Fantasy Baseball: Batter stock watch

Fantasy Baseball: Batter stock watch

Buy

Will Venable, OF, Padres: We can't promise the batting average will be playable, though Venable has hit .282 in the second half. We're in this story for the category juice (two homers, 10 steals over those 34 games) and the solid run production, especially when the Padres are on the road. He seems to like the No. 2 slot in the order, where he carries a .348.430.565 line over 22 starts. Consider Venable as a possible sleeper for 2013 as well, especially if San Diego finally moves in the Petco Park fences.

Scott Podsednik, OF, Red Sox: He's 36 and he didn't even play in the majors last year, but he's shown decent skills in a limited period with Boston (.375.402.458 over 96 at-bats, seven steals). While Bobby Valentine's crew is one of the most disappointing teams in the majors, don't blame the offense - the Red Sox are second in runs, trailing only Texas. Podsednik's playing time is secure now that Carl Crawford is down for the year.

Tyler Colvin, 1BOF, Rockies: It's been a challenge to keep him in the lineup all year - manager Jim Tracy is a serial tinkerer - but Colvin's spot is finally safe with Todd Helton and Michael Cuddyer on the DL. Colvin's strikeout rate is a little worrisome, but nonetheless he's given us a .294 average in part-time duty, with decent power (14 homers) and speed (seven steals). And while Coors Field is driving most of the story, Colvin isn't a pumpkin on the road (.272 average, .476 slugging).

Sell

Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays: He's fallen into some bad mechanics at the plate, swinging too early in the count and getting himself out against lefties. It adds up to a .176.228.280 slash over 32 games in the second half, with a measly three homers. Perhaps the presence of Jose Bautista will help in September - Rasmus was crushing the ball earlier in the year, in front of Joey Bats - though every numerical study about batter protection fails to validate the theory.

Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics: His plate discipline has collapsed in the second half, leading to an ugly .204.248.367 line, and he's also shown less aggressiveness on the bases. The A's still love Reddick for his right-field defense and his intensity, but perhaps he'd not best suited for the No. 3 spot in the lineup. An ongoing battle with a troublesome tooth may also play into Reddick's slump - maybe the recent fixing of that problem will go a long way towards fixing the offensive production. But if you can sell the overall stats on face value, you'll likely be overpaid in return.

Hold

Pedro Ciriaco, Utility, Red Sox: His minor-league profile is pedestrian and he's walked just two times compared to 23 strikeouts in The Show, but Ciriaco has his plus points, too (.344 average, eight steals, bats leadoff some of the time). And if you're limited in your bench spots or pickups, consider the utility that Ciriaco offers: he covers second, shortstop and third base in Yahoo! standard leagues. And like we discussed with Podsednik above, Ciriaco gets the undertow of Boston's lineup to help him out.

David Murphy, OF, Rangers: He's finally figured out a path against lefties, while he's continuing to crush righties like normal. And Murphy has always been a monster in Arlington: this year he's a .366.440.571 overlord in front of the home folks. Being in the most prolific lineup in the majors is another plus point. Enjoy the ride.

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Why Mack Brown's performance makes Redskins' roster choices even more difficult

Why Mack Brown's performance makes Redskins' roster choices even more difficult

TAMPA—Just when it looked like the Redskins had their running back situation settled, Mack Brown put it back into turmoil.

After rookie Keith Marshall was put on injured reserve earlier this week, it looked like the Redskins would carry three running backs in starter Matt Jones, third-down back Chris Thompson, and backup Robert Kelley.

But that was before Brown ran all over a soggy Raymond James Stadium, racking up 149 yards on 19 carries.

Included was a 60-yard touchdown run. Early in the second quarter Brown found some space up off of left guard, broke a few tackles and accelerated through the secondary and into the end zone.

MORE REDSKINS: BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM PRESEASON FINALE

But it wasn’t like he didn’t do much outside of the long run. If you subtract the long TD he still averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

“Mack made some big plays. I think he did 'show up',” said head coach Jay Gruden.

Did Mack make a case for the Redskins to carry four running backs? Of course that would mean they would have to trim someone at another position and that’s not something a team can always afford to do. The process of finalizing the list of who stays and who goes will start on Thursday.

“We'll get together with the coaching staff and Scot's staff and we'll figure it out,” said Gruden. “There's a lot of guys who stated there case tonight and I'm happy to see that.”

The fact that they will have to agonize over players like Brown is a good sign.

“The harder these decisions are, the better your roster is,” said Gruden.

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Another quality start, but another Orioles loss

Another quality start, but another Orioles loss

BALTIMORE—As August ends, it’s harder and harder to imagine the Orioles as a postseason team. Throughout the first five months of the season, the Orioles would have been a postseason team had the season ended on that day. 

After losing two of three to the American League East leading Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles are not only four games in back of Toronto, but they’re now tied with Detroit for the second wild card. 

They ended August with a 13-16 record thanks to a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays before 16,161 at Oriole Park on Wednesday. 

The Orioles (72-61) received three quality starts in their critical three-game series against Toronto (76-57). They lost two of those games. 

Not only was the result disappointing, but so were the crowds. The series drew just 47,775. 

In the latest installment, Yovani Gallardo allowed three runs in the first inning, then pitched well, but the Orioles could do little with Aaron Sanchez and the bullpen. 

“It’s tough, because we’re chasing them and they take two out of the three. We’ve just got to learn from it, get a good off-day tomorrow and come back stronger than we were. With September coming in, we’ve just got to compete and play hard and try to win as many games as possible,” Jonathan Schoop said. 

On Monday, Wade Miley gave up three runs in seven innings in a 5-1 loss, and Ubaldo Jimenez also allowed three in 6 2/3 innings as the Orioles won 5-3.

“I was really impressed with that, really proud of them. But it’s tough. It’s kind of frustrating. We’ve got some quality starting pitching and we were in them. The tack-on runs were tough,” Showalter said. 

Jose Bautista hit Gallardo’s first pitch for his 17th home run, and with two outs, Michael Saunders walked, and Russell Martin hit his 16th home run, and Toronto grabbed a 3-0 lead. 

Gallardo (4-7), who was won just one of 12, settled down and retired the last 10 batters he faced. He allowed three runs on five hits in six innings. 

“The first inning, the first pitch of the game, they took advantage of it,” Gallardo said.

“The one to Russell Martin, I didn’t think he got it that good. Unfortunately, it went out. It was just one of those things that was frustrating. It’s never easy for those guys to come from behind, especially in the first inning, giving up three runs in the first inning. After that I was able to put up zeroes, put up zeroes and make pitches whenever I had to, get some ground balls, get out of some tough jams.” 

Sanchez (13-2) allowed just two singles and walked two runners in the first four innings. 

With two outs in the fifth, Hyun Soo Kim and Schoop singled with Kim taking third. Manny Machado hit a slow roller to third that Josh Donaldson booted for an error. 

The Blue Jays had sent Sanchez to the minor leagues for 10 days to limit his innings. 

He allowed just the unearned run on five hits in six innings.

Mychal Givens allowed a run in the seventh on an RBI double by Devon Travis, and Saunders hit his 23rd home run of the year against Brad Brach in the eighth. It was Saunders’ seventh home run in 15 games against the Orioles this season. 

Schoop’s 21st home run of the year, a two-run shot off Roberto Osuna with two outs in the ninth made it 5-3.  

The Orioles have now lost five consecutive series to AL East opponents, and 22 of their final 28 are against their division foes. The losing troubles Showalter. 

“Of course it does. We got a month of baseball left. We got through a tough, we knew August was going to be tough, did some good things but not as many as we would have liked. We got an opportunity. A lot of baseball to be played. Anybody who sells us short doesn’t get the essence of our players. That’s fine. They’ve been doing that all year to us,” Showalter said. 

NOTES:  The Orioles hit 55 home runs in August, tying the major league record for most home runs in the month. … After Thursday’s off day, the New York Yankees come for three games beginning Friday night. Chad Green (2-3, 4.09) faces Dylan Bundy (7-5, 3.71) in the first game. On Saturday, it will be CC Sabathia (8-11, 4.31) against Kevin Gausman (6-10, 3.73). Michael Pineda (6-11, 5.12) against Miley (8-11, 5.43) on Sunday. 

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Bourn, Stubbs to join Orioles on Friday

Bourn, Stubbs to join Orioles on Friday

BALTIMORE—The Orioles will have two new outfielders when they play the New York Yankees on Friday. 

Michael Bourn was acquired on Wednesday night from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league outfielder Jason Heinrich, and Drew Stubbs was claimed off release waivers from Texas earlier in the day. 

Adam Jones has missed the past five games because of a strained left hamstring, and in case he’s unable to play then, the Orioles have insurance. 

Nolan Reimold has played center field in the last four games. 

After Wednesday night’s game, manager Buck Showalter said that he liked the addition of Bourn.

“Just all-around, can play all three positions. Left-handed, veteran guy who knows his way around. Got a great reputation as a teammate and professional and brings some things we are in need of and have been for a while with Adam,” Showalter said. 

“I am hoping he is ready to play Friday but we got to prepare for if he isn’t. And Nolan has done a serviceable job for us, but it’s a place we would like to be better at if possible. And he and Stubbs have a lot of experience there.” 

Joey Rickard was placed on the 60-day disabled list, and because he won’t be available until late September, if at all because of his thumb injury, they needed a good defensive outfielder. 

Because of the addition of the two outfielders, it’s now questionable whether the Orioles will add Dariel Alvarez or Christian Walker, the only two outfielders at Norfolk who are on the 40-man roster. 

Rosters expand from 25 to 40 at midnight Wednesday, and beyond catcher Caleb Joseph and the two new acquisitions, there aren’t many certainties for additions. 

Showalter indicated that Brian Duensing, who is on the 60-day disabled list, will be added shortly, but a 40-man spot must be cleared. 

Another spot would have to be created if the Orioles decide to add an organizational favorite, infielder Paul Janish. 

The Orioles can recall pitchers Parker Bridwell, Odrisamer Despainge and Tyler Wilson because they’ve been at Norfolk for at least 10 days. 

T.J. McFarland and Mike Wright would have to wait until Norfolk’s season ends on Monday to be recalled.