Players get hot and cold over a seven-day period, it’s as sure as the samples are small.
That is why Katy created the Hot ‘N’ Cold All-stars.
Jose Constanza – I’ve resisted writing about Constanza for as long as humanly possible. But, as noted in the Chicken Roaster episode from Seinfeld, you just can’t shake the name or the jingle “By Mennen.” Alright readers, I’ll be honest, the first time I heard about Constanza, I found him very irritating, but after seeing him play for a couple of times, he sorta got stuck in my head, Constanza! Well, over the last seven days, the plucky fourth outfielder has gone 10/23 with a homer and three steals. After looking like a promising little player in 2008 (at AA for the Indians he went .282/.378/.342 with 49 steals), Constanza hasn’t done much of note. Even that impressive season is marred by the fact that he was repeating the level. Constanza’s one positive attribute, speed, is rendered nearly void by the fact that he hasn’t figure out how to walk or really get on base without a BABIP north of .360. His MLB BABIP sits at .450 this year despite a paltry line drive rate (15.4%) and massive ground ball rate (69.2%). He doesn’t swing and miss, so he will put the ball in play, and we all know how many seeing eye grounders it takes to turn a .250 hitter into a .300 hitter, but he’s never going to get on base enough to make his speed matter. His upside is a slightly broken down version of Juan Pierre.
David DeJesus – Did Hideki Matsui show DeJesus the Lazarus Pit hidden somewhere in Alameda? Over the last seven days, DeJesus has gone 9/25 with three bombs. Like most Oakland players, DeJesus is in the midst of his worst offensive season ever. He is striking out more and swinging and missing more than ever. However, that doesn’t really account for the dip in average and on base percentage. Rather, for some reason, DeJesus is posting a ridiculously low average on balls in play (.267 compared to .317 for his career). While his average on balls in play has plummeted, his line drive rate has remained constant, he is actually hitting a few less ground balls and a good bit more fly balls and way more infield flies. Of course, that’s not the recipe for success in his new home ballpark. I’m speculating that DeJesus is going to bounce back down the stretch – over the last 28 days, his BABIP is .327 and he is hitting .289. Still, don’t expect much speed or power, so he’s more of a deep league last outfielder type.
Juan Rivera – I really thought Rivera had a chance to hit a ton of homers in the Rogers Centre – turns out what Rivera really needed was the inferior competition of the National League. Over the last seven days, Rivera is 7/15 with a homer, and, since coming to the Dodgers, is batting .338. I wouldn’t be shocked if Rivera can bat .275 the rest of the way with 5-7 homers. Color me mildly impressed. Of course, at the first sign of a slump, dump away.
Juan Pierre – Two Juan Pierre mentions in one article – that is probably a bad sign. Well, it’s hard to ignore Pierre’s play of late (10/30 with three steals over his last seven days, 17 for his last 55 and 33 for his last 103). After stealing 68 bases last year, Pierre is sitting at just 19 this season, despite hitting for a higher average (although his OBP is a tick lower). I blame this on his increased power. In actuality, the real problem has been his caught stealing rate. He was caught a ton last year, but, this season, he’s been caught even more. Still, he has stolen eight bases in his last 11 tries dating back to July 1, of course that’s a little more than a steal a week, which makes owning him in h2h somewhat pointless. I’d monitor him, but unless he starts running more and continues this success rate, he brings nothing to the table.
Jose Altuve – Certainly there is a lot of keeper league love going to those who qualify at 2b. But, Jose Altuve has been largely ignored, despite going 11/31 with two steals over the last seven days. In fact, he is hitting .346 over the last month, albeit with no homers and just those two steals. Altuve, not really a source for power or speed in the minors, is still young (21-years-old), meaning a lot could develop. He might not be useful, expect in deep leagues in 2011, but in dynasty and keeper leagues, he should be gobbled up.
Javier Vazquez – You may have missed it, but Vazquez dominated the Cardinals in his last start. In fact, in his last three starts, spanning 20 innings, he has allowed three earned runs while striking out 12. Vazquez has been a very good pitcher over the second half of the season: 3.16 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8 K/9 and 2.80 K:BB. His BABIP in the second half (.261) is a little low and he has some bizarre home/road splits, but, if you’re looking for pitching, Vazquez might be a nice speculative play.
Guillermo Moscoso – Despite a disastrous turn against the Rays over the last seven days, Moscoso’s line didn’t look all that bad: 10.2 IPs, nine Ks, 4.22 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. On the year, he has a 3.52 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, which is why, I assume, I am getting questions about him via twitter. Despite the park, I don’t advocate going anywhere near Moscoso – he has a 4.81 K/9 rate and 3.4 BB/9 – that ain’t going work. Right now he has a .235 BABIP. Now, he has shown the ability to strike guys out in the minors, however, until that translates to professional ball, there is no reason to roster Moscoso.
Chad Billinglsey – I’m growing to loathe Billinglsey. Last week, in two starts, he threw 10.1 IPs, accompanied by a 4.35 ERA and 1.84 WHIP and just two punch outs. This season his Ks are down and his walks are up. While batters are making more and better contact against him, using his last few starts to damn him might be going a bit too far. Still, I’d be very careful how I use Billinglsey down the stretch. Since he struck out 10 Nationals on July 24, he has six total Ks in his last three starts. All is wrong in Dodgertown.
Aaron Harang – My favorite pitcher ever! His last seven days (10.2 IPs, 5.91 ERA and 2.62) brought much sadness to my world. While both starts were on the road, they were against light hitting opponents (Mets and Pirates), yet he couldn’t cash in at all. On the season, Harang has been a perfectly good pitcher at home (2.18 K:BB, 3.45 ERA and 1.28 WHIP) and a perfectly horrid pitcher on the road (1.77 K:BB, 5.19 ERA and 1.79 WHIP). Never start him away.
Joe Saunders – I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop (which means what exactly?) on Saunders for some time now. Perhaps the last seven days (11.1 IPs, 6.35 ERA and 1.94 WHIP) against Houston and the Dodgers portend the end. I’m willing to bet that he has an ERA a lot closer to 5.00 than 4.25 down the stretch — avoid!
Vance Worley – We should probably get out of the National League West for the time being. Despite his impressive start, I hadn’t been overly impressed with Worley and that began to worry me as he piled up quality starts. However, his last week (11 IPs, 6.55 ERA and 1.64 WHIP) give pause to the Worley train. Nevertheless, he did strike out more than a batter an inning and the only bad start was a four-inning outing at the Dodgers. I’m still slightly skeptical though and somewhat surprised by the amount of Ks he is generating (7.34 per nine IPs) given a lack of many swings and misses just 5.8%. He’ll need to miss more bats to maintain his ERA/WHIP pace because he isn’t getting a ton of ground balls, certainly not enough to match his .260 BABIP. I’m worried about Worley and think you should be very careful how you use him.
Jon Niese – Despite striking out 13 batters in 12.2 IPs, Niese posted horrid ratios over the last week (4.97 ERA and 1.66 WHIP). The Braves did a lot of damage against the young Southpaw, but, let’s not let that take away from a nice step forward. Niese looks to be a fine pitcher, a high-end match-ups guy who has a great 3.00 K:BB rate and generates enough ground balls to be effective across a full season. I like Niese down the stretch and over the next few years.
Adam Lind – Lind has been putrid lately (5/26 over the last seven days; eight for his last 47; and 20 for his last 102). After batting .300 over the first half, the second half of the year has been terrible: .196/.234/.324. I still think the power is there and see him hitting 7 – 10 more homers – but I‘m not as optimistic that his average can be above .270. Somewhere in the .260 range seems reasonable, but he’s got to get back on track.