Phantasy Philes: Falling Through The Cracks

The theme of this week's Philes can pretty much be summed up in one word; "overlooked." The players we'll cover have either fallen between the cracks in our fantasy baseball reports here, or over at the All-Star team selection headquarters. So, to make up for that lack of recognition, we'll ignore the overexposed Phillies like Thome, Millwood, and Burrell for just this one week. Fear not faithful readers, our examination of the Pat Burrell stink fest will resume soon enough.

One pitcher that can easily get lost in shuffle of bigger names is Brett Myers, who is having a great rookie year. Though he's hit some bumps in the road over the last month or so, Myers was able to rebound nicely with a complete game shutout against the Red Sox, which would be the first win in his current three game winning streak. On pace for 15 wins and 141 strikeouts this season, Brett should finish off the season as a solid part of any fantasy staff, especially if he can keep his ERA in the range of where it is now (3.57), and maybe lower that 1.23 WHIP a little bit. Getting that WHIP down really shouldn't be too hard for Myers, since he is ninth in batting average against in the NL, keeping those walks to a minimum should do the trick. If you're in the market for a good, but not great starter, Myers should be one of the guys you look at acquiring.

Some of those Mike Lieberthal owners out there that have been pleasantly surprised by the great season he is having at the plate may want to clue Dusty Baker in. On a side note, the first person that can tell me what drug Dusty was on when he chose Lo Duca over Lieby for the All-Star team wins a prize. Anyway, if someone had told me that Mike hadn't spent any time on the DL up to this point in the season, I'd be pretty happy. But throw in a .326 batting average and a .388 OBP, and it's all gravy. However, one disappointing aspect of Lieberthal's first half has been his power numbers. With just five homers (on pace for nine on the season), it's hard to believe that this guy hit 31 a few years ago. What caused this drop off in power? Well, it's difficult to say, but maybe those bad knees, and the resulting inability to generate power from his legs, has something to do with it. With that said, it doesn't look like some kind of second half power surge is in the cards for Mikey, so don't get your hopes up. As long as Lieby can stay healthy, he should be able to continue his solid production (for a catcher anyway). Just keep in mind that staying healthy could be very difficult for the Phillies' backstop.

After a solid April, Jimmy Rollins has gotten worse with each month. I'm sure fantasy owners that drafted Jimmy weren't expected a .300 batting average this season, so the mediocre average can't be too much of a disappointment, but the stolen base stats probably are. The one thing that makes Rollins valuable in your standard 10 team fantasy league is the fact that he can get you 30 or more steals. Those 30+ steals looks like a high bar to reach for Jimmy this season though. At nine right now, and on pace for just 17, he has fantasy owners scratching theirs heads as they wonder what the problem is. The answer to that question really is quite simple. First, Larry Bowa is still under the impression that this is the power driven offense, and refuses to play small ball, which would result in more stolen base chances for Mr. Rollins. The other, and more obvious, part of the answer is that J-Roll has had a terrible success rate this season. He's been caught stealing seven times already, and at this rate he'll end up with a new personal worst in that category with 15. The bottom line here is that if Jimmy can't improve in this area in the second half, those of you with Rollins on a team may want to consider other options at shortstop. Should you decide to cut bait with Rollins, a possible replacement could be Angel Berroa out in Kansas City. He'll probably be available in most leagues, so keep an eye on him.

The same explanation goes for Bobby Abreu's lack of base stealing production. He's only be caught five times in 14 attempts, so he isn't quite as bad as Jimmy, but that' still not too good either. The only difference between Bob and Jim is that Abreu can potentially help out in just about every other category, whereas Rollins…can't. Since Abreu's OBP is close to the .400 mark, and should stay in that range for the rest of the year, he's going to continue to be in position to steal some bags. The only question will be if he can complete the act more consistently and often.

Veering away from our theme for a moment, it's important to note that Marlon Byrd has spent the last two games batting leadoff for the Fightin's. If he can make this new gig last a while, it should do nothing but good for his stats. The most noticeable difference will probably come in runs scored, but batting in front of actual hitters, as opposed to the pitcher, he should see a lot more good pitches to hit. Fantasy owners with injured outfielders should watch Byrd's production closely because he could quickly turn into a solid fantasy roster filler.

Finally, we have our non-Phillie of the week. Shigetoshi Hasegawa is no longer just a fun a name to say, but a worthy addition to any team in need of saves. Kaz Sasaki most likely out until August, Hasegawa should get most of the save opportunities from now until then. His miniscule ERA (0.79) and WHIP (0.96) aren't exactly in that fantastic Joe Table range, but they should help out a bit nonetheless. He already has four saves on the year, and has yet to blow an opportunity (imagine that?), though over his career he is just 21 for 46. Even still, he'll get you a good number of saves over the next month or so, which could end up being the difference between winning a title and coming in second.

That'll do it for this week folks. Any questions or comments can be sent to qwaz21@aol.com. Until next time, I'm out like Corey Patterson.


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