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Stealing First :: Week 24
by Jake Gott
Published: September 8, 2008, 5:39 pm

Football has officially kicked off, so for those of you who care, be sure to check out the Pick Six starting this Wednesday. As for baseball there are a few races really tightening up and a few players that should be watched as the season ends...

Huey Lewis and the News

Two Close for Comfort – After last week's look at the various races in the majors, we jump ahead a week and my, how things have changed. Tampa Bay is hanging on to a quickly disintegrating lead in the AL East where over the last 10 games the Rays have gone 5-5 and the Red Sox have gone 7-3 to cut the lead to 1.5 games. The Rays have to be somewhat excited that Rookie of the Year candidate Evan Longoria is expected back soon to help kick start an offense that just was manhandled by Toronto. As for the Red Sox, ace Josh Beckett has returned and seems to have jumped in right where he left off solidifying a Red Sox rotation that could be poised for a late season push for the AL East title if not home field throughout.

In the NL West, the tides have already turned and it is the Los Angeles Dodgers who have a magic number of 19 and a 1.5 game lead on the slumping Arizona Diamondbacks. Over the last 10 the Dodgers have gone 8-2 with 5 of those wins coming against Arizona. The D-backs have gone 3-7, looking tired and lost as they start to show their youth at the wrong time.

Getting of the Snide(r) – The Toronto Blue Jays have leap-frogged the Yankees in the AL East as they continue an 8 game winning streak. Newly called-up OF Travis Snider has been hitting well after having a few slip-ups in the minors this year. Still, Snider projects to be a solid hitting, moderate power source for the Jays going forward and will complement the outfield of Adam Lind, Vernon Wells and Alex Rios quite nicely. Snider is most likely going to see time at DH next season and could spell some of the other outfielders as they rotate around. He will be an interesting player to keep an eye on as his power could be what the Jays have so desperately needed.

Nicks, Nerds and Notes – Connor Gillaspie has been called up by the Giants. Gillaspie was drafted earlier this season and even though he had a relatively weak showing in short season ball, the Giants called him up to possibly get some reps in at third... Billy Wagner is expected to miss the remainder of the season with elbow soreness... Mariners catching prospect Jeff Clement will have season-ending knee surgery. Clement could be shopped this off-season for pitching or outfield help... Astros utility man Ty Wigginton will be shelved for at least three more days it is expected after straining his groin Saturday. Wigginton has been on fire for the past few weeks... Alfredo Aceves will take Darrell Rasner's spot at the back end of the Yankees rotation and could be someone to take a look at next year if he pitches well.

Selling the Farm

The minors are entering playoff mode and for teams that don't make it, their top players will likely be looking at a plane ticket to the show. Here's what you need to know to be ready for September's flood of rookies.

Guys to Eye

Wilmer Flores, SS, NYM
Flores, the Mets 17-year-old SS of the future and speculative top prospect, had a great season as he jumped through three levels. His season line of .307 with 8 HR and 42 RBI in only 280 AB looks even better when you imagine what Flores could be doing if he was a little more filled out and got a little more experience. While he is still most likely 2-3 years away and blocked by some guy named Jose Reyes, Flores will be watched by most prospectors as a diamond in the rough.

Josh Outman, SP, OAK
Lost in the Joe Blanton trade to Philadelphia was the fact that Oakland picked up another young starting pitcher. Josh Outman, a tall lefty, was in the process of being converted to a reliever by Philadelphia when he was dealt. After the deal, Oakland had Outman starting again and it seemed to work out well. Outman racked up a season line of 7-4 with a 3.11 ERA and 86 K in 98.1 IP. He walked 45 batters which needs to be improved, but his five homeruns allowed is definitely impressive. Next year will most likely be a decision year for the 23-year-old as the A's will need to decide if Outman is part of their plans with all their other young starters or if he is most suited for a role in the pen.

Weekly Wrap-Up

The Minor League playoffs have started to heat up and some have even ended. In the AA Texas League, Frisco (Texas) will face the Arkansas Travelers (Angels) for the championship. The AA Eastern League championship will pit Akron (Indians) against Trenton (Yankees). In the International League, Shelly Duncan's two run walk-off homer sealed the deal as the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre Yankees will face the Durham Bulls (Rays) stacked AAA team. In the Pacific Coast League, Travis Metcalf and the Oklahoma Red Hawks (Texas) will face Oakland Athletics affiliate Sacramento.

Prospect of the Week

Kris Medlen- Looking to propel his team deeper into the Southern League playoffs, Braves prospect Medlen decided to throw a gem by tossing 9 shutout innings and striking out 12. He walked none while only allowing 5 hits as Mississippi heads into the finals against the Carolina Mudcats (Florida).

WAIT A MINUTE MR. POSTMAN

No email this week. I guess everyone thought baseball ended as soon as football begins.

Keep the emails and PM's coming so you can avoid the likelihood that you'll be starting Johnny Estrada this year. To get your questions answered, PM TheSnake at FPM or email pick_six@hotmail.com.



Jake Gott is a writer for FantasyPlaymakers.com. An all around fan of sports, Jake follows the Cardinals of both St. Louis and Arizona as well as the Boston Celtics and the whole NHL. A proclaimed "fantasy nerd", he has hoisted many a belt above his head in league championship glory. To reach Jake, email him at pick_six@hotmail.com or by sending him a message on the FPM site under the name of TheSnake.





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