My All-Star break was a bit longer than planned. It included a huge uptick in “work” and the birth of our second child. But, I’m back to finish up the baseball season. Many of you are still chasing that elusive flag and we have just about a month and a half to make the right moves.
The next two weeks are important as September 1 opens up the 25 man roster to 40 players. This can mean deeper starting rotations, shutting down certain starting pitchers who are returning from injury or reaching innings limits, and trotting out young players to get a look at for next year sacrificing of veterans’ playing time
American League Waiver Wire
John Jaso continues to hit for the Seattle Mariners. Jaso is probably the most unlikely cleanup hitter in all of baseball. Seattle is certainly not an offensive juggernaut (especially at home), but Jaso will continue to get RBI opportunities in that spot. He’s hit 282/395/564 over the last 21 days with 3 HR and 10 RBI (and even 2 SBs!). He’s even DH’ing on some of his off nights. He has a career .355 OBP in the majors with a .379 OPS in the minors over nine different seasons. He is a solid pickup for the rest of the season and should contribute to your championship.
Jesus Montero’s rookie season with the Seattle Mariners has been up and down. He’s been up since the All-Star break. However, I wouldn’t get too excited. Unfortunately, like almost all Seattle hitters, he’s a stream player only as him home/road splits make him unplayable at home and an All-Star on the road. Similarly, he struggles mightily against right handers and mashes left handers. Until he moves from Safeco he’s only an option in deeper leagues. He’s young enough that he can overcome the lefty/righty split so look for offseason stories of Montero’s work to see if he is attempting to fix that issue. He’ll need to hire a construction company to fix Safeco.
Derek Norris is now the full time catcher for the Oakland Athletics and he’s only 21 years old. I know that he has struggled this year (hitting only .200 on the season), but he’s shown a bit of power and speed (5 HRs and 5 SBs) this year and I think that’s only a sample of things to come. His calling card in the minor leagues was his ability to get on base. He is a great target in keeper/dynasty leagues as he has no one in his path to regular playing time and has a great offensive profile at the catcher position.
Josh Donaldson is also back up for the Oakland Athletics. He’s going to be the full time third baseman while Brandon Inge is on the DL. Donaldson struggled mightily is his earlier tour of duty with the A’s. However, he’s off to a fast start in four games going 7 for 14 with a HR and 3 RBIs. He’s still only a worthwhile addition in the deepest of leagues.
Mark Reynolds? No, really, Mark Reynolds is finally hitting for the Baltimore Orioles. And he probably has a line on permanent playing time with Jim Thome’s and Wilson Betemit’s recent injuries. Reynolds will drag your batting average down (though he is not nearly as big a detriment in OBP leagues). Reynolds will provide HRs and likely little else as he’s always had a relatively low RBI/HR ratio. It goes without saying that even with this uptick in playing time and hot streak, he’s still unusable in H2H points leagues.
Nick Castellanos of the Detroit Tigers won the Futures Game MVP award during the All-Star break. This past week, there have been signals from the Tigers’ front office that Castellanos may help out at the major league level this year. The Tigers moved Castellanos to the outfield with the idea that he is blocked at third base and the Tigers have not gotten the production they wanted in the outfield. The Tigers Andy Dirks returned from the DL this week (and has started off on a hot streak), so I do not see Castellanos making an impact this season. There are also reports that Castellanos has struggled with his move to right field. He’s still a player to keep an eye on for next year, but he’s going to need to improve in order to provide an impact in 2013.
Manny Machado was recalled by the Baltimore Orioles and immediately inserted into the starting lineup at third base – a position he had played sparingly in the minor leagues. He got off to a hot start with three home runs in his first four games. He was hitting 266/352/438 at AA Bowie (as a 19 year old) this year so not much was expected of him at the major league level. I can safely predict he will not maintain his current 1.155 OPS. But, where will he end up?
Machado is up to stay and will get every chance to succeed or fail at the major league level this year. As has been written many times, history has not been kind to 19 year olds at the major league level
Johnny Giavotella was recalled Friday night by the Kansas City Royals to replace the injured Chris Getz. Getz is out for the year and the reports are that Giavotella will be the regular second baseman for the remainder of the year. Giavotella is a player like Brandon Belt where much was expected of him this year and he plays for a fan base that cannot understand why he hasn’t been in the majors starting all year long. He doesn’t look like he has anything left to prove offensively at AAA (.877 OPS this year though he has had a bit of a power drought over his last ten games (.660 OPS) in the minors). He’s going to get the chance to play every day for the rest of the season (and really has no one pushing him). He should provide you with above average BA and perhaps a little bit of pop.
Erick Aybar returned for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and is in excellent form. He should be owned in all formats as his combination of power and speed at the shortstop position is difficult to find.
Jarrod Dyson is now on the good side of a platoon with Jeff Francouer for the Kansas City Royals. Dyson’s calling card has always been his speed so he’s in line for an uptick in stolen bases and runs as he’s been installed as the leadoff man. I believe the Royals will leave this platoon in place until at least September 1. At that time, there is a chance that uber-prospect Wil Myers will be recalled and would take Dyson’s place in the lineup (but not at leadoff). The Royals haven’t made any signals either way, but Myers clearly has nothing left to prove at AAA).
Anthony Gose (14%) was recalled by the Toronto Blue Jays when Jose Bautista went on the DL. It looks like Gose should have a full time job for the rest of the year as the Jays dealt Travis Snider and Jose Bautista looks like he may not make it back this season with his most recent setback. Gose is probably not ready for prime time. He will help you in stolen bases and runs (if he moves at the top of the lineup), but will likely be a strikeout machine that Will Hurt in H2H leagues.
Brett Gardner (45%) of the New York Yankees is done for the year after elbow surgery. Gardner was never a power hitter and these types of injuries are much easier to hitters to run from than pitchers. He should be fully healthy next year and back terrorizing American League catchers.
Rajai Davis can run. Very fast. Not Billy Hamilton fast, but fast enough to steal bases consistently the major league level for the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s been doing that for the past couple of weeks. He’s hitting leadoff in what can be a powerful lineup (especially at home). Don’t expect much else but SBs, however that could be a game changer for your team.
Carl Crawford is supposed to meet with the Boston Red Sox brass on Monday to discuss surgery on his elbow. There is a good chance that he will have the surgery and be done for the season so take note if you own him and be on the look out for a replacement. Also, he may not be fully healthy by the start of next season so factor that into your keeper plans.
Brett Anderson is scheduled to return from the disabled list for the Oakland Athletics next week as long as a bullpen session goes well this weekend. Anderson is returning from Tommy John surgery last July. He’s been solid in his rehab outings. I’d expect some bumps in the road for the remainder of the year, so do not count on him to be a savior for your squad. He’s much more of a play for the 2013 season so if you have him and are making a push, I wouldn’t hesitate to deal him for a solid starting pitcher.
Dan Straily was recalled by the Oakland Athletics and made his major league debut. Straily has been the story of the minor leagues this year with his development from non-prospect to a potential top 50 prospect in all of baseball. Straily pitched well enough to win his first start, but the lead as blown by the bullpen. He will have his ups and downs, but is a great pick up for keeper leagues as his strikeout rate in the minors was fantastic. It will be interesting to see if this year is a fluke or if he can build on it. Just be warned – he could be the odd man out when Brett Anderson returns. I don’t believe he will be (see next paragraph), but there is a chance he moves back to AAA until that season ends.
Jarrod Parker is starting to slow down for the Oakland Athletics. This is not at all unexpected. He threw 136 combined innings in 2011 and he’s up to 142 in 2012. He’s now two years removed from Tommy John surgery, but he’s still just 23 and perhaps hasn’t rebuilt all of his strength. For that reason, I believe the A’s will shut him down or limit his innings for the remainder of the season. He’s another Oakland starter I’d look to move in a keeper league as he will likely not be a contributor to your squad for the rest of the season..
Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona) made his return this week for the Cleveland Indians. It was not a good return, but it was something. Hernandez had a long layoff and wasn’t particularly impressive in his rehab. I’d assume he’s treating these last few weeks as spring training/audition for next year. Let him practice on someone else’s team.
Francisco Liriano was dealt from the Minnesota Twins to the Chicago White Sox. He goes to a less friendly pitching environment at U.S. Cellular Field. Liriano has been the picture of inconsistency over his career. At this point, I’d expect a little higher ERA perhaps offset with an additional win for the remainder of the season. Liriano remains a league average starter in my opinion.
Jered Weaver has been a stud this year for the Anaheim Angels. However, if you are making a push for a championship, I would stay away from him in trades as he’s primed for a regression and that regression may have started this weekend. He has a sparkling 2.74 ERA, but behind that lays a 3.60 FIP and 4.08 xFIP. His batted ball profile has changed this year as well as he’s giving up fewer fly balls than normal, but more line drives and grounders – a profile more similar to his 2008 year where he had a 4.33 ERA (and 3.90 FIP and 4.22 xFIP). Moreover, he is backed by one of the worst bullpens in the league. All of this means Weaver’s success to date could end in a nightmare for your fantasy team.
Ubaldo Jimenez doesn’t seem to be much of a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. I don’t think he’ll ever be good (or even league average) again. And here is why. He has very complicated mechanics. Those mechanics are out of whack (a technical scouting term). Until he gets them fixed (and not says he’s going to) he is undraftable in any league unless you score points for the highest ERA.
Roy Oswalt looks done. He’s been booted out of the rotation in Texas and now he refused to pitch a third inning of relief. I can’t see the Rangers suffering his insolence. I expect him to be useless for the rest of the season. He continues to be a player that won’t be on any of my fantasy team and he shouldn’t be on yours.
Jeff Niemann has started his rehab for the Tampa Bay Rays. It is supposed to be a four start trip for him and that should put him back with Tampa Bay in about 15 days. He should return to the rotation and would likely displace Alex Cobb who has been underwhelming as a starter.
Doug Fister is my “under the radar” trade target for the last two months of the season. While other owners are targeting Justin Verlander or Felix Hernandez or Jered Weaver, I would suggest Fister as a significantly cheaper alternative. First, he plays for a team that should win their fair share of games for the remainder of the season. Second, his second half last year was incredible (8-3 with a 2.47 ERA, 0.912 WHIP and a 6.6 K/9 ratio). He seems up to his old tricks again (notwithstanding Sunday’s start) and he’s back by a powerful offense. Now, I don’t believe there are second half players per se, but let’s just say some of them must exist as exceptions to prove the rule, correct?
Ryan Dempster is done as an above average starter for your team. His trade to the American League and to Arlington moves him from above average to below average. He may pick up someone wins due to Texas’ offense, but he will damage your ERA at the same time. If you can move him for someone (like a Doug Fister?), I would do it and not look back. It will be interesting to see what damage this does to his value as a free agent. Dempster belongs in the NL.
Andrew Bailey returned for the Boston Red Sox . The last we’ve heard was that Bailey would return in a setup role and Alfredo Aceves would maintain the closer’s role. And that is how it looks to be. Aceves has been solid since his early season meltodown. It will be interesting to see how the situation plays out in Boston in the offseason and into Spring Traingin. Both Aceves and Baily are arbitration eligible agains this offseason and Aceves is likely due for a large raise. I can see the Sox going into 2013 with Aceves back as a long/swing man and Bailey as closer. I could aslo see them non-tendering Bailey and bring Aceves back to hldold the role.
In other Boston Red Sox reliever news, Daniel Bard is due to return in September. He’ll likely slot into a middle or setup role and be worthless. He has been awful since his demotion to AAA and I believe the Red Sox have likely ruined any future value he may have in any role. It took a lot of work to get Bard to be an effective setup man and now that work is all gone. I don’t foresee another crack at fixing Bard bearing any fruit. Cut bait in all leagues and do not concern yourself with him in keeper leagues.
National League Waiver Wire
Kurt Suzuki was acquired by the Washington Nationals after the non-waiver deadline. Suzuki has struggled mightily at the plate this year, but all reports say he continues to be solid behind the plate. Suzuki immediately took over as the starting catcher and mutes the value of Jesus Flores and Wilson Ramos in keeper leagues as Suzuki is signed through 2013. Suzuki does have some power in his bat and perhaps a switch to the NL will help him, but I do not expect much from him for the rest of the season. Any power he brings will be at a detriment to your batting average.
Garrett Jones is back on a hot streak for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s got 3 HRs, 12 RBIs while hitting 416/464/1.000 over the last seven days. You probably have another week to ten days to ride the streak so get him in your lineup for next week. Just remember as quickly as he’s gotten hot, he will slip back into a cold streak.
Todd Frazier continues to rake for the Cincinnati Reds. It’s not surprising that he’s been able to hit. His biggest issue was that Dusty Baker wanted to continue to trot Scott Rolen out to third every day. Rolen’s best days are likely behind him though he continues to have value defensively. I think Frazier’s done enough to secure the Rookie of the Year title in the Ntional League. I like Frazier for the rest of the season and also as a cheaper dynasty target.
Michael Cuddyer is heading back to the DL for the Colorado Rockies after aggravating a prior injury. There is a chance he is done for the year as oblique injuries are notoriously slow healing and with the re-injury the Rockies will likely be cautious with his rehab. Look for Tyler Colvin’s regular playing time to be solidified for the remainder of the season.
Marco Scutaro was dealt to the San Francisco Giants and I believed it rendered him utterly useless in all but the deepest of leagues. Why, you might ask? These are Scutaro’s home splits this year (at Coors) .302/.366/.427 for an OPS of .793. These are his road splits (everywhere else) .238/.278/.292 for an OPS of .570. That’s not someone I wanted on any of my teams. I also thought the Giants would rotate Ryan Theriot, Brandon Crawford, Scutaro and Joaquin Arias through the middle infield spots. None of them are attractive fantasy options. I was wrong. Scutaro has been more than solid to the tune of a .788 OPS and he’s even driven in 15 runs. He looks like he is going to continue to get
The smoke around Troy Tulowitzki makes me think that he has a chance to return for the last few weeks of the season. Chris Nelson is slated to return for the Colorado Rockies on Monday. Nelson had a heart-related scare that sent him to the DL. He looks to be fully recovered and will likely slide into the starting lineup at second base. Nelson provides a little bit of pop for a middle infielder, but little else. How long he stays there depends on his production at the plate as they Rockies have a plethora of other replacement level options at second base. Moreover, he will go to the bench when (if?) Troy Tulowitzki returns.
Jean Segura was recalled on Monday by the Milwaukee Brewers when they lost Cesar Itzuris to the waiver process. Segura will be up for the rest of the season. Defensively, he is likely ready to handle the major leagues, but he will likely be a bit of a liability on offense at this point (even though he had a 1.033 OPS in his short time at AA for Milwaukee). He should still have value in stolen bases, but will bat near the bottom of the order damaging any other value he might have.
Travis Snider was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline He was of course tearing up AAA to the tune of a 1.021 OPS. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Oh, you have, it was 2009 when Snider was 21 years old and had a 1.094 OPS over 48 games. Is Snider a different player this time? I’m not convinced, but the Blue Jays should give him the rest of the season to find out. He certainly seems to have made some changes both personally and professionally. Snider was just about league average as a 21 and 22 year old, so that’s about what I’d expect from him for the rest of this season – 10 to 12 homeruns with 30 to 40 RBIs and a batting line of .255/.310/.450.
Eric Young is another beneficiary of Michael Cuddyer’s re-injury. The Colorado Rockies will likely leave him in the starting lineup and hitting leadoff for the rest of the year. He could make the difference for you in stolen bases and runs. He should be owned in all formats except the shallowest of leagues. Even though he is hot, he still remains a batting average risk and at 27 years old is no longer a hot prospect.
Brett Jackson made his MLB debut for the Chicago Cubs this month and through 47 PAs he has struck out 23 times! That is an amazing ratio and one you certainly don’t want near any H2H points league were strikeouts are penalized. This issue is no surprise to anyone who has seen his numbers from the minors. I think he’s not valuable in any league for the rest of the season. In keeper leagues, I would monitor his progress to see how he does in cutting down those strikeouts. If he can, he’s still an attractive combination of power and speed and at 23 years old certainly has more time to develop.
I was listening to the July 20 Baseball America podcast and they were discussing San Francisco Giants minor league outfielder Gary Brown. They mentioned how recently the coaching staff changed the position of his hands when batting. When Brown was signed by the Giants he was told that he would likely need to change. However, the staff allowed him to continue to bat the way he had until he failed. They thought he would get tied up inside as he moved up in the minor leagues.
Why mention this? I light of the suspension for Melky Cabrera, the Giants could be looking for some outfield help for the stretch run. On Saturday, Andrew Baggarly tweeted that Gary Brown was playing left field for the first time (indeed the first time he’d played anywhere but center field). Keep tabs on Brown as his mix of power and speed could be a welcome addition to your September roster. The standard Giants/Bochy caveat applies in that Brown being under the age of 30 will likely be relegated to the bench and get four at bats per week.
Jaime Garcia will return on Sunday for the St. Louis Cardinals from a shoulder injury which was thought to have ended his season. Garcia’s return puts Joe Kelly in the bullpen though the speculation is that Kelly may see some spot starts as they attempt to limit Lance Lynn’s or Adam Wainwright’s innings. Garcia pitched well in his short rehab. I would tread cautiously with him as it was assumed that surgery was the only option for complete recovery. Shoulder injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from fully so he’s only an option in deeper leagues.
It is time to cut bait on Vance Worley before the Philadelphia Phillies do. It’s not Worley’s fault. He’s pitching through an elbow injury which will require offseason surgery. I do not see any reason for the Phillies to continue to run him out to the mound every five days. The Phillies aren’t going to the playoffs this season and it would be better to get Worley’s injury fixed so he can have as much time as possible to recover.
Steve Cishek seems to have nailed down the chairman’s spot in the Miami Marlins closer by committee. Heath Bell has performed well in lower leverage situations (perhaps based on a fix to a mechanical flaw), but I do not see him reclaiming his spot as the closer this year. I still believe that Bell is the closer long term in Miami due to his contract. He should get every chance to win back his spot during spring training next season, but Bell is useless in all leagues except those with holds.
Jeremy Affeldt has been added to the closer mix for the San Francisco Giants with the acquisition of Jose Mijares. And that mix looks different than it did a couple of weeks ago as Santiago Casilla is out and Sergio Romo is now the right handed portion of the committee. Even Clay Hensley picked up a save on Saturday. This bullpen is a mess for fantasy purposes. I would cut bait on Casilla and I don’t see Mijares as getting any chances. I still think Romo (the right hander) is the best bet to have the most saves going forward especially if Bruce Bochy continues to try to play matchups in the late innings.
Jim Henderson is Canadian. He pitches for the Milwaukee Brewers who have perhaps the worst bullpen this side of Anaheim. Jim Henderson has three saves in four chances. Have stranger things happened at the back end of bullpens? Sure, Billy Taylor collected 99 saves for the Oakland A’s after the age of 34. How many saves did Taylor have before that? One. Henderson is probably the head of the bullpen for now, but the leash is short. I think if Henderson struggles, they would go back to John Axford (another Canadian). He’s certainly more in the long term plans for the Brewers than Francisco Rodriguez.
Dale Thayer is back to the closer for the San Diego Padres. Huston Street’s injury is said to keep him out until September. Thayer will probably have a long leash as the Padres haven’t seemed interested in upsetting the current bullpen roles in the past should a replacement closer struggle.
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.