If you recall from my Week 2 waiver wire column, I talked about two potential off the radar closer possibilities. This week, both Junichi Tazawa for the Boston Red Sox and Scott Maine for the Chicago Cubs have been recalled. In Boston watch how the roles play out, but if Tazawa starts getting high leverage opportunities, it will be time to snag him (especially in leagues with holds). In 7 IP at AAA this year, He had a 9/2 K /BB ratio and 1 save. He looked good on Friday getting 5 outs on 13 pitches.
As for Maine, the initial report is that he’ll pitch in middle relief and that is where MLB Depth Charts has him initially. Call me crazy, but I think he has a chance to sneak into the back end of the bullpen should Marmol falter. Kerry Wood’s injury history leads me to believe he could be out for a while and Rafael Dolis is a house of cards (1/5 K /BB ratio) waiting for a stiff breeze to knock him down.
Now, for the rest of the story….
American League Waiver Wire
Ryan Doumit is starting to heat up (.318 BA, 1 HR, 5 RBI and 3 runs in the last seven days) and there is talk of the Twins bringing up a third catcher so that Doumit and Joe Mauer can be in the lineup at the same time. He’s still owned in only 10% of Yahoo! leagues and I’d like him over J.P. Arencibia.
In deeper leagues, I would look at Luke Scott (if first base eligible; owned in 22% of leagues) of the Tampa Bay Rays. In the last seven days he has 3 HRs and 11 RBIs. He is a notoriously streaky hitter and looks to be locked in. He’s a good option for the near term, but know that you may need to pull him from the lineup quickly.
With the Jacoby Ellsbury injury, Mike Aviles has moved to the top of a powerful lineup. He’s owned in 57% of Yahoo! leagues. He probably came into the year with second base and third base eligibility and is on his way to picking up shortstop eligibility in the next ten days. He’s scored 5 runs in the last seven days. If I need steals and runs, I’d rather have Aviles in my lineup than Jhonny Peralta.
Eduardo Nunez of the New York Yankees will have some opportunities while Brett Gardner is out for the next few weeks. He’s got huge stolen base upside and plays in a strong lineup.
The optioning of Reid Brignac to AAA solidifies Sean Rodriguez’s hold on the Tampa Bay Rays shortstop job. He’s not going to be the solution to all of your problems, but should have some pop while sacrificing batting average.
The Baltimore Orioles have been a disappointment as a team for a decade and a half. However, things may be looking up for one Oriole – Nolan Reimold. Reimold is batting leadoff for the Orioles so he’ll have an opportunity to score runs, but he’s shown uncanny power for a leadoff man with 4 HRs already. He’s owned in 56% of Yahoo! leagues. He did hit 25 HRs in AA in 2008, but I don’t expect the power to stay. He does have a .376 OBP in the minors over his career so should continue to be an asset as long as he stays at the top of that lineup.
I was remiss last week in not addressing the other Boston Red Sox outfielders affected by Jacoby Ellsbury’s injury. Cody Ross has been hot since Ellsbury’s injury and is set to be the starting center fielder for the next two months. He’s been a true platoon player with nearly 200 point difference in OPS so his exposure to right-handers will have a negative effect on his batting average. He is only owned in 14% of leagues.
Another under-owned leadoff hitter is Cleveland Indians’ Michael Brantley. Only owned in 6% of leagues he’s scored 6 runs in the last seven days and he’s got the leadoff spot locked up.
Thank you for putting Matt Harrison’s ownership over 50% this week. I now know that you are reading and acting on my tips!
I don’t know how long it will last, but Bartolo Colon has looked great in the early season. He hasn’t pitched against the 1927 Yankees (or even the 1927 Tigers), but he’s only walked two batters in 27 1/3 innings. He’s owned in 36% of leagues and could be a good plug and play option for leagues with deep benches.
Owned in only 1% of Yahoo! Leagues, Daisuke Matsuzaka heads out on his rehab assignment on Monday. Early reports have him hitting 94 mph in extended spring training. His rehab stint can last no longer than 30 days so he could be back in Boston’s rotation near the end of May. He’s a potential WHIP-killer, but could help in wins with Boston’s offense behind him.
Drew Hutchison is set to make his major league debut for the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. He had a monster year last year striking out 171 batters in 149 1/3 innings over three levels in the minors last year. I think I’d wait and see on Hutchison as I’m not sure he’s ready to go quite yet. However, if he succeeds early, he’s got a rotation spot until Dustin McGowan returns from the DL.
And I don’t believe in Jason Hammel, do I? No, I don’t. No, I can’t. Well, not yet. He was a sabermetrician’s darling a couple of years ago and never put it all together. Wait and see on Hammel though 19 Ks in 18 IP is hard to ignore.
I am a little light on American League reliever recommendations this week (beyond Tazawa as noted above). I continue to believe in Chicago White Sox reliever Hector Santiago even with his speed bump this week. And Chris Perez continues to look like a poor option for Cleveland with Vinnie Pestano being the clear replacement should Perez falter. I also wrote earlier about the lack of depth in the Seattle Mariners bullpen. It seems that Tom Wilhelmsen has stepped up as the backup to Brandon League. However, he’s not shown this type of pitching acumen in the minors. Tread carefully.
National League Waiver Wire
In two catcher leagues, if you have a player like Rod Barajas in one of those spots, I suggest you make a move for Josh Thole of the New York Mets. He’s going to hit an empty .280, but won’t harm you nearly as much as Barajas will. If Thole is not your flavor, I’d also check out Nick Hundley from the San Diego Padres. He’s never been able to stay healthy or keep a full-time job. He had an .824 OPS in 308 PAs and could certainly be a useful second catcher if he gets 120 games played this year.
Chase Headley had a two homer game this week. He’s often overlooked because he plays half of his games in Petc0. He will contribute in all five categories and is owned in 57% of Yahoo! leagues. I like him better than a player like Mark Trumbo (in a mixed league) because Trumbo has no clear path to playing time.
Depending on your league eligibility rules, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter may qualify at first base, third base or both. He’s currently owned in 13% of Yahoo! leagues. He’s been batting fifth regularly with Lance Berkman injured. Now, that Berkman is on the DL, Carpenter has a chance to show what he can do. He was ranked around #10 in Cardinals prospect rankings prior to the start of the year. He’s never had more than 13 HRs in a minor league season, but he is a career .300 hitter with solid power numbers otherwise. He will likely help in BA and RBIs, but don’t expect a ton of HRs as you might from other first basemen. Should Carpenter falter, don’t forget about big Matt Adams. He has prototypical first base power, but the Cardinals are likely to leave him at AAA for more seasoning.
In deeper leagues, some impatient owner may have dumped Neil Walker of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I’ve hammered into people the importance of lineup position and Walker is still hitting clean up for the Pirates. He started the season very slowly, but he has all 5 of this season’s RBIs this season in the last seven days. He’s owned in 62% of all Yahoo! leagues.
Over the last few days, it looks like the Cincinnati Reds Drew Stubbs has figured it out. He hit his first home run of the year on Thursday night. He’s brought his average up to .229 (by hitting .304 over the last five games). He’s never going to hit for a high average (probably around .250), but he’s a candidate for a 20 HR/40 SB year. He’s owned in 82% of Yahoo! leagues so in those shallow leagues grab him and ride the streak.
And now we are in danger of being a St. Louis Cardinals column, as we look at Allen Craig (owned in 23% of leagues) and his potential return from the DL. Craig had 11 HRs in 219 PAs last year. Craig has health and playing time issues with the Cardinals, but he could have value if injuries continue to take their toll. He also has positional flexibility and could play second base if Daniel Descalso cannot continue to hit.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have Juan Rivera batting fifth behind the hot Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. He’s owned in only 11% of leagues, but he’s got 7 runs and 7 RBIs on this season. He’ll continue to have opportunities as long as Ethier and Kemp stay hot.
Gerardo Parra of the Arizona Diamondbacks is only owned in 3% of leagues, but he’s going to play regularly for the next three weeks while Chris Young is out. He’s got solid across the board skills and should be picked up for the near term. And if Young (or Justin Upton’s) injuries linger he would be in line for regular playing time.
In deeper leagues, Philadelphia Phillies Vance Worley still makes an attractive option. Owned in 62% of leagues, he’s struck out over a batter per inning in the young season. His ownership should be closer to 80% and I’d rather have him for the rest of the year than Johan Santana.
A.J. Burnett of the Pittsburgh Pirates should return from the DL in the next ten days. Somehow he is only owned in 10% of all Yahoo! leagues. I know that he cannot be expected to win a ton of games with the Pirates, but his career numbers in the NL are better than average. He has a 3.73 ERA over seven seasons with a 1.284 WHIP and a 7.9 K/9 rate. He’s likely to be a .500 pitcher, but if he can get close to his career NL numbers he’ll have some value.
Chris Narveson is likely out for the year with a rotator cuff injury so a spot in the Milwaukee Brewers rotation. Marco Estrada will get first crack with Wily Peralta waiting in the wings at AAA. Estrada had 88 Ks in 92 IP last year as both a starter and reliever. He started 9 games last year for the Brewers and wasn’t quite as dominant as he was as a reliever, but his ratios were certainly more than acceptable at 7.7 K/9 and 2.86 K/BB. I think the Brewers will keep Peralta at AAA as long as Estrada is serviceable. Estrada is owned in only 1% of leagues.
Finally, if someone wants to trade Mat Latos to you, don’t show him Latos’ monthly stats for his career. His 6.28 ERA for March and April is far and away the worst of any month for him. He may even be out there on a waiver wire in very shallow leagues. Check with his owner and see what he’d take for him.
Bruce Bochy has stated that Santiago Casilla will get the majority of save opportunities for the San Francisco Giants. Casilla has a little track record as a closer from last year. He may not be the best pitcher in that bullpen, but he’s going to have the opportunity and I would bid as if he keeps the job the entire year. And I agree with Jeff Erickson’s sentiment on Twitter that Javier Lopez’s save opportunity on Friday night was an anomaly (and Lopez imploded to boot).
Last week, I recommended going with Henry Rodriguez over Brad Lidge. He picked up the save Friday night after getting the last save opportunity prior to Friday’s game. He’s got three of the last four saves for the Washington Nationals and continues to be my pick to get the majority of saves for the Nationals going forward.
That’s it for this week. See you in the same spot next week. Shoot me a note on Twitter or in the comments if you have any other questions as I can’t cover everyone here. And a special thank you to MLB Depth Charts again. Make sure to follow Jason Martinez, the founder, on Twitter for breaking roster news. No one does it better.
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.