Fantasy Baseball Championships Run Through Denver and Chicago

Grant Correspondent IAugust 23, 2009

DENVER - JULY 09:  Carlos Gonzalez #5 of the Colorado Rockies takes an at bat against the Atlanta Braves during MLB action at Coors Field on July 9, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Braves 7-6.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

On Friday night I was supposed to see the 1970's rock band Styx at a county fair.  Not a state fair, but a middle of nowhere Podunk county fair.

Unfortunately everyone slated to join me bailed at the last minute, mainly due to a lack of proper planning. Some forgot to request off from work while others merely spaced on the date.

I know that you, the dear reader, are asking yourself, "Seriously, guy? Styx?"

Or more importantly, "How does this have anything to do with fantasy baseball?"

Glad you asked.

First of all, rocking out at a show that I am guaranteed to be twenty to thirty years younger than the average spectator sounded like a great time. I once saw the Blue Oyster Cult at a small town festival and it was a blast.

Secondly, like the bad planning which prevented my friends from attending the show, a lack of foresight will cost you a fantasy baseball championship. Other owners are now distracted by the looming football season, so it is time to make one final push up the standings. 

Most likely your trading deadline is passed. Therefore the waiver wire is the only place to address the gaps in your lineup. A simple look ahead to September reveals players on the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs are the best bet for success.

The Colorado Rockies

Matchups: NYM (3)  ARI (6)  CIN (3)  SD (6)  SF (3)  STL (3)  MIL (2)

At the All-Star break the Los Angeles Dodgers seemed to have an insurmountable lead in the NL West. However, as of Friday afternoon, the Rockies had chipped away that lead to only 3.5 games.

Colorado is currently one of the hottest teams in baseball winning four in a row and seven of their last ten.

Over the course of the final month of the season the Rockies play 27 games. Only nine of those contests will be played away from Coors Field. Colorado is an excellent 32-23 when taking the field in Denver.

An even more salivating statistic is a mere six of the 27 said games will be against an above .500 opponent. The Mets, D-backs, Reds, Padres, and Brewers all travel to the Mile High City to be preyed upon by the Rockies.

What Colorado players, then, are waiting to be fished out of your free agent pool?

Jorge De La Rosa  SP

It is hard to imagine a starting pitcher who has won eleven games so far and has compiled 140 strikeouts in 135.2 innings could go unnoticed.

Yet Jorge De La Rosa remains rostered by less than half of Yahoo teams and only one quarter of those on ESPN (Four out of five CBS participants, on the other hand, own the young southpaw).

I, Marc Summers, Double Dare you to name another pitcher other than De La Rosa who has won nine of his last ten decisions.

Eric Young, Jr.  2B

A .298 batting average, 55 stolen bases, and 110 runs through 113 Triple A games. A must have September call-up. Enough said.

Rafael Betancourt  RP 

For owners in muy, muy deep leagues or ones which holds count, Betancourt is your guy.

Since joining the Rockies in late July, Rafael has yet to allow a run, both earned or unearned. That's twelve consecutive apperances the opposing team has not crossed homeplate when he takes the mound.

Betancourt is presently an eighth inning specialist, but is the prime candidate to replace closer Huston Street if he falters or suffers an injury.

Carlos Gonzalez  OF

In the overcrowded situation that is known as the Colorado outfield, Carlos Gonzalez has cemented some regular playing time with his rock solid efforts as of late.

During the month of August Gonzalez has raised his batting average 47 points from .241 to .288. In the same time span he has also clubbed six of his eight 2009 homers while batting in 13 runs.

Gonzalez has 10 more games before September to further pad his excellent August stats. At this rate, Carlos is the perfect pickup to bolster any fantasy outfield.

The Chicago Cubs

Matchups: HOU (2)  CWS (1)  NYM (3)  PIT (6)  CIN (3)  MIL (7)  STL (3)  SF (4)

As the Rockies are waxing, the Cubbies appear to be waning.

The century old mantra of "Wait 'till next year" again is gaining steam in bars throughout Chicago's Northside.

By no means, though, is the season of the Cubs over or, for that matter, the fact fantasy gold can still be panned from the easy stream that is Chicago's remaining schedule.

In September the Cubs have 28 games on the docket. Slightly over half of these games will be played in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field where the Cubs are a remarkable 35-22.

Apart from trips to St. Louis and San Francisco, the rest of Chicago's road matchups are against the detritus of the National League.

On paper, the calendar is in favor of the Cubs. However, as of Friday afternoon, they are seven games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central and six games below the previously discussed Rockies in the Wild Card race.

The seemingly early hibernating albeit not yet asleep Cubs offer many widely available fantasy options to those in need.

Jeff Baker  1B/2B/3B

Taking over second base duties from an ineffective Mike Fontenot, Baker has been the hottest thing to hit Chicago since the Windy City's namesake band released their classic 25 or 6 to 4 (another 70's rock reference).

From August 9th until now Baker is in the midst of a 10 game hitting streak and batting a robust .450. As a result his average has skyrocketed 90 points from .197 to .287.

Readers of my previous ramblings know I have a soft spot for multi-position eligible players.  Owners with alike affections will be thrilled to find Baker qualifies at first, second, and third base.

Recent reports by the Chicago Tribune reveal Baker will get the bulk of starts at second for the rest of the year.

Jake Fox  3B/OF

When given the chance, this kid can rake. Fox is batting a crafty .290 through 190 sporadic at bats.

Because he is a bit of a defensive liability, Fox is currently relegated to spot starts and pinch hit duty.

However, Jake filled in admirably for Aramis Ramirez at third when he was on the DL and was even named backup catcher while Geovany Soto went down with a strained oblique.

Expect Fox to receive more playing time if the Northsiders continue their trend south.

Angel Guzman  RP

Yes, Guzman allowed a grand slam last Thursday to season long slumping Russell Martin.

Yes, Kevin Gregg was recently stripped of his game ending status and Carlos Marmol, not Guzman, was handed the closer reins.

Yet anyone who has seen Marmol pitch knows he has the arsenal to strike everyone out, but is just as likely to walk home the winning run. Because the Cubbies are clutching for their postseason lives, expect skipper Lou Pinella's leash on Marmol to be short.

In 2009, Guzman has posted an exceptional 42:18 K/BB ratio and has prevented 81.6% of baserunners from scoring. Therefore Angel is a speculative add if the wild side of Marmol begins to prevail.

Micah Hoffpauir  1B/OF

Last season the Cubs organization named Hoffpauir their minor league player of the year.  It was an easy decision as he batted an amazing .362 with 25 home runs to boot for Chicago's Triple A affiliate.

2009 has been a different story for Micah.  His minor league dominance has not yet translated into success in the majors.

But Hoffpauir possesses serious pop in his bat and is primarily a fly ball hitter (47.9% career FB%), two ingredients for a recipe for multiple long balls in a homer friendly Wrigley Field.

Hoffpauir is set to be called up when rosters expand from 25 to 40 players.

One must liken fantasy matchups to the moon revolving around the Earth and the Earth around the sun. The smallest motions gradually fit into the grander scheme—batter versus pitcher, team versus team, team versus grinding season.

I am not advocating you to drop a fantasy stud for any of these players. But replacing dead weight with the above mentioned or any other worthy batters or pitchers from the Rockies or the Cubs will give a September edge to your team.


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