The Fantasy Report: Beltran on top

Fantasy news and notes

* Jeff Kent will be activated from the 15-day disabled list Monday after experiencing soreness in his left oblique. He’s not 100 percent yet, but it looks like he’s eager to try. Kent is expected to play first base until Nomar Garciaparra returns.

* Bartolo Colon, has tendinitis in his right biceps, also has a partial rotator cuff tear in an exam Friday and will likely miss the rest of the season. Colon’s recent elbow problems were the result of his shoulder, which has bothered him since last year. Rather than undergo surgery, Colón will opt for rehab and could return in September. However, Settler won’t be 100 percent when he returns. “I haven’t received any formal instruction from the medical department yet, but we’ll talk and they’ll have an evaluation,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “I know those things take some time. I guess it’s going to be a long one. And with about seven weeks left in the season, it seems doubtful that he’s going to come back. It would be a tall order for him to come back and pitch this season.”

* Justin Verlander has “fatigue” in his right arm and missed his start Sunday. Has Verlander hit a wall? Well, it’s that time of year when rookie pitchers start to struggle. Verlander, who became the league’s first 14-game winner earlier in the week, has already thrown five more innings (135 1-3) than he did in all of last year. There’s a chance the Verlander will be skipped a few more times before the end of the season, and it’s something Fantasy owners should be aware of.

* Rafael Furcal has extended his hitting streak to 13 games by bunting out one hit on Sunday, then stealing the second. Furcal has been red hot lately. Something the Dodgers have been waiting for a while.

* John Smoltz remains undefeated in his last 10 starts. It’s a shame the Atlanta Braves have struggled for most of the year. Smoltz remains a must-start in all fantasy leagues.

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets left Saturday’s start after one inning because of a strained pectoral muscle. Is this really a surprise for fantasy owners? The leaves that started the year on the disabled list are likely to have a return trip before weeks are out.

* I’ve been bashing Ken Griffey Jr. for the past few weeks because of his lack of hitting since the All-Star break. However, Griffey is starting to warm up, and as long as he’s healthy, he’s a viable option in the outfield.

* Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said Scott Kazmir will pitch again on Friday, Aug. 2. 11 against the Oakland Athletics. Kazmir went on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder inflammation retroactive to July 24.

* Francisco Liriano, who missed a start Wednesday because of a swollen forearm muscle, is scheduled to make his next start Monday at Detroit. This makes Liriano a 2 starting pitcher this week, and he should be ready to pitch in a big game against the Tigers.

* Jim Thome, who has been struggling lately and has been battling back pain, went 2-3 on Sunday and looks like he’s going to be fine. He’s a guy you’ll want to keep a close eye on this week.

* Jose Contreras (10-4) has lost his fourth game in his last five starts. His next start is against the Detroit Tigers. With this rough start, Contreras looks to sit down.

* Derek Jeter has 3 HRs in his last 8 games. Finally, DJ is starting to give his owners some power.

* Alfonso Sorinano hit his eighth leadoff home run of the season to lead the major leagues.

* Francisco Cordero is now Milwaukee’s closer.


weekly planner-11

who shot who didn’t

Ryan Howard, the NL leader in HR, is my pick for this week’s Who’s Hot award. Howard hit .433 with 4 HR, 14 RBI and 5 runs in the last 7 days. It wasn’t as if Howard had done it against the NL background. Howard took his power stick and hit the Florida Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets. Howard, unlike Bobby Abreu, winner of last year’s human resources contest, hasn’t slumped this year. Howard is an exciting player and has limitless potential. He is a must start at 1B.

Fausto Carmona has lost his last four appearances and will likely be dropped from Cleveland’s closer role. While the Cleveland Indians are certainly not going anywhere this season, they can’t afford to keep getting over these kids’ confidence. Giving up game-winning home runs was Carmona’s theme this week. Earlier in the week, Carmona allowed game winners against the Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz, who did what Ortiz does best, hit a game-winning HR. Then, on Saturday, Carmona gives up a game winning two HR runs to Iván Rodríguez. Cleveland needs to make a change to the closer’s role, and Carmona will likely be cut from that role. If you need to make adjustments to your team, do it now and release Carmona.





JD Drew has favorable matchups this week against the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants. When Drew faces the starting Colorado Rockies this week, the 3 starters he faces (Kim, Francis and Jennings), Drew is hitting .452 against them.

Mark Loretta is hitting .333 (19-for-57) in his last 12 games with 9 runs. He will face the Kansas City Royals on the road and then at home against the Baltimore Orioles. The Royals have one of the worst pitching staffs in the majors, while Baltimore is right behind the Royals. Loretta will be setting the table and looking forward to a great week.

Michael Barrett in his last 11 games has 3 HR, 6 RBI and a BA of .302 (13-43). Barrett will be on the road this week in Milwaukee and then in Colorado, both excellent matchups for Barrett. Barrett is a mandatory start this week.

Brandon Phillips has been red hot for the last 2 weeks. Batting .366 (15-41), 3 HRs, 5 RBIs and 6 runs, Phillips is beginning to recapture his early season punch. An excellent option in 2B this week.

Felipe López is becoming a household name in SS. Not only has Lopez hit for power this year, but with his 30 SBs and 70 runs scored this year, Lopez ranks right there with Jose Reyes and Derek Jeter. This week, Lopez faces the Florida Marlins and the New York Mets, two teams he has struggled against. This is Lopez’s statement week, and look for him to have two big series.

Chone Figgins, the table organizer for the Los Angeles Angels has been anything but for the past 2 weeks. Figgins is hitting just .184 (9-for-49), with 5 runs in his last 12 games. Figgins will be on the road this week and will face the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees. Figgins, who can play multiple positions, should find a comfortable spot on his bench.

Brian Giles has been a huge disappointment this year for Fantasy Owners. It won’t be any easier for him this week, either. Giles leaves on the road this week to face the New York Mets and the Houston Astros. In most leagues you can find Giles on the waiver wire, a place where he belongs. If he happens to have him on his list, put him on the bench, or better yet, put him where he belongs, on the waiver wire.

Aubrey Huff finally got his first RBI with the Astros on Saturday night. Huff has struggled since he came over from the Devil Rays. The striped Huff, at some point should come out of his depression, but not this week. Huff faces the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Diego Padres this week, although both series are at home for Huff, until Huff starts to blow up, keep him booked.

Richie Sexson, despite his .221 BA, is still on track for 35 HR and 110 RBI. Most fantasy owners are frustrated with Sexson’s performance this year despite his HR might. Over the past 2 weeks, Sexson is batting .196 (9-for-46), with 5 of those hits coming as HRs. If you’re short on human resources, you have to start with Sexson, because you just don’t know when he’s going to cut one. My thought, Sexson is a fantasy gimmick, and he would try to find a better option if possible.

Pedro Feliz has been struggling a lot in recent weeks. His BA of .167 (7-42) in his last 11 games is an indication of how bad Feliz has been. Feliz will be on the road this week in Arizona and Los Angeles, two teams he has had moderate success against. Put Happy on the bench this week, you’ll thank me later.

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