The Cubs finally called up first baseman Anthony Rizzothis week, much to relief of the Triple-A pitchers he was absolutely torching. But the key question in the minds of fantasy owners is this: will things be different for Rizzo at Wrigley than they were last season when he was called up by the Padres?
It's hard to forget that Rizzo bombed pretty hard last season following his callup. Rizzo hit just .141 with 1 home run and 9 RBI. He struck out 30.1 percent of the time, while walking just 13.7 percent. All this conspired to give him an OBP of .281 and a slugging percentage of .242 as well as a one-way ticket back to the minors. In the offseason the Padres sent Rizzo packing to the Windy City, leading some to question whether they had lost faith in the once prized prospect.
But, he was stellar at Triple-A again this season, hitting .342 with 23 homers and 48 RBI in 70 games. He also was able to cut down on his strikeout rate, seeing it drop to 18.3 percent, and saw his OBP (.405) and slugging percentage (.696) move in a positive direction. Some of that could be attributed to the fact he was facing Triple-A pitching, but it also seems to indicate he made adjustments following his struggles in San Diego.
At this point I'm willing to roll the dice and give Rizzo another chance. He's only owned in 44 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so it likely won't cost you anything but a roster spot. The upside is too great to give up on the kid already, especially considering he is going to play in a much more hitter-friendly environment at Wrigley. I may not be as enthusastic about Rizzo as I was last year, but I'm willing to take a risk and see if a change of scenery will lead to a different result.
Andrew Cashner made his first start of the season for the Padres on Thursday and he showed he could be an interesting pitcher to watch in the second half.
Cashner can throw straight heat, and he carried a no-hitter into seventh inning against the Astros, finishing with a line of 6 1/3 innings pitched, two earned runs allowed and nine strikeouts. He went 2-0 at Double-A with a 1.88 ERA 14.4 strikeout per nine rate and a 1.88 walk per nine rate while he was being stretched out. Control can be somewhat of an issue (1.33 WHIP on the season in the Majors), but at 12 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues he could come in handy for a team looking for a quick infusion of strikeouts.
Tough news for Evan Longoria owners: based on comments by Rays manager Joe Maddonit looks as though it still could be a while yet before we see Longoria on the diamond again.
Longoria was pulled from his minor league rehab assignment last week after feeling discomfort in his left hamstring and Maddon told the media on Thursday that, "I don't think we're going to see a whole lot of advancement right now in the near future."
As a disappointed Longoria owner, that is not what I wanted to hear. As far as replacements go, it's slim pickings, but surprisingly Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates has shown some signs of life of late. He has hit .356 with six home runs and 11 RBI in the last 14 days and is widely available, owned in just 29 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Also take a look at
Chris Nelson of the Rockies, who is hitting .348 with three homers and 12 RBI over the last 14 days, is owned in just 9 percent of Yahoo! leagues and has second and third base eligibility.
For those of you who drafted Ryan Howard late in drafts and have been patiently waiting for him to return to the field, there is good news.
The Phillies first baseman began his rehab assignment on Thursday night, going 2-for-4 with three RBI while serving as a DH. He also just missed a home run, settling instead for a sac fly.
Also beginning rehab assignments this week were Red Sox outfielders Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury.