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Victorino Returns For Pinch-Hitting Appearance

Shane Victorino (back) was used as a pinch-hitter on Thursday night. He struck out in the eighth inning. It’s still unclear when he’ll re-join the starting lineup. (Rotoworld)

AaRr Mortgages Future for 2006

On the anniversary of D-Day, the largest military offensive in history, the Roadrunners mount their own offensive towards the top of the standings. The Roadrunners trade stud $1 3B Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) and Brewers SS J.J. Hardy to Goodfellas for Chipper Jones, Geoff Jenkins, and Chad Cordero.

Chipper plugs right into the lineup in Zimmerman’s place, and while he’s no bargain at $24, he will likely out-produce Zimmerman over the course of the season. He’ll provide a similar average (as Zimmerman’s projected .340 hasn’t really happened yet – he’s in the high .260’s) and more pop, in a better ballpark, in a better lineup. His health is (as always) questionable, and he’s already missed time this season. Zimmerman, on the other hand, has missed a few games this past week due to a stiff back.

Jenkins, a former Roadrunner on two different occasions, re-joins the squad after being traded for Aaron Heilman a year ago. The Roadrunners were running out a combination of Damian Jackson, Cody Ross, Jeff DaVanon and Joe Borchard for two OF spots, so the addition of Jenkins helps solidify the OF, along with Moises Alou coming off the DL today.

Addressing the other big issue is Chad Cordero. Cordero, whose WBRL contract will expire following the season, plugs into the bullpen and brings a second legitimate closer to the (still) slow-starting Armando Benitez. Bannished will be Danys Baez, who really hasn’t done much at all except suck. Baez still has the label of “closer”, though, so we’ll hang onto him in case a trade comes through.

The Roadrunners will miss J.J. Hardy, but not as much as expected. He has been out for the past three weeks with a sprained ankle, and rumors are that he’ll platoon with Bill Hall at SS upon his return. A good protection from last season, Hardy was originally acquired as a pickup after The Pi Train cut him after his dislocated shoulder in 2004. The Roadrunners still have Jose Reyes and Khalil Greene at SS, along with uber-prospect Stephen Drew at the position, along with utility guys Rich Aurilia and Damian Jackson available, so Shortstop is set for the time being.

In order to make room on the roster, Jason Vargas was released, as he wasn’t pitching well in AAA Albuquerque for the Marlins, and Taylor Buchholz was let go following another disasterous outing. Kip Wells was snagged as a free agent, and he may prove to be useful later on. Buchholz was also facing the return of Roger Clemens, so he might have been headed to AAA as well.

AaRr Transactions – Week of May 9th

Acquired Florida OF Joe Borchard for FAAB $18. Borchard was acquired by the Marlins from Seattle, where he was designated for assignment. In Florida, Borchard has an opportunity to play every day in either right or center, and once Jeremy Hermida returns, he will likely platoon with Reggie Abercrombie in center field. It’s envisioned that Eric Reed will be sent down. Abercrombie could also use some time in AAA, but he’s shown just enough to stick, especially in light of the dearth of other options the Marlins have. An OF of Willingham – Borchard – Hermida isn’t all bad. Matt Cepicky was designated for assignment to make room on the Marlins’ roster.

For the Roadrunners, Borchard replaces the injured Cody Ross in the active OF. Ross is currently doing rehab in AAA, and is eligible to come back next week from his broken pinkie finger. Ross, who performed well for the Dodgers in April, could contribute so long as Ken Griffey, Jr. is still out, as Ryan Freel is slumping in CF. That would enable the Roadrunners to send down Jeff DaVanon, whose April hot streak is over.

The Roadrunners also picked up Jason Ellison, the 5th OF for the Giants, for a $0 FAAB bid. Ellison is decent, and contributed last season, especially in the steals department. The acquisition of Randy Winn at the deadline sealed Ellison’s fate last season. But with AaRr’s Moises Alou out for at least two weeks with an ankle sprain, (being replaced by 41-year old Steve Finley), along with the quasi-healthy Barry Bonds, and Randy Winn who injured his knee last night, there seems like ample opportunity for Ellison to get AB’s over the next few weeks.

AARR also sent down injured catcher Mike Lieberthal of the Phillies, and acquired Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino. Paulino seems to be the starter for the Bucs, as manager Jim Tracy prefers his combination of 80% of the offense of Ryan Doumit, and 80% of the defense of Humberto Cota. The Pirates once again are screwing with an offesive-minded catcher by jerking him around – Doumit is now practicing at 1B, taking time away from their last problem – Craig Wilson, who started behind the plate but was moved out to 1B and RF. See also the case of Chris Duffy and Nate McLouth in centerfield – both should be playing regularly to get in a groove, and ideally one would be sent down to AAA, but Tracy keeps jerking them around – there is no real platoon effect with those two. Anyway, Paulino will step in for Lieberthal, and seems to be a decent pickup. Dare I say, if he shows any potential with the bat besides batting average, he could be under consideration for protection.

To make room for the three new Roadrunners, Nationals’ OF Brandon Watson was released. We may have seen the last of him in AAA New Orleans, as the new ownership group may bring an influx of cash and potential free agents into the fold. In any case, he just wasn’t that good, and his sole point in getting him was the fact that he was leading off and had speed. That lasted 10 whole days. The Roadrunners also released Nats’ reliever Gary Majewski . Majewski, aqcuired in the minor league draft, had potential, and responded well to a rough patch in late April. But the bottom line is that closer Chad Cordero only has 2 saves, and the Nats suck, so no vulture wins, or Cordero-overuse saves in Majewski’s future. Lastly, the Roadrunners released Padres OF Ben Johnson. He’s just too green, but we’ll keep an eye on him for the future.

Afternoon Notes

RotoAuthority’s Tim Dierkes has some research on BABIP:

According to Baseball Prospectus, the definition of BABIP:

“Batting Average on balls put into play. A pitcher’s average on batted balls ending a plate appearance, excluding home runs. Based on the research of Voros McCracken and others, BABIP is mostly a function of a pitcher’s defense and luck, rather than persistent skill. Thus, pitchers with abnormally high or low BABIPs are good bets to see their performances regress to the mean. A typical BABIP is about .290.”

Last year, eleven pitchers had a BABIP below .270: Clemens, Zito, Blanton, Pedro, Zambrano, Wakefield, Chen, Contreras, Benson, Santana, and Marquis.  The lowest was Clemens at .248.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that pitchers with BABIPs below .250 cannot expect it to last.  The following pitchers all have a BABIP of .230 or lower currently (remember, no one did this last year).

Taylor Buchholz – .125

…This seems likely to be a first time around the league type thing.  Same goes for Buchholz and Bannister.  Even Verlander, but probably to a lesser extent because his stuff is nasty.  While their 15 minutes may not be up and some of these guys will be decent, it is time to start thinking about selling high.

And BP’s Will Carroll clarifies the Wood rehab:

I’m apparently as smart as a lugnut. Kerry Wood will not be a Lugnut, as I stated yesterday, since the Cubs now have an affiliation with the Peoria Chiefs. The error is entirely mine, exacerbated by the fact that his May 7th start will come against the Lugnuts. Everything else in my report is accurate and I apologize for the error.

Lastly, some injury news:

Reds placed outfielder Cody Ross on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 29, with a bruised left pinkie. Ross was hurt when he was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance for the Reds. Chris Denorfia will replace him off the bench.

May 1st – Standings and Statistics

Standings: 5th Place - 71 points
9 out of first
GOK 80 / SJ 76.5 / C0 74 / X 72 / AARR / Pi Train 69.5

HR   AVG   RBI   R   SB    W   ERA   WHIP   K'S   S
--   ---   ---  ---  ---  ---  ----  -----  ---  ---
40  .2643  173  161  26   12   3.59  1.328  143   8
T-4  9TH   1ST  T-2  1ST  T-7  3RD   5TH    9TH  T-4

Atomic Roadrunners            ab  r  h  bi | bb so    avg
Johnny Estrada       Ari  C    4  2  4   4 |  0  0   .300
Prince Fielder       Mil 1B    4  0  1   0 |  1  1   .344
Jeff Kent            LAD 2B    5  0  0   0 |  0  1   .183
Ryan Zimmerman       Was 3B    4  2  2   1 |  0  2   .242
Khalil Greene         SD SS    2  1  0   1 |  2  0   .200
Adrian Gonzalez       SD 1B    1  0  0   0 |  0  0   .256
Adam Dunn            Cin OF    4  1  1   2 |  0  0   .265
Victor Diaz          NYM OF    1  0  0   0 |  0  0   .182
Moises Alou           SF OF    4  0  1   0 |  0  0   .360
Dave Roberts          SD OF    3  0  0   0 |  1  0   .231
Jose Reyes           NYM SS    2  1  1   1 |  3  0   .250
Totals                        34  7 10   9 |  7  4   .294
RBI: JEstrada 4(13), RZimmerman 1(17), KGreene 1(13), ADunn 2(17),
JReyes 1(12)
2B: PFielder 1(5)
HR: JEstrada 1(3), RZimmerman 1(4), ADunn 1(9)
GIDP: KGreene 1(4), MAlou 1(5)
CS: JReyes 1(3)

PITCHING                          ip  h  r er bb ibb so bf    era whip
Brandon Webb      W(4-0)         8.0  5  2  2  1   0  5 29    2.25 0.75
Danys Baez        BS(2)          0.7  1  2  2  2   0  0  5   25.71 4.29
Taylor Buchholz   W(2-1)         6.3  3  2  2  4   0  2 25    2.86 1.11
Totals                          15.0  9  6  6  7   0  7 59    3.60 1.07

RESERVE HITTING               ab  r  h  bi | bb so    avg
Rich Aurilia         Cin 2B    1  0  0   0 |  0  0   .296
Totals                         1  0  0   0 |  0  0   .000

RESERVE PITCHING                  ip  h  r er bb ibb so bf    era whip
Matt Herges                      2.0  1  1  1  1   0  3  7    4.50 1.00
Totals                           2.0  1  1  1  1   0  3  7    4.50 1.00

Cody Ross traded to Reds

The Dodgers traded OF Cody Ross to the Reds for a player to be named later. Ross, who was out of options, had been designated for assignment last Monday when the Dodgers needed to call up Oscar Robles to fill-in for Jeff Kent, who sufferend a concussion following a beaning by the Giants’ Matt Cain. To make room for Ross, the Reds designated 2B Tony Womack for assignment.

UTK Jeff Kent Update

From Will Carroll’s Under The Knife:

As bad as things looked for Jeff Kent a few days ago, seeing him in a game is both worrisome and wonderful. A couple Tylenols took care of the headache he’s still experiencing, while his blurred vision self-corrected. He’ll be watched closely by the medical staff. That headache says the effects of the beaning are still there. One thing I haven’t been able to figure out from the replays is whether Kent was wearing one of the new, ventilated helmets, or one of the old-style lids. I’m not sure there’s much difference in how they work, but information is information. 

Roster Moves for April 18th

Sorry, forgot to post these the other day. The Roadrunners made some acquisitions on Tuesday, and cut bait on some reserve outfielders.

First of all, Brandon Watson was sent down, as he was demoted to AAA New Orleans last week, though this was the first opportunity to send him down myself. In his place I had promoted Victor Diaz, especially since Cliff Floyd had a strained side, and Carlos Beltran is also hobbled. But, once again, the geniuses on the Mets sent Diaz down Monday afternoon, and thus played an outfield of Xavier Nady, Endy Chavez, and Javier Jose Valentin. Ewwww.

So down (again) went Diaz, and up came Ben Johnson. The good news was that the Padres sent down Terrmel Sledge, which was surprising, and so Ben Johnson became the starting centerfielder (I didn’t know he could play center) while Mike Cameron is out. Now Cameron is due to come off the DL later this week, but Johnson has impressed, especially with the 4 RBI yesterday, so he may play more than expected – though likely at the expense of Dave Roberts, and not at the expense of Brian Giles and Mike Cameron.

So those were the moves. In terms of pickups, the Roadrunners picked up formerly-hot and now designated for assignment OF Cody Ross. Ross was DFA’d on Monday because Jeff Kent was beaned, and the Dodgers needed to bring up Oscar Robles. Never mind that Kent missed only one game. In this gambit, I’m pinning my hopes on the fact that somebody claims him (like Florida, or hell, anyone) and plays him regularly. FAAB Cost: $3, added to reserves. To secure Ross, the Roadrunners jettisoned Matt Diaz, who starts once a week, gets three additional AB’s as a pinch hitter per week, and will then be lower on the totem pole when Kelly Johnson returns.

The second pickup is another starting pitcher hedge – Aaron Cook, of the Rockies. I picked him up at the end of last year, and attempted to pick him up two weeks ago, but he was a lower priority. Cook can get wins, and so if AaRr is in need of innings or wins, I can flood the roster with Kerry Wood, Aaron Cook, and Taylor Buchholz, and send down the set-up men for a while. Dropped was Shane Victorino, who unfortunately isn’t going to play unless Rowand seriously injures himself – he’s been just a pinch runner of late. FAAB Cost: $0

Overnight Dispatches

Courtesy of RotoWorld:

Until Shawn Green heats up, the Diamondbacks may use Jeff DaVanon over him against lefties. Green is 3-for-27 in seven games after going 0-for-4 against the Rockies on Thursday night. Slow starts are nothing new for Green, as April has been his worst month in two of the last four years and second worst in one of the others. His contract will guarantee that he’ll stay in the lineup against right-handers, even though the Diamondbacks might have a superior right fielder in Triple-A in Carlos Quentin.

Moises Alou hit his 300th career homer as the Giants beat the Astros 5-3 in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader. It was a solo shot off Brandon Backe. Alou later added a sac fly, giving him eight RBI in seven games. Alou has really heated up since the end of spring training, hitting .348 with three home runs. If Alou can remain healthy for the entire season, 30 home runs is not completely out of the question.

After replacing an injured Brandon Backe, Taylor Buchholz allowed two runs in three innings on Thursday. Buchholz threw 58 pitches, making it unlikely that he’ll be ready to start Sunday’s game. He still figures to get a start next week, but the Astros may turn to Fernando Nieve or call up someone from the minors to pitch Sunday.

Nationals optioned outfielder Brandon Watson to Triple-A New Orleans. As much as we agree with the move, it’s the sign of a poorly run team that Watson is being sent down after just 28 at-bats. The Nationals like his speed enough that there’s a good chance he’ll get another opportunity at some point during the season. It’s fine to drop him for now, though. The Nationals are admitting carrying Brandon Watson was a mistake even though Church was just 3-for-23 at New Orleans. A Church-Marlon Byrd platoon in center field is definitely the way the Nationals should have gone initially.

Jason Vargas held the Padres to two runs in six innings on Thursday to earn his first win of the season. Vargas walked five, but he managed to work around them for the most part. That won’t work against other teams. Since his next start comes at Coors Field, he should be benched in NL-only leagues.

Carlos Quentin (injured side muscle) was back in the lineup for Arizona’s Triple-A franchise on Wednesday, going 0-for-4. Quentin had been out since Sunday due to the injury. 

Overnight Dispatches

Courtesy of RotoWorld:

Armando Benitez is aiming to throw batting practice today, according to the Contra Costa Times. Giants manager Felipe Alou expressed doubts about Benitez coming off the disabled list when eligible on Monday, though he added that “it’s going to happen some time next week. Benitez felt great after throwing from the mound on Sunday. The Giants may send him for one minor league rehab appearance before activating him.

Kerry Wood (shoulder) was clocked in the 90s while throwing batting practice on Monday. He should be back the first week in May. “I heard Woody was very promising,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “He was low- to mid-90s with some of the things he threw. He’s not that far off. But I can’t speculate on what soon means.”