the most attractive name you’re going to find in this week’s article. He also might take a little bit of effort to acquire in deeper leagues, but he’s worth it if you’re scrounging to make up ground in runs. Span currently sits 14th in the NL in runs scored this year (34) and his triple slash numbers are almost identical to his career averages, so this is right in line with what he should be doing. Span has just 13 RBI this season, and although that does put a ceiling on his overall value, it provides you an entry point for a 90+ R guy and potentially a 30-SB candidate. The Nationals just strengthened their lineup with the return of Ryan Zimmerman and, at some point, will get Bryce Harper back as well. But there is a major caveat to the pro-Span argument revolving around those two names that has to be acknowledged.
Until Harper returns, Washington’s lineup is pretty much set most days. But when Bryce does get back on the diamond, where do the Nationals play Zimmerman? There’s three choices that we know of: first base, third base, or remaining in left field. The fantasy community would prefer to see Zim head back to 3B, slide Rendon back to 2B, and get the woeful Danny Espinosa off the field. But Zimmerman’s lingering shoulder issues might render that option obsolete. It’s a possibility that he stays in left, Harper moves back to CF, and Span is the odd man out. A lot of things can and will happen before that, but you do have to prepare yourself for that outcome. We’re savvy owners here though, so let’s put a positive spin on this. If Span is owned in your league, why not pitch that exact scenario to his owner to plant a seed of doubt and get yourself a discount? As a betting man, I’d say he’s worth the risk.
Derek Dietrich, FLA Adam Lind, TOR – Ok, so maybe I lied a little on Span being the best name you’d find here, but I blame Miami’s front office for that. I was all set to rave about Dietrich, a guy I’ve liked more and more since my Marlins roundup a few weeks back, and then… demoted. The dreaded “defensive purposes” strikes again. And boy was I high on him. A middle infielder on pace for 80 runs in less than 400 AB? Pure gold for an article like this. Perhaps all is not lost though. Keep an eye on Dietrich and see if the Marlins decide to call him back up sooner rather than later. If they make the move, so should you.
But since we’re talking about the here and now, let’s go north of the border. When the Blue Jays activated Adam Lind from the DL on May 8, their record was 17-17. Since then, they’ve rattled off 19 wins in 26 games and have a 4.5 game lead in the AL East. While Encarnacion, Bautista and Buehrle have gotten the headlines, Lind has held his own in the middle of that lineup. In only 106 AB, Lind has already crossed the plate 24 times (.420 OBP + hitting in front of E5 = lots of trotting and high-fives). But I still think people have a sour taste in their mouths when it comes to Lind. It’s been five years since his .305-35-114 campaign and he’s burned plenty of trusting owners since. The time to come back around on him is now as this offense will continue to be downright wicked. Lind is owned in 80% of ESPN leagues but somehow just 39% in the Y! game. If he’s still out there in your league, scoop him up now before those figures climb even higher.
1) Mike Olt, CHC – The best news for Olt is that the Cubs stink. There’s a shocker. The longer the Cubs aren’t sniffing contention in the NL Central, the longer we’ll have to wait to see prized prospects Javier Baez and Kris Bryant making their way to the big team, either of which would potentially cut into Olt’s playing time. Two other factors keeping Olt safe are his solid defensive work at 3B as well as his nine HR. Nine HR… out of 21 hits… in 133 AB, which makes for an odd-looking .158/.243/.383 triple slash. You really are getting HR and not much else here (the 24 RBI aren’t bad either I guess). But if you’re absolutely desperate for power and there’s 25-HR potential laying on the scrap-heap, I don’t think there’s much to complain about.
2) Brandon Hicks, SF – Since Dietrich’s demotion left me without a middle infielder, we go to the bay area to find some more potential pop. The 2B job in San Fran was supposed to be Marco Scutaro’s, but a back injury left the position in limbo. Enter Brandon Hicks, who impressed enough in spring training to lock down the job. He’s hitting just .179 on the season, but similar to Olt, the glove and the power will keep him in the lineup. His eight HR put him in the top-10 when it comes to middle-infield eligibles, and manager Bruce Bochy keeps encouraging Hicks to swing for the fences. If by chance you think this power display is fleeting, his minor league pedigree suggests otherwise. Hicks had three different seasons in the minors where he registered 18+ HR, and in each one of them he did it in less than 400 AB.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @sharpshot3ball for a wide range of sports opinions and the occasional swoon over Anna Kendrick. LET’S GO HEAT!