Andrew Cashner threw six innings of no-hit ball in his starting debut for the San Diego Padres and Jeff Mathis (he plays for the Toronto Blue Jays – I had no idea) had four hits in one game. These things both happened on the same night clearly overshadowing Trevor Bauer’s debut for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This week’s column is hot off the presses. Enjoy!
American League Waiver Wire
Jeff Mathis is hitting .375/.375/.688 over the last 14 days for the Toronto Blue Jays. His career record in the major leagues (.196/.258/.310) shows there is no discernible reason for him to be owned in a fantasy league. Do not let this short hot streak fool you into picking him up unless you play in a three catcher league.
Derek Norris’ first week in the major leagues for the Oakland Athletics has to be deemed a success with two home runs and a slash line of .316/.350/.632. He won’t keep the batting average up, but he will offer some pop and should keep a solid OBP. In two catcher leagues, I’d pick him up to replace the slumping J.P. Arencibia or the seemingly oft injured Alex Avila.
Chris Carter (aka Brandon Moss, aka Kila Ka’aihue, aka Daric Barton) was recalled by the Oakland Athletics on Friday and inserted into the starting lineup at first base. I assume that Carter is the flavor of the fortnight at first base for the former Philadelphia faction (do you see what I did there?). I’m not sure the A’s will commit to Carter as the full time first baseman or DH. If he gets regular playing time, he will likely struggle to do anything but hit home runs.
There have been some who would like to see what he could do as a full-time DH without the distraction of trying to play defense. The hope would be Carter would see a surge like Edwin Encarnacion did for the Toronto Blue Jays this season after being relieved of his defensive duties. I hold out little hope that the A’s are creative enough to do so, but if they do snag Carter as he has otherworldly power. If he stays at first base, I’d leave him on the waiver wire.
Lonnie Chisenhall went down with a broken arm on Friday night and is said to be out ten to twelve weeks. Chisenhall had picked up his game for the Cleveland Indians over the last couple of weeks. He hadn’t been playing regularly and when he did it had been at DH recently. Jack Hanahan will continue to start at 3B, but he’s a defense first player who should garner little attention in fantasy circle. In the short term, I think we’ll see Jose Lopez at DH. That stay could be short as Travis Hafner is due to return on Monday from his DL stint.
Alexei Ramirez looks to be coming out of his year long slump. His OPS is at .595 for 2012. His last three seasons OPS are .723, .744 and .727. These are certainly not Hall of Fame numbers, but he’s established a performance baseline. He has room for improvement and it’s time to pick him up in shallower leagues and ride him as he heads towards the 700s. I could see another 10 HRs over the remainder of the season with some speed thrown in. He won’t help on the AVG or OBP side, but you could do worse at SS in the American League.
Alcides Escobar continues to hit for the Kansas City Royals. He’s played part of five seasons in the major leagues, but is still just 25 years old. He continues to bat at the bottom of the order thus limiting his runs and RBI upside. He’ll continue to provide a relatively empty batting average with a little upside in the SB department. However, should he move up in the lineup, his runs scored total could blossom.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford are preforming a tandem rehab assignment for the Boston Red Sox. I believe they will both use the entire 20 day time frame to get healthy and slide back into the lineup (Ellsbury at leadoff, Crawford somewhere lower in the six or seven hole). Ellsbury is a target for anyone in need of SBs, just don’t think you’ll get the HRs you saw last year. Crawford’s future is a bit less clear. I think Crawford will still run and will be useful in the SBs category. The rest of his game is suspect at best and I wouldn’t expect more than SBs and league average batting average. The nature of his injuries (wrist and elbow) leads me to believe he won’t get his swing straight this year.
Quintin Berry may indeed have semi-regular playing time if this story from the Detroit Free pass says. Again, he has speed to burn if he keeps that playing time. Berry’s playing time will likely come at Andy Dirks’ expense (whenever he returns) and potentially Delmon Young who has not produced at all this year.
Jim Thome was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. I like the move a lot for the Orioles and for your fantasy team. Thome immediately becomes the starting DH against right handed pitching. It looks like he’ll bat fifth initially. He has a career .236/.367/.492 line at Camden Yards over 297 PAs. I can see 12-15 HRs for him over the second half of the season with a batting average around .250.
Adam Warren was brought up for his major league debut this week. He is no longer on the major league roster which should tell you all you need to know about his debut. Stay away from him.
David Phelps (the long reliever darling of the Yankees early season) has been recalled to start Wednesday of the upcoming week. I don’t think he’s fully stretched out yet as a starter so his initial start or two will likely be short. As for the long term, he was a starter throughout his minor league career with a 7.4 K/9 ratio over his five seasons. He’s a definite addition in AL-only leagues and I’d monitor him in shallower leagues. He should provide a solid WHIP with some wins. He’s likely only in the rotation until Sabathia returns unless Phelps performs at a high level.
Freddy Garcia will likely maintain one of the two open spots until Sabathia gets healthy. He’s a veteran who can eat some innings. From a fantasy perspective, he should garner some wins in the short term so if you can take the ERA/WHIP hit he provides, he’s a worthwhile addition.
The only other pitcher on the 40 man roster that the Yankees might consider is Chris Schwinden. Schwinden was released by the New York Mets earlier this year after getting pummeled in the major leagues. He is not an option for your fantasy team.
The Kansas City Royals are shuffling the deck chairs in their starting rotation. Bob Dutton notes a series of moves which have or could happen. Let’s take a look at all of the possibilities in a bit more depth.
Everett Teaford was recalled Wednesday to start against the Tampa Bay Rays. Teaford is a diminutive lefthander who has spent parts of seven seasons in the minor leagues mostly as a starter. He has worked his way back from an oblique injury earlier in the year. The question for Teaford is will he be able to get by with less than electric stuff at the big league level? He has a passable 7.1 K/9 rate in the minors, but that’s fallen to 5.2 over 55 innings in the major leagues. These types of pitchers may have initial success, but as the league adjusts they are hit hard the second and third time through a lineup. Teaford looks to be no more than a long-man/mop up reliever in the majors at 28 years old. I would pass on him unless you have a deep bench.
Doug Davis is who Doug Davis has always been – a lefthander who walks too many players and strikes out too few of them. A career 1.519 WHIP should tell you all you need to know about Davis. He was a durable innings eater for three seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers (finishing at exactly .500 in 2004, 2005 and 2006!) His last two seasons have been awful (both in the NL) and I do not see the American League being any kinder. I’m not impressed with his “improved” control in the minors this year as it mirrors his 2011 season in the minors. I would pass on Davis in all formats.
Jake Odorizzi entered 2012 as the #68 prospect as rated by Baseball America and #4 in the Ryoals organization. Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus saw Odorizzi as a 4-star prospect, #3 in the Royals system and #47 overall in baseball. He has been uneven over his minor league career. He has been good at AAA this year, but his control is still not there and he’s been quite hittable this season. He probably requires a bit more development in order to be successful at the minor league level. In keeper/dynasty leagues, he is a must add. In single season leagues, I would pass at this time even if he is called up.
Mike Montgomery is the final in the list of Royals rotation potentials. His prospect star has faded this season after an extremely rough 2011 season. Many scouts still believed in his potential, but that belief has not yet led to success in 2012. His K/9 rate has dropped at each level and his BB/9 has increased. I do not see the future star that many do. However, he is still just 22 years old and has time to actualize on his many tools. I would ignore him in all leagues this year.
Gavin Floyd has always been a better second half pitcher than a first half pitcher. It looks like he might be starting a bit earlier than usual for the Chicago White Sox. He hasn’t given up an earned run over his last two starts. He’s an excellent trade target for the second half. Don’t expect a ton of wins, but he will likely end with an ERA around 4.00 and a WHIP just about 1.300.
Franklin Morales last three starts for the Boston Red Sox have been outstanding. Over 18 IP he has 24 Ks with a 2.00 ERA and 0.944 WHIP. The Red Sox offense is coming around at the same time. Morales has always had the stuff of a front line starter (he was the #8 prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2008 season), but has not been able to put it together for the long term. I’d grab him in AL-only leagues and deep mixed leagues.
Charlie Furbush has been lights out for the Seattle Mariners out of the bullpen all season. And now, with Erasmo Ramirez’s injury he could slide into the rotation. He has a pretty impressive track record in the minor leagues as a starter, but hasn’t been able to translate that to the majors. His splits this season shows an ability to get both left handers and right handers out. I’d stream Furbush if he moves into the rotation based on matchups (he shows no strong home/road split this season). He’s still valuable as a middle reliever in deep AL-only leagues.
Kyle Farnsworth is ready to return for the Tampa Bay Rays. Manager Joe Maddon stated that Fernando Rodney will remain the closer. Farnsworth will still be used in high leverage situations, but I can only see him garnering saves if Rodney is injured or Farnsworth is traded.
National League Waiver Wire
I’m going to reuse most of earlier post on Yasmani Grandal from a few weeks ago. He was recalled by the San Diego Padres on Friday evening. Nick Hundley was demoted in a related move which likely means Grandal is up for the long term. Grandal was seen by many as the top prospect (even including Yonder Alonso) in the Mat Latos deal. (Internal monologue break: Anyone else think the Reds will look back on this deal and have the same remorse the Mariners do for the Erik Bedard deal?) The 23-year old Cuban was rated as the #53 prospect by Baseball America and #38 by Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus.
What should we expect for the rest of this year? Catcher’s development is later along the age curve as a significant part of their development time is tied to their defense. I assume he’ll slide into Nick Hundley’s (13%) eighth spot in the lineup. Grandal has shown good plate discipline in the minors and I can see his line for the rest of the year being close to what A.J. Ellis did in 2011 (.271/.392/.376). That is, he should be a solid on base player, but his power will not provide an impact due to his youth and Petco. As he develops, the power will come over time. He’s certainly a target in keeper/dynasty leagues and in deeper/NL-only leagues.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have lost Rod Barajas for a short period of time to what is called a minor knee injury. Filling in for Barajas has been Michael McKenry. He’s shown some power this year, but he’s nothing more than a backup catcher. He might hold some value in deep NL-only leagues, but that is the only place I’d look to add him.
Ramon Hernandez is about to start his rehab assignment for the Colorado Rockies. I assume he’ll be back with them in the next week. However, during that time Wilin Rosario has stolen the starting job. Expect Hernandez to get one to two starts per week.
I wrote about Ryan Zimmerman last week. And now, it looks like he’s back! Or is he? Zimmerman received a cortisone shot this week. Magically, the shot looks to have turned him into a new man. It is amazing what legal steroids can do for a player. There is a good chance that this one shot can carry him through the rest of the year and keep the inflammation down to a manageable level. There is also still a chance that it does not and he needs more medication or ultimately rest. For the short term, I think this can only help Zimmerman and if a manager in your league is concerned see what it will take to get him.
For the longer term (keeper/dynasty leagues), I just think this is another red flag on Zimmerman. I’m not the one paying him $120M through 2019 along with a $10M personal services contract after he retires, so I’ll assume the Nationals know what they are doing with his health. This isn’t how I’d treat an asset that you have to pay for the next seven years and expect All-Star level performance.
Nolan Arenado will not be recalled to the major leagues this year according to the Colorado Rockies. General manager Dan O’Dowd noted that his “maturity level has not yet reached his talent level.” In redraft leagues he should be dropped. In keeper/dynasty leagues it may be time to take a look at other prospects out there (perhaps a Jackie Bradley, Jr for the Boston Red Sox or one of the new draftees) to pick up for Arenado. A great deal of his perceived value this year was that the Rockies did not have a true third baseman on the major league roster and Arenado was seen as the heir apparent. Perhaps that analysis was too simple as the player has not cooperated by developing.
Ryan Howard did indeed start his rehab assignment this week and was able to play in the field which is an encouraging sign. The reports say he will utilize his entire 20 day rehab assignment which should put him back in the lineup around July 18. It will be interesting to see if he can recover his power this year. I believe we will see a batting average around .260 with a solid OBP and perhaps 12-15 homeruns for the remainder of the season.
Daniel Murphy went nearly one calendar year between home runs. It seems that home run may have been the impetus he needed to get out of his tailspin. Murphy was one of my favorites coming into the season, but he’s been a huge disappointment. Murphy’s nine for his last 22 with three HRs and 10 RBIs with an unbelievable 1/0 K/BB ratio. He’s always been a high contact player and I still believe he has the upside I imagined for him prior to the year which is a .310 hitter with 10-12 HRs. If you are light in batting average, he’s one of the few who could help move you up.
Jose Tabata is rumored to be close to be demoted to AAA for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has been up and down all season (mostly down). Usually the Pirates would leave a young player like this in their lineup and let him work it out. However, their patience seems to have grown thin. Who would get Tabata’s playing time should he lose his roster spot? Drew Sutton has gotten pretty regular playing time since his arrival via a waiver claim. He’s always had a great OBP in the minors, but has shown little else. He’s hit leadoff already so he could be a source of runs if he gets regular playing time. We could also see Garrett Jones shift to the outfield and Casey McGehee inserted into the lineup at first base. That situation is also not the most appetizing one though he does have some power, but will harm your batting average with regular playing time. I’d stay away from this situation except in the deep NL leagues.
Michael Morse looks to have shaken the rust off from his long layoff. He is hitting .370/.364/.574 over the last 14 days. He should be owned in all leagues and expect 15 home runs for the rest of the season with a .275 batting average.
I cannot explain Jason Marquis’ success for the San Diego Padres other than to say Petco Park must also be the fountain of youth. He has a K/9 rate not seen since his 2002 season at AAA Richmond in the Braves organization. The move from the AL to the NL helps Marquis, but he’s been awful in the NL since 2010 as well. I have no explanation for his success so I would pass. If your tolerance for risk is higher, stream him at home and cross your fingers.
As I noted at the top, Andrew Cashner threw six shutout innings for the San Diego Padres on Thursday night. His home park makes him an option in deep leagues right away (as it does for Jason Marquis). He’s an immediate streaming option for all home starts in most leagues. In shallower leagues, he may have been owned as a speculative saves play or for holds. In those leagues, he makes a good trade target as the owner may be overloaded with starting pitching now. The key to owning Cashner is to watch his walk rates. He’s had solid control in the minors which has completely deserted him in the majors. If he can somehow get his BB/9 rate down to around 3.0 then he’s an all-star. If not, he’s a league average pitcher at best.
Shelby Miller was in the news a bit this week as (according to Rotoworld.com) “The Cardinals had the struggling 21-year-old skip a turn in the Memphis starting rotation and instituted a “no-shake rule” to keep him from relying too heavily on his fastball.” His first start showed some promise and he’d be a good target in dynasty leagues if his owner has lost faith based on his results. He has all of the physical skills to be a good to great starting pitcher. He’s K/9 rate is still spectacular, but he’s getting hit hard this year. He’s a 21 year old at AAA so he’s certainly advanced for his age. I believe patience will pay off in the end for Miller owners.
Don’t look now, but the Chicago Cubs’ Carlos Marmol looks like he’s back on track. He’s got three saves over his last seven days and five Ks over his last 2 2/3 IP. Marmol is the definition of Jekyll/Hyde as a player. He’s on the Jekyll side right now and he could be a good target for the rest of the season. There is always a chance he gets dealt as the Cubs look to rebuild, but he’s got 9.8M on his contract for 2013 as well as the remainder of the $7M he is owed this year. I don’t see the new owners paying that off unless they can get a solid return. And, as we saw with the Kevin Youkilis deal, even paying off a good chunk of what is owed does not guarantee a great return.
Thanks for your time this week and drop me a comment with any questions you might have especially if you are evaluating trades at this time of year. All of my previous columns can be found at here.
Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.