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"And then there was one ..."
Like a character in an Agatha Christie mystery, Ryan Doumit is probably looking around the Pirates' clubhouse right now and wondering to himself how he has survived.
On Wednesday, Pittsburgh made two trades. First it sent Jack Wilson and Ian Snell to Seattle for Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno and three minor-leaguers, and then marched Freddy Sanchez to the other dugout after its game in San Francisco ended and told him to stay there. The All-Star second baseman was dealt to the Giants for pitching prospect Tim Alderson. (Check out Eric Karabell's fantasy spin on the Snell/Wilson deal and Jason Grey's take on the Freddy Sanchez trade.)
That means that of the nine players in Pittsburgh's Opening Day lineup in 2008, only Doumit remains with the club. In addition to the three players moved Wednesday, Nate McLouth is now in Atlanta, Adam LaRoche has joined Jason Bay in Boston, Xavier Nady is on the Yankees' disabled list and Jose Bautista was sent to Toronto last August.
It seems that the Pirates have simply become "everybody's farm team" -- a one-stop shop for any and all late-season needs. While this near-complete clean house of the roster might be incredibly frustrating for any Pirates fans who haven't yet jumped ship, from a fantasy standpoint, it is actually a great opportunity for you to emulate big league owners by stocking your bench spots with Pirates.
Delwyn Young (0.4 percent ownership in ESPN Standard Leagues) is hitting .316 on the season and likely will take most of Sanchez's second base duties from this point forward. Garrett Jones (39 percent) has 10 home runs in his first 24 games, and is hitting .323 this year, while fellow outfielder Andrew McCutchen (35 percent) is hitting .302 against left-handed pitching. ... First baseman Steve Pearce (0.3 percent) is bound to improve on his .194 July batting average. After al,l he has yet to play in Pittsburgh this month, with all his 12 appearances coming on the road. Cut him some slack. ... Even with the arrival of light-hitting Cedeno, Ramon Vazquez (0.1 percent) may get a touch more playing time at shortstop, especially since he has averaged one run and one RBI every 10 at-bats this season. Not bad for a guy who has only averaged 2.15 at-bats per appearance.
And Lastings but certainly not least is Lastings Milledge, who should be in the Pirates lineup shortly, will move Young to a regular role in the infield. Milledge is already owned in 44.5 percent of leagues, as his owners have simply been biding their time, waiting for his return to the majors and a return of his power/speed potential.
Yes, the Pirates may not have had a winning season since 1992, but you might be able to use a few of their remaining pieces to have some success of your own. From a fantasy standpoint, this cupboard is far from bare.
• The Mets and Rockies were rained out on Wednesday and will play a day-night doubleheader on Thursday. Johan Santana starts against Jason Hammel in Game 1, with Jon Niese going up against Jorge De La Rosa as previously planned for Game 2.
• Joel Pineiro versus Clayton Kershaw. Not exactly the names you probably thought would have been involved in a must-see matchup when this season started, but nevertheless, they were. Pineiro threw eight-innings of one-run, six-hit ball against the Dodgers, but was still outdone by Kershaw, who struck out seven and allowed only four hits in eight shutout innings. Of course, when Jonathon Broxton blew the save in the ninth, neither hurler factored into the decision. The game ended up going 15 innings before Albert Pujols ended it with a walk-off RBI single to cap a 3-for-7 night. James Loney and Casey Blake went a combined 7-for-12 in the loss.
• Who are you and what have you done with Yusmeiro Petit? Shutting out the Phillies for six innings? Striking out eight batters? Winning a game? Petit bested J.A. Happ, 4-0, as the Phillies' pitcher dropped his second-straight decision. Shane Victorino bruised his left knee and was forced to leave the game. That could mean Ben Francisco gets playing time sooner than many people expected, though Victorino's injury isn't considered to be that serious.
• Two Curtis Granderson home runs in the first two innings gave Justin Verlander a big head start towards his 12th win of the season against the Rangers on Wednesday. Verlander struck out 13 Texas hitters and didn't walk a single-batter, but he did allow one of Andruw Jones' two home runs on the night. Still, the Tigers offense came through with 19 hits off Scott Feldman and company as Detroit won 13-5.
• Brett Anderson is on fire, especially against the Red Sox. The A's pitcher beat Boston at Fenway Park for the second time this month, and improved to 3-1 with a 1.85 ERA in his past six starts. Anderson struck out eight and allowed only four hits, though he did walk four batters in six innings. Kurt Suzuki extended his hit streak to nine games by going 2-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored for the A's in a 8-6 victory.
• Joba RULES! Mr. Chamberlain is now 7-2 on the season after throwing eight scoreless innings against the Rays, allowing only three hits in the process. Chamberlain threw 101 pitches on the night, so even if the Yankees hadn't scored twice in the top of the ninth to take 6-0 lead, it seems unlikely Chamberlain would have been given the shot at a shutout.
• This is how it ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Assuming Roy Halladay's time in a Blue Jays uniform is soon to be over, he certainly didn't finish strong. Halladay allowed three runs and 11 hits in seven innings against the Mariners on Wednesday, including a double and a home run by Jose Lopez, in a 3-2 loss. He is now 1-3 in his last five starts.
• A quick injury wrap-up: The White Sox's Alexei Ramirez left Wednesday's game with an ankle injury. He'll definitely miss at least the first game of the Yankees' series. ... Francisco Liriano was scratched from his scheduled Wednesday start after he experienced swelling to his left forearm. Right now, he's expected to only miss the one turn in the rotation. Brian Duensing filled in and threw five fairly non-descript innings. ... Reed Johnson broke his left foot after fouling a pitch off of it Wednesday. The Cubs outfielder will miss about a month. Expect Sam Fuld to get a return trip to Wrigley Field from the minors.
Howie Kendrick, Angels
Since the All-Star break, Kendrick has been playing out of his mind, batting .421 with 11 RBIs in 11 games. Kendrick went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and five RBIs on Wednesday, probably causing all of the Indians who remained on the roster to think to themselves ... "All things considered, we'd rather be in Philadelphia."
Josh Johnson, Marlins
Johnson improved to 10-2 on the season, allowing three runs or fewer in his 18th straight start in a 6-3 win over the Braves. Only Johan Santana (22 straight starts in 2004) has a longer such streak among active pitchers. Not only did Johnson do his job on the mound, but he also earned his victory at the plate by hitting his second three-run home run of the season.
Zach Duke shut out the Giants for seven innings. Matt Cain went nine without allowing the Pirates to score a run. Neither factored in the decision. The game went into extra innings, in which Randy Winn (right) drove home the winning run in the 10th. It was the sixth game this season to finish 0-0 after nine innings of play, and the third such game involving San Francisco. The Giants have won all three of those games, 1-0, in 10 innings. They're the first team to do that three times in a season since the 1976 Astros.
• The Orioles placed Rich Hill on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, and purchased the contract of top prospect Chris Tillman from Triple-A Norfolk to join their rotation in his stead. Tillman's debut against the Royals on Wednesday night wasn't perfect by any means, as he allowed three runs over 4 2/3 innings on three solo home runs. However, the Orioles did eventually win the game thanks to Nick Markakis' RBI single in the seventh.
• Josh Fields had voiced his displeasure with the White Sox's acquisition of Mark Kotsay, so it probably didn't come as a surprise to Fields to learn he was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday. Kotsay got the start at first base for Chicago on Wednesday, and went 0-for-4. The White Sox also placed Bartolo Colon on the 15-day disabled list after the pitcher was unable to take his turn in the rotation.
• Houston has recalled Bud Norris from Triple-A Round Rock, where he was 4-9 with a 2.63 ERA. With Roy Oswalt likely to be on the shelf for an extended period of time, the extra arm should help. Of course, Norris could also replace Mike Hampton in the rotation if the veteran lefty continues to struggle as mightily as he did on Wednesday. Hampton allowed nine runs in four innings to the Cubs and was relieved by Norris, who did somewhat better, holding Chicago to only one additional run over the next three innings.
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Tristan H. Cockcroft: I wonder whether this is his typical second-half swoon rearing its ugly head. He has a career ERA after the All-Star break more than a run higher than before it, and has had a four-plus ERA after the break in each of the past three seasons. This year, it's 3.50 (so far). I'd temper my expectations a little bit, though I won't take Dan Haren out of, let's say, my top 15 starters. And I still probably have him in my top 10 if pressed to rank 'em.
-- Full chat transcript
Eric Karabell: No, he is not, but I seem to be alone in thinking Reynolds might not be a fluke. He did run last season, just not as much. He's always going to strike out, but the power is legit, maybe he hits 35 homers. Stealing bases is generally about wanting to run, not needing to with guys like him. Top 40 player I could see...
-- Full chat transcript
Thursday's fantasy chat schedule:
AJ Mass, 11 a.m. ET
Jason Grey, 3 p.m. ET
• Dodgers' prospect Scott Elbert started this season in Double-A Chattanooga, then was promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque, in large part due to his strikeouts -- he has 106 K's in 86 innings in the minors this season -- and even had two brief stints with Los Angeles as an extra arm out of the pen. He was supposed to start Wednesday for the Isotopes, but was a last-minute scratch, leading to rampant speculation that he was likely to be included in an imminent deal of some sort. Dodgers' general manager Ned Colletti told the Los Angeles Times there was no pending trade involving Elbert, but refused to elaborate any further. So is Elbert hurt? Is he being promoted? Is Colletti not being entirely truthful? We should know soon, as that deadline ticks ever closer.
• Not only is Ichiro Suzuki hitting an even .500 since July 23, but he's also an owner of that same impressive .500 batting average for his career against Texas' Derek Holland.
• Tim Stauffer has pitched well, but he's on the Padres, so the run support just hasn't been there for him. Still with a 2.57 career ERA against the Reds, he might be worth a roll of the dice.
• For more on Thursday's games, check out the MLB Daily Notes.