By OTC Contributor James Sargent
Vladimir Guerrero: Thought Vlad was done? Think again. The slugger is now hitting .339 with six homeruns and 26 RBIs. Guerrero was let go by the Angels and picked up as a DH by the Rangers who did not know this was the kind of production they would get from the 35-year-old. Guerrero likes it hot, and he has always been a monster at the Ballpark in Arlington, though usually he pillaged as an Angel, not a Ranger. Though you should expect some days off for Vlad, you shuld also expect the former MVP to keep hitting the ball like a driving range for the Rangers.
John Buck: John Buck has not been a consistent hitter, batting .247, but he has provided a very powerful bat to the Blue Jays lineup. He has slugged eight homeruns, which matches what he did all of last season, and he had a three homer night about a week and a half ago, which triggered his recent binge. The binge bombing continued this weekend, as Buck went yard twice on Friday and once on Saturday. If you want some power numbers added to your squad, pick up Buck, especially since the catcher position has been weak to start. Don’t rely heavily on him though, because sooner or later he will let you down.
Brett Gardner: Brett Gardner has filled the role of Curtis Granderson very nicely, and since Granderson will be sidelined for at least a few weeks, Gardner is sure to be playing every day in the Yankees outfield. The speedy centerfielder has swiped 14 bags on the season and has contributed a 344 batting average. Gardner creates situations for the Yankees the same way as Jacoby Ellsbury did last season for the Red Sox. The speed and defense he brings are what the Red Sox are missing right now. I wonder where Boston would be if Ellsbury was healthy, because it is sure helping New York.
Chone Figgins: Chone Figgins is still stealing bags and scoring runs, but he has more walks then he does hits. His .185 batting average is disgraceful, but his .326 OBP is decent for the struggling infielder. Owners of Chone would love to see his average balloon back up to the .290 hitter he typically is, but so far the Mariners as a team have been a big disappointment. However, he started extremely slowly last season as well and the average should bounce back. The runs, however, could be an issue with Milton Bradley sidelined with a case of the crazies.
Adam Jones: Adam Jones, who was a huge help to the Orioles last season, is not producing like he should. The young outfielder was just recently moved from his customary leadoff role to batting number two in the lineup. Hopefully this can jumpstart his season and he can get back on track to a season like last year. His .230 batting average and seven RBIs are definitely not what owners expected at this point in the season. Also, don’t look for Jones to return to the leadoff spot at all with other hitters filling the role of the injured Brian Roberts.
Nate McLouth: Nate McLouth could watch Jordan Schafer come up and cut into his playing time. Schafer could get an early call-up as the Braves have been getting daily updates on his progress in Class AAA Gwinnett (Ga.). With McLouth batting .176 and Atlanta continuing to struggle to find a consistent leadoff hitter, Schafer could get another shot in the big leagues. A call-up of Schafer is even more tantalizing now that rookie right fielder Jason Heyward’s sore groin could continue to hamper his production. Drop McLouth immediately and pick someone else up, but do not buy into Schafer yet.
Jon Garland: Here you go, Ross! Your Padres have been stellar and here is a Padres pitcher that has been scorching as of late. In Garland’s last two starts he has gone 14 innings without giving up a run and has only allowed five hits. Look for this trend to continue with Garland as he searches to find his old White Sox form. Somewhere, the San Diego Chicken is dancing and flapping up a storm for Jon Garland.
Jhoulys Chacín: Chacín is in the rotation right now due to the injuries that the Rockies have endured, but has surely made the most of his past two starts. The 22-year-old right-hander is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 16 strikeouts. Manager Jim Tracy loves the kid and loves his command of the fastball, so we will see if Chacín is here to stay in the upcoming weeks.
Neftali Feliz: Neftali Feliz took over the closer role after Frank Francisco started the season off horribly. Feliz has gone the past six innings without allowing a run and has recorded six saves to his season save total of nine. The young flamethrower has also tallied 18 strikeouts in his 16 and 2/3 innings of work. With Francisco still struggling, it looks like Feliz will have the closers spot for the time being and possibly into the future.
Felix Hernandez: King Felix has been garbage in his past two starts giving up a total of 12 earned runs. Manager Don Wakamatsu said Hernandez was struggling with his mechanics according to Yahoo! Sports. Hernandez’s ERA has risen to 4.30 and he looks to get back on track come his next start. Though still very young, Hernandez has been in the league long enough to rebound from such efforts and if the Mariners want any shot at the AL West, Hernandez needs to be the leader of the pitching staff and get everybody else back in key.
Edwin Jackson: Some could argue that Edwin Jackson’s past start against Brewers was a step in the right direction, but overall he has not been what the Diamondbacks had hoped for. Jackson was much more aggressive against the Brewers and struck out seven while allowing three earned in seven innings. Jackson is 1-4 on the season with a 7.32 ERA. He has the stuff to make it in the National League but just hasn’t been consistent enough and still has plenty of room for improvement. OTC has been skeptical of him, but if he can get it together, he can be very good for the Diamondbacks.
Gavin Floyd: Gavin Floyd has gotten off to a horrid start and is posting a 6.92 ERA through seven starts. He has had two quality starts while allowing four earned runs or more in every other start. This right-hander is very hittable and it is showing so far this season. Again, like Edwin Jackson, Floyd has the stuff but just hasn’t quite reached his potential yet. I am a fan of Floyd and I like the way he pitches. Check out his 2008 stat line and that can show you his true potential.