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Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Baseball Challenge: Segment 2 starts up with short week

By AJ Mass
ESPN.com

Sorry, Robinson Cano, but the home run derby is already a fading memory. It's time to get back to baseball that counts as we enter the second segment of ESPN's Baseball Challenge. The All-Star break is a great time for players to recharge their batteries, and your regular Baseball Challenge guide, Mike Sheets, is doing that as well, so I'll be filling in for the first few legs of this segment.

With only one series to make things happen, and the opportunity for managers to mix up the rotations and lineups, we'll keep things pretty close to the vest for the short term. We'll grab as many of the players we recently ranked near the top of our second-half rankings and save the matchup game for later on.

With that said, here's our Week 15 lineup:

Week 15 lineup for July 14-17

C: Eli Whiteside, San Francisco Giants (@SD-4), 3.1 market price: Let's face it, we're tanking the catcher spot to pay for the guys we want in all the other roster spots. So sue us! Whiteside did just have a seven-point game against the San Diego Padres on July 7, so perhaps lightning will strike twice.

1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (CWS-3), 5.1 market price: Yes, when Cabrera was pulled after one at-bat in the All-Star Game for precautionary measures after he felt something in his side, we considered swapping him out, but with him hitting .364 against the Chicago White Sox so far in 2011, we held firm and will hope for the best.

2B: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees (@TOR-4), 4.8 market price: The Home Run Derby winner gets to start the second half in Toronto at the Rogers Centre, currently ranked third in terms of easiest ballparks to send one deep. With a hunch that Cano might try and continue to swing for the bleachers, we'll ride his momentum.

3B: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays (NYY-4), 5.5 market price: Bautista was able to get 15 total bases in two of his last three series, and has an OPS of 1.146 against the current Yankees staff. Why wouldn't we want to give the first-half scoring leader at third base a shot out of the gate?

SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies (MIL-4), 4.8 market price: He played in the Midsummer Classic, so we're no longer concerned about that injured leg, and he gets to start the second-half of 2011 with a team against which he has a lifetime batting average of .430.

LF: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers (COL-4), 5.2 market price: There's certainly a chance that he will miss yet another game or two with that darned calf problem, but before the injury, from June 24 to July 2, he got at least three points for his Baseball Challenge owners. With the long rest, we'll bet on him being healthy and productive.

CF: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers (@ARI-3), 5.4 market price: Kemp has batted .306 with five home runs and 14 RBIs in 33 games at Chase Field, so even though he looked lost at the plate in San Diego before the break, we expect a return to the Kemp we know as he attempts to shake of the stink of his poor Derby performance.

RF: Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks (LAD-3), 4.9 market price: Forget the .205 batting average in July thus far. All of those came on the road, and at the back end of a stretch where he played 16 out of 19 games away from Arizona. Upton will be back at home where he's hitting .352 this season, and that should make all the difference.

DH: Michael Young, Texas Rangers (@SEA-4), 4.7 market price: Young is a lifetime .304 hitter against the Seattle Mariners, including 7-for-21 this season. Sure, we probably would have rather had David Ortiz at this spot, but you have to cut corners somewhere, and in this case, I don't think it's too drastic a dropoff.

Pitching Staff: Philadelphia Phillies (@NYM-3), 6.5 market price: With the New York Mets going without Jose Reyes and David Wright, and no longer with K-Rod around to come in and to help shut down the opposition, even if Vance Worley and/or Kyle Kendrick end up pitching in this short series, the chances of a Citi Field sweep by the visitors is pretty good.

Total Salary: $50.0 million, $0.0 remaining

AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. His book, "How Fantasy Sports Explains the World" will be released in August. You can e-mail him here.

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