While the baseball draft is specifically designed to draft on potential, the money invested in these players is rarely large enough to make a dent in the salary structure of most teams. Signing bonuses outside the top picks are light, and contracts are far from large in rookie ball.
The NBA Draft last night can be summed up as follows: Team X is going to have to wait a few years; he is not quite ready. For 10 picks in a row, that is what Jay Bilas and company seemed to imply about everyone.
Yet, these teams are going to invest huge dollar contracts on players that will likely just be coming into their own by the time the rookie guaranteed contract expires.
Anyone who watched the Big East this season knows Hasheem Thabeet. He can play defense, no doubt there. Still, he spends more time on the ground than standing up, cannot hit a free throw, and has hands of stone. He gets drafted No. 2 overall.
One of the players that owned him this season, DeJuan Blair, goes in the middle of round two.
The NBA, where nonsense happens.
On to the notes.
- The return of John Smoltz was not what everyone anticipated. Smoltz threw 30 pitches in the first inning and allowed four runs. After that, though, Smoltz settled down. He worked five innings and gave up five runs, but his pitches got better as the innings went along. His location was off, and his split was up a fair amount, but this is certainly something to build one.
- Jordan Zimmermann earned his first win since April by working seven solid innings against Boston last night. The young pitcher showed off a solid fastball and mix of pitches that kept the Red Sox hitters off-balance most of the night. Boston tends to do this against young pitching they have not seen before.
- Mark DeRosa is going to be a player to watch as we approach the trading deadline. Multiple teams, according to Jayson Stark, are poking around. They include the Cubs, Marlins, Cardinals, and Yankees. The Cardinals would likely help him hold his value best, as he likely steps in to second or third base easily to start. Watch this one closely.
- Jimmy Rollins did not start last night for the Phillies, and he will not play tonight for them either. Charlie Manuel is looking to get Rollins some rest and help him snap out of a season-long slump that sees him hitting below .220. It has been a long year for Rollins owners, and they can only hope the second half changes everything.
- The Phillies also announced that Cole Hamels will get the ball tonight in Toronto as opposed to J.A. Happ. The move is designed to get Hamels another start before the break, and is no indication of any injury to the rest of the staff, at least at this point. Adjust lineups accordingly.
- No doubt, Garrett Atkins owners are frustrated. Still, look at his numbers in June. While the time has been more limited, Atkins is hitting .302 in 57 at-bats this month. He has raised his average 20 points over his last ten games to .216. He is a long way from where he should be, but it is a step in the right direction. As he gets dropped by frustrated owners, keep an eye on how the Rockies use him.
- For those of you looking for some help in the middle infield, there are some options still widely available in deeper leagues. June has been kind to both Jack Wilson and Yunel Escobar. Wilson has hit .322 in the last 30 days while Escobar checks in at .290 in the same time. Escobar has also added 16 runs scored and 18 RBI. If you are struggling with Rollins, these two can provide some relief.
- Chris Carpenter was out-dueled by Johan Santana yesterday in what can only be described as an impressive game. Carpenter gave up three runs in the fourth inning, but that was it for the Mets. He worked seven innings, and continues to show how much of a steal he was in the late rounds. Tough to say that we expected these type of performances from Santana, but we did.
- Derek Lowe was roughed up by the Yankees last night, giving up 11 hits and six earned runs in just three innings of work. Alex Rodriguez has returned to life, driving in four runs last night after coming up with a clutch hit on Wednesday night as well. Lowe is coming off now two rough outings, struggling against all three AL East opponents he has faced in a row.
- Matt Cain has been dominant on the road, going 4-0 to start the season and posting a 2.06 ERA in the process. For the month, Cain is 3-0 and has an ERA sitting under 2.30. Look to avoid as many Brewers as you can in this one. The biggest issue could be Mike Cameron. Cameron is 3-for-25 against Cain in his career.
- Keep riding Wandy Rodriguez at home. The Astros starter, despite a bad outing at home against the Rockies, has a 2.15 ERA at Minute Maid in seven starts. Batters hit just .219 against him at home. This sets up a solid strikeout duel with Justin Verlander. Expect a low scoring affair in this one.
- While Gil Meche was roughed up by the Cardinals, that start still keeps his ERA under 4.00 for the month of June. Meche was on a tear prior to that outing, having thrown 16 straight scoreless innings. Better still, Meche has been strong on the road all season, going 3-2 with a 2.20 ERA. While the Royals have struggled, Meche is a good option against the Pirates.
- Glen Perkins is a solid pitcher if he can get out of the first inning. After his three runs allowed in the first last time out, his ERA in that inning jumped over 11.00. The Twins starter is usually an intriguing spot play, but not so much on the road, especially against the Cardinals. Keep him reserved in this one, despite the temptation.
- Nothing about Kevin Millwood's numbers say that there will be good things for the Padres. Millwood has been utterly dominant at home, and incredibly strong through the month of June. Lefties are hitting only .226 against him, and batters hit just .246 against him at home. Still, he is available in 20 percent of leagues. Grab him if you can.
- Alfonso Soriano has gone 5-for-8 against Jose Contreras, including three home runs. After his day off on Monday, Soriano has looked better at the plate in the last few games. Do not worry about the fact his coaches are looking for him to be more patient. This zebra is not going to change stripes.
- Oakland is the worst team in baseball in terms of batting average against left-handed pitching, hitting .236. They draw Clayton Kershaw tonight. Batters are hitting .213 against him for the season. This would not be a matchup to go grabbing any Athletics that you do not have to start. Seriously, for your own safety.
- Look to avoid Brian McCann and Chipper Jones against Josh Beckett on Friday. Beckett has owned both, holding McCann to 3-for-14 and Jones to 5-for-28 in their careers. Garrett Anderson is 9-for-20 against Beckett, and remains a good option in this one.
- Mike Pelfrey has danced with fire all season. Lefties are hitting .293 against him, so look to keep the likes of Johnny Damon in the lineup. Mark Teixeira is already 4-for-10 against him, and batters overall have hit .326 against him in June. Even in a pitcher's park like Citi Field, Pelfrey is allowing a .283 BAA. Get your Yankees in the lineup against him here. Even reach for a guy like Nick Swisher in this one.
- CC Sabathia is on track for his start against the Mets. He threw a bullpen session and said that he felt good. This could certainly all change in the next 24 hours, but should it not, there are no major red flags against him in the Mets lineup. Gary Sheffield has the best numbers, and he has only hit .278 against Sabathia. The Mets are likely to score, especially if Sabathia is not 100 percent. Do not be surprised with a limited outing of five innings and three runs allowed.
- Grady Sizemore is back for the Indians, and he is a .400 hitter in 20 at-bats against Aaron Harang. DeRosa is 4-for-14, but the remaining Indians with a track record are not overly impressive. Look to avoid Jhonny Peralta, given his .235 mark, and the 2-for-15 of Victor Martinez.
- Spot Starts: Brad Bergesen, Randy Wells, Ricky Romero
- An overall decent matchup for Barry Zito. While Corey Hart and Ryan Braun are a combined 7-for-16 with three home runs, the rest of the Brewers lineup is largely pedestrian against Zito. Another rough one for Cameron, given he is a .243 hitter in 37 at-bats against Zito.
- Nothing wrong with starting Garrett Anderson (five home runs), Casey Kotchman (5-for-17), or Chipper Jones (.333) against Tim Wakefield. Wakefield is 3-0 in June with an ERA of 4.26. Think six innings, three earned each time out. He would be 4-0 if the bullpen did not blow his last start. Still, he is just 3-3 on the road this season and has an ERA over 5.00 in those starts.
- Avoid most of your Mets against A.J. Burnett. Other than Brian Schneider, who should be behind the plate, and Gary Sheffield, there is not a single Mets starter with decent numbers against Burnett. This could be a long day for them. Schneider, though, is 9-for-23 and Sheffield is 9-for-30 with three home runs.
- Possible we see either Soriano or Kosuke Fukudome with a day off on Saturday against Mark Buehrle. Soriano is just 6-for-29 against the White Sox starter, but does have two home runs. Reed Johnson, though, is 10-for-27 and Milton Bradley is 8-for-25. Look for these two if you need a couple hits on Saturday.
- All of Paul Maholm's June starts have been on the road, a place he has struggled most of the season. Against Kansas City at home, he should be started. Maholm has a 2-1 record with a 1.83 ERA and .244 BAA in five home starts this season.
- Jamie Moyer was lit up by the Blue Jays his last time out, and he still has problems against virtually every regular in the lineup. Really, start them all. Lyle Overbay, Aaron Hill, Marco Scutaro, Vernon Wells, and Alex Rios all rake against him. Everyone in that group has at least 16 at-bats and at least a .350 average. Stay away from Moyer.
- So the reason to start Chien-Ming Wang is because the Yankees have had fantastic success against Livan Hernandez. If Wang were to put up a similar line to his last two games (5IP, 3ER), he should get a win. Start every single Yankees player you can find. The only red flag is Damon, as he is 2-for-13 against Hernandez. That is the only worry though.
- Aaron Cook has four wins in a row, and has been very good on the road for the bulk of the season. With a 4-1 June record and 2.65 ERA for the month, Cook has earned being a spot start. He gets a pitcher's park and a decent lineup to pitch against in Oakland.
- Be careful with Aaron Rowandin the matchup on Sunday against Jeff Suppan. Rowand is just 4-for-20 against the Brewers starter. No other concerns in the Giants lineup. In fact, owners that need a boost may want to reach for Edgar Renteria. The shortstop is a .303 hitter against Suppan. Keep Bengie Molina and Randy Winn in lineups as well.
- Joel Pineiro has allowed just four earned runs in his last 22.1 innings pitched. Pineiro has been very solid, giving owners what Kyle Lohse provided last season in terms of production. The Cardinals starter has a 2.32 ERA at home this season in six starts, but has suffered from a lack of run support. Against Minnesota, he is a good spot play.
- Spot Starts: Doug Davis, Jeremy Guthrie, Dallas Braden, Brian Tallet, Cook, Pineiro