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Friday, June 4, 2010
Baseball Challenge: Week 10

By AJ Mass
ESPN.com

Welcome back for Week 10 of the Baseball Challenge. June is here, and with it comes to onset of the Atlantic hurricane season. That means a lot more wet weather on the East Coast. That's something you may want to consider when selecting your lineups as we go forward. The last thing you want to do, especially with a weekly entry, is to get stuck with a player or players who suddenly end up with one or more extra unscheduled days off than you had planned. Of course, you're never going to be able to prevent the injury bug from grabbing hold of you, and as Mike Cameron proved to me last week, just because a player has already been on the disabled list, that doesn't mean he won't be finding his way back to the sidelines again. I only wish it hadn't taken place so quickly.

Thanks to the Cameron goose egg, and a very limited Thursday schedule, my team has fallen below the 50th percentile for the first time all season. The complete tale of woe:

Points through games of Thursday, June 3: 2,199; Rank: 43,677; Percentile: 46.9

But there's no crying in baseball, unless you're an umpire who gets an unexpectedly classy round of applause from the Detroit crowd. As such, the challenge continues for my roster of ragtag fighting machines. However, drastic times call for drastic measures, and I'm turning to a "stars and scrubs" strategy for Week 10 in the hopes that the team get back over the halfway hump faster than you can say Darnell McDonald is starting for the Boston Red Sox.

Here then, in all of its glory, is the Week 10 Baseball Challenge lineup. Cower in fear!

AJ's Week 10 Lineup for June 7 through June 13

C: George Kottaras, Milwaukee Brewers (CHC-3, TEX-3), 4.2 market price: With two home runs in his past five games, Kottaras has taken full advantage of Gregg Zaun going on the disabled list. Those in the market for a cheap catcher with a little bit of pop need look no further.

1B: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (@LAD-3, @ARI-3), 5.8: One of the stars, obviously, Pujols' average actually dipped to .299 on May 29. So what did he do in his next few games? Just go on a little 8-for-14 run to get back up to .318 for the season. That's what stars do.

2B: Reid Brignac, Tampa Bay Rays (TOR-3, FLA-3), 4.1: As of this writing, he has hits in seven of his past eight games. With Jason Bartlett looking likely to hit the disabled list with a bad hamstring, the opportunity for continued play, at least for one more week -- which is all I'm interested in -- is certainly there for the taking.

3B: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (@BAL-3, HOU-3), 6.0: Our second star, who recently rode an 8-for-17 streak to get his average up to .300 for the season for the first time since April 24. It's time for my team to stop sparing A-Rod in the hopes that my total points will not be spoiled any longer.

SS: Jason Donald, Cleveland Indians (BOS-4, WAS-3), 4.0: Watch out, Joe DiMaggio! Fine, maybe not. But with the most famous safe call in baseball history resulting in a hit for the shortstop, as of Friday morning, Donald has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games.

LF: Fred Lewis, Toronto Blue Jays (@TB-3, @COL-3), 4.2: Has anyone else noticed that Lewis is hitting .310 on the season and in the midst of an eight-game hitting streak? Good. Let's hope it stays that way, and I'm the only one who reaps the benefits.

CF: Scott Hairston, San Diego Padres (@PHI-1, @NYM-3, SEA-3), 3.5: Hairston's bat was just starting to come around when he hit the disabled list with a bad hamstring. He's back in action now, and while there's a little bit of fear that this might be the second straight week of claiming a player too soon after a return from injury, Hairston is certainly the right price if we're right.

RF: Hunter Pence, Houston Astros (@COL-4, NYY-3), 4.7: Maybe he's not quite a "star," but with a .395 batting average since May 23, he's certainly back to playing like one. Plus, he gets a four-game set in Colorado to possibly get his home run count to double digits.

DH: Jose Guillen, Kansas City Royals (@MIN-3, @CIN-3), 5.3: Guillen is hitting 53 points higher on the road, yet with an equal number of home runs. That tells me that when Jose is "not in Kansas" anymore, it's time to hitch a ride with him in the hopes that some magical Technicolor stuff starts to happen.

Pitching staff: New York Mets (SD-3, @BAL-3), 6.1: This is the one interleague series in which Mets fans can look forward to some success, thanks to a .245 team batting average from the Birds. Add in a double dose of Mike Pelfrey, and there's a lot to like from the Gothamites, for Week 10 anyway.

Total salary: 48.8 million, 1.2 remaining

Week 10 Crib Sheet

Home Cooking: Whether it's BBQ on the menu or the standard fare, these teams certainly won't have far to travel to find their favorite eateries. These are the Week 10 teams that may find it far more filling to feast on the visiting pitching: Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers.

Frequent Flyers: Weather may well play a role for more teams than usual as three dome squads take to the open air for Week 10. Here are your road warriors for the next seven days: Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals.

Lucky Sevens: Plenty of extra at-bats to be found this week. So many, in fact, that we almost considered putting down the names of the teams NOT scheduled to play seven games in Week 10. Here are the teams seeing extra action this week: Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants.

AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can follow AJ on Twitter or e-mail him here.