Sports Outside the Beltway

Fantasy Report 6/2

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There are some new firemen in town. That’s right, there are some teams that have shook things up with the benching and promotion of relievers and a trade that has allowed a veteran his first shot at closing.

Matt Capps , PIT – The Pittsburgh Pirates have demoted incumbent closer Solomon Torres and have inserted 23 year old fireballer Matt Capps. This move, in my opinion, should’ve been made in spring traing but the Pirates wanted to see Capps in a setup role a little longer. Now that Capps has the job, don’t look for him to lose it. He had impressive numbers too: 3.03 ERA, a team high 30 appearances, .239 opponents average, 24/6 SO/BB ratio (only 4 were intentional) in 29 1/3 innings. “I’m excited, anxious and ready for this opportunity. I’ve been waiting for it,” said Capps. And you should jump on him if he’s still available in your league.

Armando Benitez, FLA – Benitez, if you haven’t heard, got traded to the Marlins for nothing and the Giants are paying $4.7M of his $5M salary. What does this mean for the Marlins? They got themselves a cheap veteran that can be a very good setup man. That’s right, he’s nothing more than a setup man, for now. Kevin Gregg will still get the saves. What does this mean for the Giants?

Brad Hennessey, SF – Hennessey is your new Giants closer. Don’t get all bothered about worrying if Tim Lincecum will get moved to the closer’s role because he won’t. Hennessey has done well in the pen with a 2.82 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. He closed out a game in Shea the other night with no problems. Don’t worry about others taking the job from him, it’s his to lose.

Troy Percival, Free Agent – This is a long shot but he could get opportunities in as little as a week. The Philles, Tigers (did you see Todd Jones give up 5 runs in the 9th to lose last night?), Cardinals, and a few others have shown interest. Monitor him because he very well could be a dud.

- Josh Hamilton is returning to the Reds lineup on Tuesday. He hit 3 homers off of 3 lefties in his rehab assignment in AAA.

- Rickie Weeks hit the DL 2 days ago (big surprise!).

- Nick Johnson took on-the-field batting practice yesterday and there is no timetable for his return. He will need 30 at-bats or so in the minors for his rehab assignment.

- The Rays designated pitcher Jae Seo for assignment and optioned pitcher Jae Kuk Ryu. To take their places they recalled pitcher J.P Howell from Durham and purchased the contract of pitcher Andy Sonnanstine from Durham. Howell will probably start Sunday and Sonnanstine Tuesday. Look for Sonnanstine to stay for a long time.

- The Royals have benched CF David DeJesus. He is in an 0-13 funk and hit only .211 in May. “He needs a break,” said manager Buddy Bell. He isn’t the only Royal slumping entering the TB series: Mike Sweeney 0-15, Emil Brown 0-14, Esteban German 0-11, John Buck 1-18, and Alex Gordon 2-21.

- Cardinals 3B Scott Rolen left Friday’s game before the third inning with a right hamstring strain and is believed to be day-to-day. Rolen grounded out in the second inning before heading to the trainer’s room before the home third.

- Tigers DH Gary Sheffield and Padres catcher Josh Bard were each suspended 3 games for confrontations with umpires.

- White Sox CF Darin Erstad was placed on the DL. The White Sox called up OF Jerry Owens in his place.

- Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey made his Major League debut yesterday throwing 99 pitches in 6 innings while allowing only one run on 5 hits and 2 walks and striking out 3. Some liken Slowey to former Twin Brad Radke but I think he’s more of a James Shields type. Look into acquiring him in your free agent market.

- The A’s activated CF Mark Kotsay from the 60-day DL.

- Joe Mauer wil be sent out for rehab to make sure his injury is fine.

- The Rangers activated Kevin Millwood from the DL.

- Rockies OF Matt Holliday (head contusion) and Mets CF Carlos Beltran (knee) are listed as day-to-day.

- It has been 11 at-bats (13 plate appearances, if you include two walks) since J.D. Drew last hit a ball out of the infield, and that does not include a single infield hit. Just ground outs and popouts. To make it worse, Drew left the game after the fifth inning with a strained right hamstring last night. To make matters even worse 3B Mike Lowell also left the game with a left hand contusion after being hit in the back of the hand by a pitch from Chien-Ming Wang in the third. Lowell’s injury looks to be day-to-day but Drew’s could be worse. Keep your ears open.

- On a side note: The Rays met MLB’s deadline Thursday to request a name and uniform change. The changes will be unveiled after the season, perhaps coinciding with the Bucs’ bye week (Nov. 11).

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