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Saturday, June 7, 2008
Week 11 BBC Preview

By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN.com

For the inside scoop on Week 11, be sure to also check out my Fantasy Forecaster!

If the Red Sox can find any silver lining to David Ortiz's injury, it's that of all the times for him to get hurt, now was as good as any. They play nine of their next 18 games in National League parks, where they'll lack the designated hitter.

Unfortunately, that does nothing for us Baseball Challenge folks, as for us, Big Papi's absence really couldn't have come at a worse time.

That's because Ortiz, now out for a month with a torn tendon in his wrist, was in the midst of a real tear, batting .313 with 12 home runs, 39 RBIs and a 1.034 OPS in his past 38 games. Despite his dreadful three-week start to the season, he had since charged back into the top 25 in terms of BBC points in a month and a half's time.

But that's not the only reason Ortiz's loss will sting. The other is that he was one of the few productive players at a position markedly thin in talent. Scroll through the list of available designated hitters. Hardly rich in talent, right?

Plus, with interleague play resuming on Friday and extending through June 29, the pickings will indeed be slim at DH. It's one position in the game where there are really only about 10-15 viable options in a normal week, and Week 11 is hardly "normal." Browsing the list in order of BBC price tags, here are the clear "no-gos" for Week 11:

• Ortiz (1st, 6.6 price tag), Frank Thomas (8th, 4.8), Travis Hafner (11th-tied, 4.5), Nick Johnson (11th-tied, 4.5) and Gary Sheffield (12th, 4.1) are all on the DL.

Jack Cust (3rd-tied, 5.3) is seventh among DHs in BBC points (175), but his team plays three in a National League park (San Francisco). And while Cust could play ahead of left fielder Emil Brown, keep in mind two of those three will be against left-handers. Brown, by the way, hasn't sat any of Oakland's 22 games against southpaws.

Billy Butler (14th-tied, 4.0) and Elliot Johnson (14th-tied, 4.0) are in the minors, and Jeff Larish (14th-tied, 4.0) really should be, too.

Jason Kubel (14th-tied, 4.0) didn't start a single game for the Twins when they played in Colorado May 16-18, and they'll play in Milwaukee this weekend.

So, among viable DH options, here are your best bets from a weak crop:

Ryan Ludwick (2nd, 5.6) is far and away your top choice, but just to throw this out there: He's hitting .178 with a .452 OPS in his past 12 games. In his favor: He has four homers and a 1.123 OPS in seven career games at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, where the Cardinals play Tuesday-Thursday, and a .336 hitter with a 1.060 OPS against right-handers this season. His Cardinals, incidentally, face six righty starters.

Hideki Matsui (3rd-tied, 5.3) is fourth at the position in BBC points (187), but his Yankees play three in Houston, where they'll lack the DH. Sure, he could play left field, but Johnny Damon is playing too well for Matsui to play all three in the field.

Jim Thome (7th, 5.0) seems to be finding his power stroke with five homers in his past 16 games, but it's a concern that his White Sox face five left-handed starters in their seven contests. He's a .220/.719 hitter against that side in his White Sox career.

Jorge Cantu (6th, 5.1) has been a mild surprise, but since April 23 he's hitting .247 with seven homers and a .731 OPS in 39 games, cooling off considerably. The one thing in his favor is that he might be motivated to show his old team, the Rays, what they gave up on when he battles them in a weekend series in Tampa Bay.

Aubrey Huff (5th, 5.2) suffers the misfortune of battling four left-handed starters in six games, and he's a .227 hitter with a .605 OPS against that side this season. At least he hits the Pirates well, with .341/.991 rates in 13 career games.

• I can't go with either Dodger, Juan Pierre (9th, 4.7) or Andre Ethier (10th, 4.6), as they're both left-handed hitters. Their team draws three southpaw starters in six games, and three of those games come at San Diego's Petco Park. Ugh.

Best pitching staffs

The Indians might have surrendered 39 total runs in four games at Texas' Rangers Ballpark this past week, but back home, their chances at success are far greater. As a team their ERA at home is 3.48, and their starters' ERA is 3.77, fifth-best in baseball. Plus, look at their opponents: The Twins, whom they held to five runs and 23 hits in a three-game series in Minnesota April 18-20, and the Padres, who sport the game's third-worst team OPS (.681). Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia are the Indians' two-start pitchers, so they're my choice.

So-so Week 9 aside, the Diamondbacks aren't a pitching staff to fear in Week 11, and that's in spite of a three-game trip to New York to battle the Mets. Why's that? Look who two of their scheduled starters are for that series: Brandon Webb, 2-1 with an 0.31 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in four career starts at Shea Stadium, on Wednesday; and Dan Haren, who held the Mets to two runs on three hits in six innings on May 4, on Thursday.

Daily dips

Jermaine Dye (White Sox, RF, 5.4 price tag) is a lifetime .406 hitter (13-for-32) with five home runs and a 1.563 OPS against the Tigers' Nate Robertson (his Tuesday opponent). He's also a .291 hitter with an .876 OPS in 23 home games this season.

Adrian Beltre (Mariners, 3B, 5.8) is a lifetime .600 hitter (6-for-10) with two doubles and two homers against the Blue Jays' Shaun Marcum (his Wednesday opponent). He's also a .280/.941 hitter in 19 career games at Toronto's Rogers Centre.

Jason Giambi (Yankees, 1B, 5.2) is 3-for-4 with two homers lifetime against the Athletics' Justin Duchscherer (his Wednesday opponent). He's also a .260 hitter (20-for-77) with five homers and 16 RBIs in 21 games at Oakland's McAfee Coliseum since 2002.

Rick Ankiel (Cardinals, RF, 5.1) is 4-for-9 with two homers and a 1.666 OPS lifetime against the Reds' Bronson Arroyo (his Thursday opponent).

Rickie Weeks (Brewers, 2B, 5.5) is 4-for-8 with two homers and a 1.975 OPS lifetime against the Astros' Brian Moehler (his Thursday opponent).

My Week 11 lineup

Total points: 2,973 (through Friday).
Percentage: 100.0. Overall rank: 3rd.
Ranking in Fantasy Editorial Group: 2nd.

Pos.PlayerTeamPointsLockMkt.Diff.
C Geovany SotoCubs2004.55.81.3
1B Mark TeixeiraBraves2155.55.80.3
2B Chase UtleyPhillies2965.77.21.5
3B Alex RodriguezYankees1555.55.80.3
SS Jhonny PeraltaIndians1674.74.90.2
LF David DellucciIndians1283.43.4--
CF Josh HamiltonRangers2914.87.12.3
RF J.D. DrewRed Sox1774.84.8--
DH Ryan LudwickCardinals2185.65.6--
PCleveland Indians staff6855.05.0--
Pos.: Player position; Points: Year-to-date points earned in BBC (through June 6); Lock: Price locked in on my roster; Mkt.: Current market price; Diff.: Difference in price.

Picking the Indians' staff is only part of my heavy-on-Indians strategy in Week 11; Jhonny Peralta remains in my lineup and David Dellucci replaces Luke Scott in left field. It's not that Dellucci is a standout choice, but in order to fill a lineup, sometimes you need to go cheap at one spot, right? He gets the call thanks to a seven-game week for the Indians, five of those coming against right-handed starters. He's a .313 hitter with three homers, 10 RBIs and a 1.124 OPS in his past 11 games, and a .248/.789 hitter against righties for the year.

J.D. Drew is the other new addition, thanks in part to his .390 batting average (16-for-41), three homers and 10 RBIs in his past 14 contests. He's also a .342 hitter with two homers and a .998 OPS in 12 career games at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park.

Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.