Paulie Peanuts

This is just about the point in the season where it feels good to quit the leagues in which your team sucks and start focusing on the football draft. For those of you who are still "competitive," the following players might be of some help:

American League

1, Paul Konerko - 1B - CHW - Fantasy players have given up on Paul Konerko this season, and there's no blaming them: he's posted a .226 batting average with just 12 homers and 41 RBI this season. He hasn't enjoyed consecutive days with an OPS over 700 since the middle May. That being said, Konerko is 11-for-33 with three homers so far in the month of August. He's probably going to sit a couple times a week, but he's been burned by a low .248 BABIP this season, so his luck is due to improve. It's worth a gamble. After all, he has hit over 30 homers in each of his last for seasons.
Recommendation: Worth consideration in mixed leagues.

2. Andy Sonnanstine - SP - TB - Sonnanstine had a couple of tough outings in July, but since the start of June he's posted a 3.79 ERA. He's been lights out so far in August, allowing just five runs in 19 1/3 innings. He should certainly be owned in AL-only leagues at this point, and mixed leaguers should definitely consider starting him when the match-up is right.
Recommendation: Worth consideration in mixed leagues.

3. Jesse Litsch - SP - TOR - As you've surely read in our blurbs, Jesse Litsch didn't deserve to get sent down last month. He had strung together a few tough outings, but was still 8-7 with a 4.46 for Toronto. After posting a 3.60 ERA in 20 innings at Triple-A, he made a triumphant return to Toronto's rotation by shutting out the tigers for seven innings on Thursday. His ERA is down to 4.20, and he now has a 62/21 K/BB ratio in 122 innings. He also reportedly developed a new pitch - the four-seam fastball - while in the minors. He should be owned in AL-only leagues, and mixed leaguers can use him in the right match-up. Unfortunately, Litsch draws the Yankees in his next start.
Recommendation: Should be owned in AL-only leagues.

4. Jensen Lewis - RP - CLE - The Cleveland bullpen has essentially fallen apart this season, and the team is without an official closer at this point. Lewis has pitched well, though, and also notched two saves in the past week. The team seems content using Rafael Perez - the superior pitcher - in close non-save situations, so it's possible Lewis could have the most fantasy value from here on out.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deeper mixed leagues.

5. Wladimir Balentien - OF - SEA - After hitting .304 with 10 homers in 125 at-bats since the beginning of July at Triple-A, Balentien is getting another shot with the Mariners. In his first week back, he's gone 9-for-33 with two homers and six RBI. Granted, he's struck out 12 times, but it's a much better start for Balentien. He has a chance to carve out a nice role in Seattle's outfield over the last six weeks of the season.
Recommendation: Should be owned in AL-only leagues.

6. Willy Aybar - 3B - TB - With Evan Longoria out until at least September, Willy Aybar figures to see regular playing time at third for the rest of the month. He hasn't put up very good stats so far this season, but he has a career OPS approaching 800, and he's gone 7-for-10 since taking over for Longoria, including a two-homer game. He's not a mixed league option, but AL-only owners should strongly consider him.
Recommendation: Worth consideration in AL-only leagues

7. Paul Byrd - SP - BOS - Byrd had really turned it on before being sent to Boston: he'd allowed just four runs in his previous 29 innings. The solid results haven't come with much improvement in his K/BB ratio, though, and it's unlikely he'll be able to maintain the pace over the rest of the season. That being said, playing in Boston should boost his win total over the last month and a half of the season.
Recommendation: Should be owned in AL-only leagues.

8. Shin-Soo Choo - OF - CLE - Mr. Choo has started to turn it on in August, posting a .302/.348/.465 line while tallying nine runs and six RBI. He's probably only good for another 4-5 homers this season, but he could also add a few steals without killing owners in batting average. That being said, Choo has to enlist in Korea's army before 2010 and must fulfill a two-year commitment, so his long-term prospects look bleak.
Recommendation: Should be owned in AL-only leagues.

9. Luis Montanez - OF - BAL - There's no guarantee that Montanez will ever stick in the majors: the 26-year-old has struggled mightily in both his go-rounds at Triple-A, and has just a 771 OPS in his minor league career. The Orioles called him up from Double-A, though, and so far he's gone 9-for-19 with a homer, four RBI and four runs scored. Still, he's not guaranteed playing time - the Orioles seem content sticking with free-agent-to-be and 35-year-old outfielder Jay Payton. Still, there's a chance Montanez could start seeing more action, and it's rumored that Payton cleared waivers, which could lead to a trade.
Recommendation: Monitor in AL-only leagues.

National League

1. Mike Cameron - OF - MIL - Cameron is owned in about half of fantasy leagues, so this recommendation is only for those in shallow mixed leagues. It's also going to get me a lot of "I wish I was in a league where he was available" emails. As the Brewers have caught fire this month, Cameron has managed a .310/.431/.714 line. He now has 20 homers and 51 RBI in just 306 at-bats this season. The .239 average isn't pretty, but there's no reason Cameron should be so widely available.
Recommendation: Should be owned in mixed leagues.

2. Adam LaRoche - 1B - PIT - I wrote about LaRoche six weeks ago, mentioning the fact that in the last three years he hit .244 with a 790 OPS before the All-Star break and hit .318 with an 880 OPS after it. He was just starting to heat up when he was forced to go on the disabled list with a right intercostals strain, but he's back, and hopefully he'll finish the season strongly once again.
Recommendation: Should be owned in mixed leagues.

3. Chris Dickerson - OF - CIN - With Adam Dunn in Arizona, the Reds called up Chris Dickerson and should start him against the majority of right-handed pitchers. Like Dunn, Dickerson strikes out a lot, he's probably not going to hit for much average, and the first syllable of his last name is a homophone. He had 36 extra-base hits in 349 minor league at-bats, though, and he's already got three doubles and a triple in his first nine major league plate appearances. Since his stats against righties are so solid, Dickerson is a nice option for fantasy teams with roster flexibility.
Recommendation: Should be owned in NL-only leagues

4. Jody Gerut - OF - SD - Gerut has been spectacular so far in August, hitting .295 with five homers, seven runs and ten RBI. In fact, the 30-year-old Elmhurst, Illinois product has had a very solid season, posting a .289/.350/.472 line. He's not going to set any rosters on fire, but he's a solid option for NL-only leaguers looking to round out their roster.
Recommendation: Should be owned in NL-only leagues.

5. Nomar Garciaparra - SS - LAD - He still hasn't reached the 100 at-bat mark this season, but that should change over the weekend unless Nomar suffers one of his trademark injuries. When healthy, he's been moderately effective this season, posting a .258/.318/495 line with six homers and 21 RBI. Not bad for 97 scattered at-bats.
Recommendation - Should be owned in NL-only leagues.

6. Willie Harris - OF - WAS - Harris started getting regular playing time in the middle of June, and since then he has hit .288, raising his batting average over 100 points. The 30-year-old also has 24 runs and 24 RBI over that period, which would put him at a 100 RBI pace over a full season. Still, it's Willie Harris. He figures to see plenty of playing time the rest of the way, so mixed leaguers might consider him for as long as he's producing.
Recommendation - Worth consideration in deeper mixed leagues.

7. Scott Podsednik - OF - COL - Podsednik is set to begin a rehab assignment in the next few days, and there could be a solid chunk of playing time waiting for him once he returns. The Rockies have taken Willy Tavares out of the leadoff spot due to his recent struggles (granted he's gone 4-for-8 since), and Pods was hitting very well before going on the disabled list. Pods will contribute little more than speed, but he had managed 20 runs and 10 steals in just 137 at-bats before going on the DL, so he's worth grabbing if one has roster flexibility.
Recommendation - Worth consideration in NL-only leagues.

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