Fantasy Spotlight

This week in the Spotlight, we'll take a look at two categories that many fantasy owners have a difficult time with, saves and steals. We'll also shine our light on a handful of guys who just might give your squad a boost in these categories and more.

I don't know what it is, but saves and steals seem to be two categories that always give fantasy owners trouble. On more than one occasion I've come out of a draft only to say to myself, "hey, did I get any guys with speed?" Or, "wait a second, how many closers do I have?" Since there are only a select few players that can really contribute significantly in either of these two categories, there's usually a lot of competition for these guys amongst the owners of a given league. Luckily, every year, a few speed demons, and a few closers emerge from the waiver wire herd to make some thankful fantasy owners very happy. Here's a group that could fit the bill.

Anaheim Angels

Besides having one of the coolest names in the history of the world, Chone Figgins has emerged as a short-term boost for those in need of speed. Thanks to an injury to Garret Anderson, Chone, who could also have eligibility at second and short depending on where you play, is looking at a solid amount of starts in center field over the coming weeks. Not only is he getting the increased PT, but he's also hitting third, something that doesn't happen often for an injury replacement. The bottom line with Figgins is that he can flat out burn. With seven steals already this season (and yet to be caught), anyone looking for a few extra steals should give Chone a look. Just don't expect anything in the power department; he has zero homers in 279 at bats, so I doubt a 30 home run season is in his near future.

Cleveland Indians

Though I'm sure everyone else who has written about David Riske recently mentions the fact that his name is an apt description of his performance on the field, it's physically impossible for me to resist doing the same. It's difficult to say that Riske will continue to hold onto the closer's job much longer at this rate, being as there are a large number of batting practice pitchers who have lower ERAs than the Indians' "stopper." Unfortunately for the Tribe, the replacement options aren't exactly looking great either. Betancourt seems to be the most talked about plan B, but even he has had his struggles recently. Bob Wickman is out until at least mid to late July, but if things continue the way they are, he could end up getting his old job back right out of the gate. For now, Riske will most likely keep the job simply because there isn't an attractive second option out there, but if this risky business (that's right, a name pun and a movie reference all in one) continues, Betancourt might get his day in the sun just for the sake of change.

Toronto Blue Jays

Speaking of closer troubles, they must get worse as you head north of the boarder because Toronto is having a heck of a time finding someone who can notch a save. The last two guys to disappoint were Speier and Ligtenberg, which means it's time to delve into middle relievers. Apparently the next to get the nomination is former Phillies reliever Terry Adams who will get a crack at being the Jays' primary closer now. Adams has had some experience at closer throughout his career, but it's never turned out well (39 saves, and 26 blown chances). Adams deserves to be added simply because he's going to get those valuable save opportunities, but based on his career stats, don't be surprised if Eddie Belfour is out there in the ninth a few weeks from now.

Sticking with Toronto, the next player under the spotlight isn't someone I would rush out to grab, but he should be watched carefully if you're in need of a shortstop. Chris Woodward disappointed many last season after showing some promise in '02, but the 27 year old has shown some signs of life once again in the first month of this year. Hitting .315 in the early going, Chris is a middle infielder with some pop, and might be worth looking into if you bet on Jimmy Rollins having a comeback season.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Every year for the past few seasons Steve Finley gets drafted in a bunch of leagues, then dropped a couple weeks into the season. It's like clockwork, and this season is no different. After doing almost nothing the first few weeks, Finley is starting to emerge from his slump and begin is assent to yet another solid season. Steve is traditionally a slow starter, and someone who improves steadily as the season wears on, so if he's available on the waiver wire in your league, grab him now. Finley is pretty much a lock to add 20 or more homers and double digit steals to your totals by season's end.

That'll do it for this week. Remember, if you have any questions or comments on fantasy baseball trades, signings, or anything else, feel free to send an email to qwaz21@aol.com with "Fantasy Spotlight" in the subject line. Until next time, I'm out like Derek Jeter's batting average.

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