Andre Ethier excelling in contract year
Kelly: more than meets 4 eyes
Ethier is in the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he's making $10.95 million. It usually isn't a coincidence to see a player put up a big year - if not a career year - as he heads into free agency, which is exactly what Ethier (.292/.353/.518) is doing.
Although Ethier expects to reach a long-term extension with the Blue, the fact that he's in a contract year doesn't hurt his push to prove his value after coming off a disappointing 2011 campaign.
A knee ailment - that required surgery in mid-September - bothered him throughout the season and led to a career-low 11 long balls and just 62 RBIs in 135 games last year. The bum knee also was largely responsible for a career-worst slugging percentage (.421) and fly-ball rate (31 percent).
Given Ethier's stability in BA and hit rate in the years before his injury-plagued 2011, he was a safe bet to rebound to those levels. His impending free agency has less to do with his success this and more to do with his health, and his manager concurs.
If he can remain healthy, there is plenty of reason to think he could put up a BA of .300 or better, 25-30 homers and 100 RBIs. The return of Matt Kemp (strained hamstring) will only aid this quest. Ethier's fantasy baseball profile serves as an anchor to any lineup, so it wouldn't be very wise to deal him unless you can score a stacked package in return.
St. Louis Cardinals SP Joe Kelly impresses
The Red Birds couldn't have asked for more out of Kelly in his major league debut Sunday against the Cleveland Indians. The 24-year-old righty allowed just one run and seven hits while fanning four and walking one in five innings.
As Aaron Schafer notes in the Riverfront Times, Kelly touched 96 mph with his heat and induced most of his swinging strikes with his secondary stuff, mostly his change piece. Making Carlos Santana looked overmatched didn't go unnoticed, either.
The solid outing likely bought him at least a few more starts in the rotation, and with Jaime Garcia (shoulder strain) out for at least two months, Kelly has an opportunity. He'll need to spot his sinking fastball better in order to induce grounders at the rate he did in the minors, though.
Shelby Miller, who remains the better long-term option for the Cards, has been hit hard at Triple-A Memphis this year (5.18 ERA), and St. Louis won't force the 21-year-old to the majors if they don't have to. He remains a speculative grab in NL-only leagues for now.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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