the Ugueth Urbina Pen Pals

It’s time to check in on the peasant workers of the league and those trouble making, late inning relievers. We have plenty of mischief to investigate, even on the off day, so grab your machete and gasoline can and meet me after the jump.

Carlos Ruiz hit his second home run of the year (off Jordan Zimmermann). Ruiz went 2 for 4, raising his AVG to .351. He makes for a solid pick up for those who paid the price for Joe Mauer. Ruiz could easily hit .280 with 10 HR. He’s not going to carry your team, but he makes for a nice role player. Carlos is currently available in 56% of Y! leagues.

The top of Washington’s batting order: Desmond (.180), Ankiel (.200), Werth (.217) and LaRoche (.211). That is (fill in the blank). Spring Training celebrity Mike Morse is hitting .133. These five combined to bat 0-16 against Cliff Lee on Thursday.

Jordan Zimmermann needs to be rostered in more than 61% of Y! leagues. Tonight’s gem [7 IP, 5 H, ER, 4 K] gives Zimmer three straight. He now sports a sleek 0.98 WHIP and 2.45 ERA through 18.1 IP. He hasn’t walked anyone in his past two starts. The soon-to-be 25-year old came into Thursday with a career 8.42 K/9 and 2.83 BB/9. Jordan is very good. I give you permission to use the team name: Million Dollar zimmerMann.

Jose Lopez is close to being dropped from my Roto Arcade Pro-Am team. He went 0-4 in the early game and Jonathan Herrera went 2 for 5 with his first home run and three RBI. Herrera (6% owned) is on fire, hitting .458 (11 for 24) with a home run and four stolen bases. He is absolutely locked in, not missing the ball when he swings and lacing line drives when he does make contact. This is what we call a hot streak, find a way to take advantage.

Dexter Fowler went 4 for 10 with two runs and two RBI in the double header. The Rockies leadoff hitter is now batting .280 and is ranked No. 97 in Y! leagues. Fowler is batting leadoff, in Colorado, hitting .280, has 30 SB potential and is ranked inside the 100 players. He is available in over 60% of Y! leagues. Once he hits a 50% ownership rate, you no longer get style points for rostering Dexter Fowler.

Sam Fuld went 2 for 5 with a run and his seventh stolen base. I think I called Fuld “a homeless man’s Denard Span”, but after seven steals in less than 40 at bats I may have to apologize. The 35% owned outfielder recently joined my Blog Wars team, prompting a jealous manager to remark, “I’ve been looking at Fuld, waiting to pick him up, but the fucking Orioles wouldn’t put Hardy on the DL today. Fuck those guys“. Thank you Baltimore. Cool stat: coming into Thursday he hasn’t swung and missed at any pitches inside the zone, 100% Z-Contact%

Johnny Damon (11% owned) is the proud owner of a six game hitting streak. He is gaining steam after stumbling out of the gate. He’s hit three home runs during the past six games and has three stolen bases to match. You could do worse than a streaking Johnny Damon.

Phil Hughes was rocked once again, this time by Baltimore [4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 K, HR]. That’s three straight poor performances. He struggled with his velocity and it was a struggle that he lost. Brooks Baseball had his Fastball averaging 89 mph, topping out at 90.9 mph. Last season he was at 92.5 mph and 93.6 mph in 2009 acccording to Fangraphs PitchFx. The missing velocity may be found in his mechanics, but his PitchFx charts make it look like Hughes peaked in 2009 when he was throwing 95 mph. The gradual loss in velocity over 2010 and 2011 appears as if Hughes suffered an injury in late ’09 and has pitched through it ever since. I would almost bet on him undergoing surgery rather than him finding the velocity via a tweak in his motions. I am very pleased that I came away from the war room without Hughes in hand. I’d be sending out dozens of soon-to-be rejected trade offers.

Only the Pirates can make Randy Wolf look this good: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 10 K, Win

Chris Coghlan, Florida’s leadoff hitter, is on a mini-tear with three straight multi-hit games. He’s now hitting .288 with one home run in 52 at bats. A lot of his value hinges on whether or not his knee is healthy enough (after surgery) to steal upwards of 15 bases. He’s 0 for 1 in his attempts thus far. If you’d like to gamble on his health he is available in 90% of Y! leagues. We’ll call that a low risk, medium reward play.

Thanks to the Padres, Bud Norris got a reminder of what it was like to pitch in the minors without the hassle of being demoted. Orlando Hudson was San Diego’s No. 3 hitter, life without Adrian is that bad. One of my favorite sleepers, Bud Norris (10%) now has a 1.19 WHIP with 20 K and 6 BB in 16 IP. You need to find a way to make room on your roster for any starting pitcher who is pushing a 11.25 K/9 and 3.38 BB/9.

Don’t fall in love with Phil Coke‘s alluring numbers. The .178 BABIP is a landmine waiting to explode. If the 5.06 K/9 and 3.38 BB/9 play out over the course of the season, Coke will be suitable only for AL-only and extremely deep mixed leagues. Put him in the “too good to be true” pile.

Gio Gonzalez walked six batters in six innings. He didn’t allow a run to cross the plate though. Undoubtedly, Dontrelle Willis was inspired, but this was the reason I wasn’t willing to dive head first into the Gio Gonzalez gaga fest. Gio has plenty of potential, but his 7.67 K/9 from ’10 wasn’t that great. That’s barely better than Gavin Floyd’s career average. Gio’s BB/9 now stands at 5.68, just under his K/9 (6.63). Prepare for Gio Gonzalez Sell High articles.

Matt Kemp went 3 for 5, including his second home run (off Ryan Franklin) and his eighth stolen base. He is now hitting .444 and it appears Davey Lopes straightened out his base running issues from ’10. I just wanted to say, welcome back to the first round Matt Kemp. I won’t be surprised when he is a Top Five pick in ’11. I just wish he wasn’t so popular in my leagues, I’d have more than one share.

and now for those trouble making, late inning relievers, the Ugueth Urbina Pen Pals

Houston Street struggled against the Mets, nearly blowing a Save after giving up three hits, a walk and two earned runs. He recorded only one out (Pagan fly out) and gave up a home run to Scott Hairston. Matt Lindstrom got the two out save, his second of the season. It’s pretty much a given that Street will temporarily lose his job (due to injury or slump) and the team could look to any of Matt Lindstrom, Rafael Betancourt or Matt Belisle. Both Lindstrom and Betancourt have pitched the 8th inning three times in the six games in which Huston Street has recorded a save. With the team going to Lindstrom rather than Raffy to clean up Huston’s mess (he’s up 2-0), he has to be the favorite for the early opportunities in the event of Huston being kicked to the streets.

Francisco Rodriguez gave up three hits, including a Ty Wigginton RBI single, against the Rockies in a meaningless appearance. He struck out two in the 20-pitch inning.

Joe Nathan blew a save, which was immediately followed by a Matt Capps blown save. Each gave up two runs, but Capps’ damage was worse as he served up a two-run homer to Johnny Damon and recorded only one out while taking the dreaded loss. Nathan’s fastball averaged 91 mph and he topped out at 92 mph, still down about two mph from 2009. Kyle Farnsworth was credited with the overtime win for Tampa.

Kevin Gregg blew his first save. A solo shot by Jorge Posada was all it took for the Koji Uehara talk to get louder. Gregg got through the inning, striking out two after giving up a no-out double to Curtis Granderson. Koji, meanwhile, hasn’t pitched since April 7th with no news to speak of. Mariano Rivera picked up the win for the Yankees.

Joel Hanrahan gave up three hits and two earned runs in a non-save situation against the Brewers. This, in turn, made John Axford‘s appearance a non-save situation. Axford allowed three batters to reach base and a run to cross the plate, but the Brewers won by three anyway. Stacheford had a shaky start to the year and his numbers aren’t pretty, but he has converted three straight saves.

Ryan Franklin served up a solo shot to Matt Kemp in a non-save situation. Andy Behrens was spotted picking up Miguel Batista (highlights here). I think the latest Miguel Batista talk may be a clever rouge by Tony LaRussa. No one will call for Franklin’s head if they think Miguel Batista is coming in next. Well played Tony. If you’re in desperate need of saves and have no shame, Miguel Batista could be your guy, but if you want solid numbers with a shot an outside shot at saves, Jason Motte is your man. Motte makes the most sense, but Tony prefers experience to talent. Look for Franklin to drag this out.