Nook Nacks — May 30

 I had a delightful Memorial Day weekend, and I hope you did too. I barbecued and went to the beach and played with this great, genius dog named Jamo He’s easily a 7-8 WAR (Wags Above Replacement) dog, and he’s aging like Chipper Jones. A very good boy, indeed. Memorial Day is also the unofficial point of the baseball season where I stop citing small sample sizes and start thinking that what we see might be what we get. Some of these players below are just starting to heat up, others are having better years than we may have expected, and opinions on them should start to change. All have some potential fantasy value. Let’s talk about them.

Pennies For Someday
Xander Bogaerts, SS — Boston Red Sox
I could write a lot about Xander. I’ve been a Red Sox fan since before Ellis Burks gave me a ball at a game in 1989. Ellis Burks is a great American. Xander Bogaerts is a great Aruban, and is available in 26% of Yahoo leagues right now. Xander has OPS’d over 1.000 the past two weeks and he’s scorching line drives all over the place. His power is developing, more of these doubles are going to turn into homers, and he’s going to be a top five fantasy shortstop the rest of the season. One day soon young Xander will rule the world as a wide-smiled, beneficent, and just leader. When that happens, you can tell your friends about the time he was on your fantasy baseball team, and it felt good.

Oscar Taveras, OF — St. Louis Cardinals
We all know about Oscar, how he’s the left-handed Vladimir Guerrero, how he’s going to be a fantasy monster as soon as he gets the call to the bigs, how the Prophecy says he’ll bring balance to The Force, et cetera, et cetera. Well, believe it. There were some injury concerns
early on in the season, but he’s back to doing what he does — hitting for average and power, not striking out a ton, and walking just enough. The only problem is that the Cardinals don’t have an opening in their outfield for him right now. Peter Bourjos is the only outfielder on the Cards that’s not hitting enough to justify his roster spot, but Taveras doesn’t have the defensive acumen for center. The Cards need to solve this logjam soon, as their best team has Taveras in the lineup.

Andrew Heaney, LHP — Miami Marlins
Heaney was recently promoted to AAA, and all he’s done in his two starts is strike out 14 batters and walk zero batters. His numbers are fantastic across the board this season — just like they were last season. Since an evil wizard seemingly cast a bifurcation spell on a few dozen UCLs this spring, Heaney may get a chance in the majors sometime this summer, particularly since the Marlins are, right now, atop the NL East standings. Heaney’s got everything you look for in a fantasy starting pitcher and could help immediately in four categories.

CJ Cron, 1B — LA Angels of Anaheim
I didn’t expect Cron up this early, but give him credit — there was an opportunity in Anaheim and he’s seized it. There are signs that what he’s done so far in the majors isn’t sustainable — he’s only walked twice in 68 plate appearances and his .346 BABIP is on the high side, but he’s got serious fantasy value right now, and is available in 95% of Yahoo leagues. Did you draft Prince Fielder or Allen Craig and you’re lazing around in a sticky pool of regret? Go scoop up Cron. Again, he probably won’t keep this up, but it’s not impossible that he does.

Tommy La Stella, 2B — Atlanta Braves
La Stella’s an interesting player. He’s a smallish second baseman who’s walked more than he’s struck out over the course of his pro career who doesn’t hit for much power at all. Everything about him screams “utility infielder” at me, but he’s going to get a chance at second in Atlanta this season. If you’re in a deep OBP league, he could be a valuable middle infielder or second baseman. I don’t really know what to make of him yet, but I do know this: he can’t be worse than Dan Uggla.

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Jason A. Churchill

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