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7/20/2007 03:54:00 PM

Chasing history

Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds hit eight homers in April and 11 since then.
AP
Thanks to a pair of dingers against the Cubs on Thursday afternoon, Barry Bonds is now just two homers away from tying Hank Aaron's career mark. Now the questions become when he ties and when he sets the record. While fantasy owners shouldn't get too wrapped up in career milestones (you usually just care about what's going on right now), this final home stretch in the chase still has plenty of relevance for your squads.

With the Giants playing in Milwaukee this weekend, there are plenty of questions about whether Bud Selig will appear (especially in his hometown), but a more pressing matter is how much Bonds will play against the Brewers. Most people would rather see the record broken in San Francisco, and the Giants will be back at AT&T Park on Monday. However, Bonds and plenty of others would also rather have the circus end sooner rather than later. So balancing the two factions will be a delicate one.

The Giants do have an afternoon game Saturday after Friday's night game, which would be a good chance to rest Bonds. But with Fox showing the game, there will be much pressure to get Bonds in the game at some point as well. There's also a Sunday afternoon game, which could also be a chance to rest Bonds short of the mark.

But while the team can limit Bonds' looks on the road, there's always the chance that Bonds could go on another slump and draw out the chase longer than you might think. Bonds' two homers on Thursday ended an 0-for-21 slump, and he's had his share of ups and downs this season. On the other hand, Bonds was stuck in an 0-for-21 slump in 2001 as he approached his 500th homer. Sometimes just getting into striking distance of a major milestone will get you in a slump, but once the target is just ahead, things fall into place.

The Giants will be home all week starting Monday, facing the Braves and Marlins, should Bonds not set the mark by then. But assuming he does set the record in the next homestand (not a certainty), then the question becomes what will Bonds do the rest of the season.

San Francisco sports the worst record in the National League, there isn't a whole lot to play for, so there could be even more off-days and maybe an increase in pinch-hit appearances through August and September. Bonds will still want to add a lot to his record, and his streakiness could still lead to a handful more homers down the stretch, but he could be hard-pressed to reach 25 or 30 (he's at 19 right now). It might even be a good time to trade him, especially after Thursday's outburst, since you're not getting extra points for a milestone homer.

So no matter how you feel about Bonds, there's a chance that his value takes a big hit once he launches his 756th career homer.

Other notes for Friday:
-- It was from bad to worse for the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter, as he will undergo Tommy John surgery and likely won't be back until the middle of the 2008 season at best. It was a huge reality check for Carpenter, who had been a solid fantasy pitcher for the past couple of years despite a history of injury issues. There's no reason to have him around on a roster anymore this year, but you should be able to snag him cheap next season with the hope he might produce at the end of 2008.

-- Andruw Jones is finally finding himself after hovering near the Mendoza line all season long. However, the power and run production were still there (19 homers, 65 RBIs), so you had to take the good with the bad. But now Jones is improving, hitting .328 this month along with seven homers. At this point, you have to think he'll continue to improve, so if you want to make a deal for him, you may want to play up the still low batting average to get him below value because it won't last long.

-- Ryan Dempster is back off the DL and will return to closing. Bobby Howry did well in his place, converting seven of eight save chances, so it might not be a bad idea to keep him around just in case.

-- Speaking of the Cubs, they traded infielder Cesar Izturis to the Pirates, although there isn't much fantasy value there. Izturis could push Jack Wilson for playing time at short, but neither has a lot of fantasy relevance.
posted by JQ | View comments |  
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