November 25, 2014

Fantasy Baseball: Sleepers and busts to fix your draft

Welcome back to Fantasy Baseball coverage for 2013 at District Sports Page. I apologize for not being around to help with your drafts, but giving away some of my draft ideas and plans did not help me in my local drafts last season. So, I’m back now after all the drafts have been completed to help you with this introductory column and weekly waiver wire columns. So, you’ve drafted your team and you aren’t happy. I’m here to help.

Hopefully, you took to heart the advice I gave last year with regard to draft strategy here and here. Did I change anything from last year to this year? Yes, and here is what I changed:

Two buck chuck

In my budget in past years, I usually made sure to have two or more $1 players in my auction leagues. I found this would leave me hamstrung as the endgame came around. So, this year, I budgeted $2 for a few positions (more than I usually budgeted at $1) hoping that I could better control the late round picks.

Did it work? I believe so (but of course time will tell). By budgeting a bit more for the end game, I was (in my 11 team NL-only league) I was able to snag Evan Gattis as my second catcher for $4 and Trevor Rosenthal for $3 (to back up my $4 Mitchell Boggs). I still ended up with some $1 players (Chris Heisey, Scott Hairston, Nick Hundley, Arodys Vizcaino and Jimmy Henderson), but I was able to grab two players who have a tremendous upside for this year and beyond.

Injuries

If you have DL spots in your league, make sure they are full all the time. You have the spots, you should use them. You’ve paid for them, put players in there.  You can use the MLB site to track injuries (though it does not allow for sorting) to identify specific targets. CBS Sports also has a listing and their commissioner tool offers a way to sort through the position, status and type.

There are obvious names on there that will be able to help you later in the season (with a couple of notes):

Chase Headley
Curtis Granderson
Hanley Ramirez
Derek Jeter
David Ortiz
Jason Motte – I have suspicion we won’t see much of Mr. Motte this year. When I first heard the news, I immediately thought of two words – Tommy John. I’d pay extra for Mitchell Boggs and Trevor Rosenthal. Also, if you want to bet with me, I’ll take the under on one inning pitched this season for Motte.
Mark Teixeira – though, I wouldn’t touch him with your ten foot pole. I put the over under on plate appearances for him this year at 150 and I’ll take the under.
Corey Hart – Notoriously undervalued. Does nothing extraordinarily well, but provides value in all categories.
Matt Garza
Brandon Beachy
Adam Eaton

Beyond the obvious names, who can contribute to your team later in the season, but might be flying under the radar?

Danny Duffy – He is due back around mid-season and should be able to slot into the Royals rotation for the stretch run.

Avisail Garcia – Garcia made the major league roster Sort of. He was placed on the 15 day DL and as a result could be stashed on your roster. Garcia is an insurance policy for a Tigers outfield with an unproven starter (Andy Dirks) and an aging center fielder (Torii Hunter). Garcia is a sneaky stash on a great offense.

Cory Luebke – I’d monitor Luebke before adding as he was shut down from his throwing program for a while. Make sure that he is progressing before adding him. He could have some value especially pitching in San Diego.

Hiroyuki Nakajima – Pass. He’s not made for major leagues and won’t have a career at all. No need to roster him unless you are in a league made up only of Oakland A’s players.

Martin Perez – Perez’s luck ran out in spring training after breaking his arm on a come backer. I think he gets the chance at the fifth starter role for the Rangers as soon as he’s healthy. They currently have Nick Tepesch in that spot and I don’t hold any hope that he can keep it for any length of time. Oh, he’s only 22 years old.

Arodys Vizcaino – He should return sometime in August and he could be the closer for the Cubs by that point (having dealt or release Carlos Marmol and traded Kyuji Fujikawa after building up value in him as a closer). Vizcaino is still only 22 years old.

Penny stocks

As I did last season, I will leave you with a list of players who have a modicum of an iota of a chance to provide some value this year and no one is drafting these players. I’ve tried to focus on players who will make the final 25-man roster, but there are certainly a couple of players on here who will start in the minors. Last year, I identified Todd Frazier, Jordan Pacheco and Robbie Ross. Each provided more than an iota of support to many a winning fantasy franchise. They weren’t the best player by any stretch, but certainly provided solid statistics.

Even though your draft is most likely done, these guys are probably hanging around somewhere for you pick them up. We will use Fantasy Pros’ consolidated ADP rankings.

Catcher: Catcher is a deep position this year. In fact, in the NL, there are so many catchers that should return positive value; you can find guys all over the waiver wire. I’ll go beyond the top 32 catchers drafted and pull out Nick Hundley in San Diego. He has the starting job by default with Yasmani Grandal’s suspension for 50 games. In 2011, he slashed to a 288/347/477/824 line over 307 PAs. Then, 2012 happened and injuries crushed his value. Now healthy, Hundley scorched Spring Training to the tune of 1.064 OPS over 53 ABs. He did strike out 14 times, so he’s not a great choice in head to head points’ league, but he’s going to have 50 games to establish himself as the starting catcher in San Diego.

If Evan Gattis is eligible at catcher in your league, grab him. He may not be able to field well, but he sure can hit. He’s going to be given a chance early to establish himself as a backup catcher. If he can fill that role well enough, he could stick even when Brian McCann returns.

First baseman: Old guys get no love in fantasy baseball and this year is no exception. Lance Berkman moves to Texas on a one-year deal and is just one year removed from a 31 HR 94 RBI season with a .959 OPS. Sure, he’s old and could get hurt, but where are you going to get this kind of upside from this late in a draft? If he’s available in any league (even the shallowest of leagues) he should be on a roster today. He was a H2H points league stud for many years. He’s even more valuable in those leagues.

Digging deeper I like a little know power hitter named Nate Freiman. He’s a Rule 5 draft pick out of the Padres organization this season. He was drafted by the Houston Astros and then waived and claimed by the Oakland Athletics. The A’s have shown they will platoon late into the night as four of the nine positions are currently noted as platoons at MLB Depth Charts (now on Baseball Prospectus). He’s shown above average power in the minors and great on base skills, but he’s been a bit old for each level along the way. This may be his one and only chance to prove his worth. He’s worth a $1 bid in the deepest of leagues.

Sitting at AAA is Cuban import Leslie Anderson (probably also an outfielder in your league) of the Tampa Bay Rays. Joe Maddon remarked early in camp that Anderson was a different player. He’s 30 years old and will sit at AAA until the Mad Tinkerer needs another bat for the bench.

Second baseman: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, Brian Roberts is healthy. Well, if you’ve only been playing fantasy baseball for the last three seasons then you haven’t heard it. He looks healthy and says he’s healthy. He made it through spring training with nary a scratch. He was a stud second baseman for many years as he regularly hit 40+ doubles, stole 30+ bases and hit .280+. The Orioles are going to ease him back into the lineup as they have him slated to hit ninth. He’s worth the gamble this late.

Third baseman: I see a little of Edwin Encarnacion in the Atlanta Braves Juan Francisco. Both are free-swinging Dominican third basemen who spent a few years in the minors for the Reds. For some reason, his platoon-mate Chris Johnson (who is on the short side of the platoon) is being drafted ahead of him. Will Francisco be EE? No. Do I have an unexplainable affinity for EE and anyone who reminds me of him? Yes. That said, he’s got the job and he’s got an opportunity. He’s got a huge contact problem, but the power upside is there.

Shortstop: Jean Segura didn’t light the world on fire last year as he slashed 264/321/331 last year in 163 PAs for the Brewers. However, he does have the prospect pedigree in the recent past to assume there is likely more to come from Segura. Not every rookie will arrive on the scene like Bryce Harper or Mike Trout. Segura holds a career .367 OBP in the minor leagues and offers 25+ SB skill for deeper leagues.

Outfield: Beyond the top 100 outfielders sits a 25 year old first baseman playing right field for the Minnesota Twins. He’s had some strikeout issues in the minors, but a full year’s worth of plate appearances could lead to a 20 HR season out of someone that nobody is drafting. Chris Parmelee is worth in look in deeper leagues. His fellow Twins’ outfielder Darin Mastroianni is also worth a gamble based on his ability to steal bases. He’s a hedge on Aaron Hicks developing at the major league level after skipping AAA when Hicks development has been relatively slow.

Most people see the Houston Astros as a fantasy wasteland. I see them as an opportunity. Justin Maxwell squeaks in at #101 on the Fantasy Pros average and he’s that perfect blend of power and speed (think Michael Saunders of 2012) to hit enough to keep him in the lineup so that he can flash his plus-plus defense in center field

Deeper in the Astros outfield we find Brandon Barnes and Rick Ankiel in another platoon*. Ankiel is all power and nothing else (unless he finds his fastball again). Barnes is a sneaky play (on the weaker side of the platoon). They are both in the lineup because Fernando Martinez is hurt. Fernando Martinez will always be hurt. He has a degenerative condition in his knees that’s not going away. Barnes has shown good on base skills in the minors and could contribute a bit in the SB department as he had 22 over three levels last year.

* I assume that the move Platoon will be remade as a baseball moving starring Brad Pitt in the lead role as either Billy Beane again or Jeffrey Luhnow. Both the Astros and A’s are probably going to attempt to platoon everyone they can..maybe they will go with home and road managers…why not?

Will Jayson Werth stay healthy? Will Adam LaRoche? Neither are bastions of health and the potential beneficiary is Tyler Moore. Moore had 10 HRs in 171 PAs in the majors in 2012. He had back to back 30+ HR seasons in 2010 and 2011. He strikes out a ton so he’s a batting average risk, but regular playing time could allow him to run into 20+ HRs for a team that has World Series aspirations.

Khristopher Davis spells his first name incorrectly, but I won’t hold that against him. The Brewers can use some power on their bench and Davis will likely provide that.

Chris Heisey can play CF. Shin Soo Choo will play CF, but it’s unclear if he can. Ryan Ludwick is old. Heisey has skills, but he’s hidden on the bench. Grab him and see what comes of the Reds outfield. They have a ton of offensive weapons and a friendly ballpark so take the risk.

Starting pitchers: Jake Arrieta’s ERA underperformed his FIP by over two runs last season. He certainly seemed to be just a wee bit unlucky. Arrieta is no longer young, but perhaps he’s matured a bit. He was effective in 17 1/3 innings in Spring Training though he did walk eight in those innings. He’s got a chance against a weakened AL East to provide league average production.

Arrieta’s rotation-mate Chris Tillman ended his season on a high note. Many of have said that it’s a fluke. However, the improvement was driven by an increase in velocity and refined slider control. He’s nicely covered by Chris Cwik at Fangraphs here. I’d pay the extra buck for him.

Can John Lackey still pitch? If he can still pitch can he stay healthy? I’m not sure he has a chance of doing either well. The sixth starter for the Red Sox is Allen Webster (and not the electric-armed Rubby de la Rosa) in my opinion. Webster showed this Spring Training that the Red Sox may have gotten a viable piece to the major league puzzle all while dumping tons of salary on the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Red Sox moved his position on the mound and it looks like he can now attack hitters in myriad ways that he couldn’t before. He’s got the upside of a #2 starter at the major league level. Monitor him at AAA.

Vance Worley was great last year. Until he wasn’t. And he wasn’t because of an injury. He attempted to pitch through elbow problems and couldn’t do it. He had surgery and looks to be 100% healthy. He won’t win a lot of games for the Minnesota Twins, but should offer support in ERA and WHIP as he pitches in a friendly home ballpark.

Joe Blanton isn’t attractive…as a fantasy pitcher. Until you dig a little deeper. He moves from an unfriendly ballpark in Philadelphia to a much friendlier one in Anaheim which should help with Blanton’s biggest flaw – the long ball. The Angels should be a good, not great team this season and he should pick up 13 to 15 wins and be just a bit better than league average in ERA and WHIP. There’s value there that no one else can see.

Relief pitchers: Sergio Romo’s arm will fall off this season. No, I’m not a doctor, but Romo throws sliders more often than an Applebee’s waitress. Those sliders wreak havoc on a young man’s elbow. And Romo isn’t a young man. So, I’d target Santiago Casilla (no, let’s not speak about Brian Wilson) as one of the most likely late inning relievers to pick up saves. He’s likely floating around your waiver wire somewhere.

Going back to the Houston Astros’ well one more time, Rule 5 pickup Josh Fields could see some save opportunities. There isn’t a reason that the Astros would keep Jose Veras in the closer’s role all season (or that he has the skills to keep it). Fields has closer worthy skills and may have an opportunity in the second half of the season to showcase them after Veras is dealt or loses the job.

I love Junichi Tazawa. I touted him all the way back in Week 2 of last season. I think he’s the best pitcher in the Boston Red Sox bullpen. Joel Hanrahan ended last season swerving all over the place and looks to have continued that into spring training. Andrew Bailey is a china doll. Daniel Bard is in AA. Koji Uehara seems to prefer being the setup man to the main man, but he certainly has the skills to step into the role. Tazawa will hold value now and it would just increase if he moves to the closer’s role.

Finally, Kyuji Fujikawaa of the Chicago Cubs is a better pitcher now than Carlos Marmol can ever hope to be. Pay more for Fujikawa than Marmol.

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.

Washington Nationals Prospects Rendon, Giolito, Goodwin on Baseball America’s Top 100

Baseball America released the 2013 edition of their popular annual Top 100 Prospects List today. Three Washington Nationals prospects, Anthony Rendon (No. 30), Lucas Giolito (No. 67) and Brian Goodwin (No. 70) ranked.

Fourteen organizations had more prospects on the list, with the Cardinals, Marlins and Twins leading the way with six each. Behind the Marlins, the Nationals were second among NL East division clubs. The Mets had three prospects listed, while the Braves and Phillies had two a piece.

All three of the Nats that ranked were first-round draft picks.The club took Lucas Giolito with the 16th overall pick last June. The year before, Rendon and Goodwin were selected sixth and 34th overall. The Nats actually drafted Alex Meyer (No. 59) between them, at 23rd overall, but traded him to the Twins for Denard Span this offseason.

Along with Trevor Rosenthal (No. 39), Brian Goodwin was one of two included prospects selected out of junior college.

In their “Top 100: Best Tools” article, which names the prospects with the most impressive skills, BA rated Lucas Giolito as having the third-best fastball among the Top 100, and the second-best curveball. That’s high praise for the eighteen-year-old kid; especially considering the Nats only drafted him out of high school last June, and he threw just two innings in his Aug. 14th professional debut before leaving with a sprained elbow.

[Read more…]

Fantasy Baseball: Scouting the Waiver Wire — Week 22

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

Catcher

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.

Corner infielder

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.

Middle infielder

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.

Outfield

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.

Starting Pitcher

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.

Relief Pitcher

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

Catcher

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.

Corner infielder

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.

Middle infielder

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.

Outfield

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.

Starting Pitcher

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.

Relief Pitcher

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.

Fantasy baseball: Second half targets and pickups

As we come out of the All-Star break, it is time to reassess where our teams are. Do we have a chance to get into the money? Do we mortgage the future to make a run for a flag? Who should we target for the second half? Who should perform better in the second half? Who will be worse? If we aren’t running for the flag, who do we target to build up our fallen dynasty?

In single or redraft leagues, the question is a bit tougher to answer. You owe it to the other players in your league to play out the string. If you have an injured player, replace him. If you get a trade offer, respond to it. Play the remainder of the season like you did the first two weeks.

I’ve been on my own little All-Star break over the last week or so as work has gotten in the way of this fantasy island. As Hervé Villechaize said “The plane! The plane!” – Let’s see who our guests are this week.

There is no such thing as a second-half player

You will hear many folks spout off and say that second half players do not exist. The sample sizes are too small. There is no reason for a player to be worse in the first half and better in the second half. I say hogwash! There must be something to it. Well, let’s look at some players to target who have shown these splits over their career.

Mark Teixeira

Pre All-Star break – .268/.362/.506
Post All-Star break – .294/.381/.557

Teixeira started the second half off with a bang. He’s much like our friend Mr. Ramirez discussed later. He’s been a consistent second half performer throughout his long career. If you need just about anything (other than stolen bases) he is a great target.

Max Scherzer

Pre All-Star break – 4.31 ERA, 1.378 WHIP,
Post All-Star break – 3.60 ERA, 1.222 WHIP, 706 OPS against.291/.349/.523

Scherzer is a tough one to recommend completely. He has really looked awful at times, but his peripheral statistics show he should be much better than he is. For those who have a higher risk tolerance (or really need to make a push) Scherzer is a good guy to target in a deal. If you cannot easily move players in and out of your lineup, I might hedge a bit on acquiring him.

Aramis Ramirez

Pre All-Star break – .277/.337/.478
Post All-Star break – .291/.349/.523

Perhaps more impressive than the 50 points of OPS is that Ramirez has five more home runs in the second half in his career in almost 800 fewer plate appearances. He’s consistently produced well in the second half. He’s a great target in all formats if you are in need of power.

Cliff Pennington

Pre All-Star break – .235/.297/.331
Post All-Star break – .266/.334/.386

For deeper leagues, Cliff Pennington of the Oakland Athletics is a great pickup for those looking for SBs. He’s generally buried near the bottom of the lineup, but should be a cheap acquisition in deeper leagues.

Luke Scott

Pre All-Star break – .246/.325/.469
Post All-Star break – .274/.361/.507

Scott is one of the streakiest players around. He can hit seven homeruns in a week and then not hit another for three weeks. If you need to make a push in the power department, Scott is a cheap option.

Adam Wainwright

Pre All-Star break – 3.36 ERA            1.23 WHIP 7.992 K/9
Post All-Star break – 2.83 ERA          1.20 WHIP 7.824 K/9

Wainwright’s numbers are actually strikingly similar in the two halves of a season (except for the half run difference in ERA). Wainwright’s on this list because I think he will continue to improve in the second half on his way back to being a front line starter for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Gavin Floyd

Pre All-Star break – 4.81 ERA 1.35 WHIP 6.849 K/9
Post All-Star break – 4.06 ERA 1.29 WHIP 7.392 K/9

Floyd’s latest injury gives me pause on recommending him, however I still think he’s got a solid chance to be an above average performer in the second half. Monitor his injury status over the next week and be ready to make a deal.

I mean what I say when I say regress to the mean!

Brian McCann has been awful for the first half of the year. Now, I generally do not recommend catchers as big second half players as the belief is the physical demands of catching wear on a player over time and his hitting suffers along with the physical breakdown.  However, McCann has been awful this year hitting only .240/.303/.426 when his career line is .282/.354/.481. I have a hunch he gets back towards his career averages in the second half of 2012. And that hunch is based not on stats, but on this. His conversation and hitting session with his brother (a former professional baseball player) is just the thing McCann could need to get over any mental hurdles he has.

Dan Uggla was almost in my splits section above, but I thought the spread wasn’t big enough to include. However, his 12 homeruns in the first half leaves a lot of room to get back to his usual 30 homerun total. He will kill your batting average (I don’t see him getting past .240 for the year), but he likely has 17 to 20 HRs left for the second half.

Cliff Lee had one win in the first half. I will go out on a limb and say he will have more than that in the second half. I know the Phillies are a miserable team, but they do get Halladay back this month and Lee should pitch well enough to pick up a few more wins along with his superior WHIP.

Kevin Youkilis struggled mightily for the Boston Red Sox. His relationship with manager Bobby Valentine could have been labeled toxic at best. He was a classic “change of scenery” player and he’s shown to be that so far in his time with the Chicago White Sox. He is still only 33 and there is plenty of evidence that his last two season (2011 and 2012) in Boston were fraught with discord (and injury). As long as Youkilis stays healthy, I can see him approaching his career .875 OPS over the remainder of the season.

Jemile Weeks has a very short career record in the major leagues, but what he does shows a big split in first half/second half. Weeks seems to be slowing dragging himself out of his funk. If you need SBs and batting average over the second half he is your man.

Mat Latos’ first year with the Cincinnati Reds started off quite poorly. He’s righted the ship recently and I can see that improvement continuing in the second half. The only numbers out of line with history are his HR/9 and that was to be expected based on the move from Petco to Great American. We will see him finish with an ERA below 3.75 and above average numbers all around.

Tim Lincecum – Nope, I’m still not recommending him. I don’t see him being useful in any league the rest of the season. Something is wrong with him (injury, mechanical, etc.). Nope, I don’t believe his last start. Nope.

Are you Ryan Vogelsong? No? Because you sure look like him.

Mike Fiers seems to have come out of nowhere for the Milwaukee Brewers just like Ryan Vogelsong last year for the San Francisco Giants. Fiers’ statistics are even more impressive than Vogelsong’s. However, can Fiers sustain it or is he just another Josh Collmenter? Nathaniel Stoltz wrote an in-depth analysis of Fiers at Beyond the Boxscore. It is worth the read and gives me reason to recommend him for the remainder of the season – he is not another Josh Collmenter. There is a bit more to him. You may find an owner who wants to sell high on Fiers. I think he will continue to provide value (albeit not quite at this level – perhaps 85 to 90 percent) for the remainder of the season.

What did you say your name was again?

Juan Carlos Ovideo used to be known by a different moniker – Leo Nunez – but he’s the same guy to us. Ozzie Guillen said that the Miami Marlins will go with a closer by committee for the second half. Heath Bell is likely in that committee along with Steve Cishek and Edward Mujica. However, Ovideo is lurking in the shadows as he has just started his way back from suspension. Ovideo has the experience to potentially grab the chair of this committee. Don’t expect a ton of saves out of this bullpen, but Ovideo is a good target for 5-8 saves over the second half. Note: Ovideo was removed from his last minor league game with a sprained UCL so monitor his status. Cishek picked up the first save in the committee.

Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.

Wil Myers is probably ready to make his debut for the Kansas City Royals. However, he doesn’t have a spot yet as the Royals would like to see what they have in Lorenzo Cain. If Myers is called up this year, he won’t see the minor leagues again. He’s been touted as the best or second best hitting prospect in the minor leagues. However, there is a little wrinkle at Yahoo!. Myers is eligible at catcher. If you are in a Yahoo! league go out and grab him now. He’s going to see the majors this year and could give you that extra push to get to the top of the standings or through the playoffs.

I’m out of it. Which prospects should I target?

I’m all for targeting the next hot thing. From Dylan Bundy to Oscar Taveras to Jurickson Profar, there are hundreds of prospects out there from which to choose. I’m not a scout, so I can’t offer anything more than Kevin Goldstein, Jason Parks, Keith Law and the crew at Baseball America can offer. The key to wading through their rankings and reports is to focus on the offensive upside with the knowledge that a prospect’s defense, while not important to fantasy, may hold a player back from promotion to the big leagues. Moreover, just because a hitter’s statistics say he should (or shouldn’t) be promoted doesn’t mean he will (or won’t).

Major league teams generally have a plan with prospects, but there has to be an opening at the major league level for a prospect to fill. I can remember making a push one year and dealing both Mark Teixera and Dallas McPherson from my farm system. One of those players turned into gold, the other, not so much. With the increased focus and information on minor league prospects, they have become overvalued and often require a premium when being dealt.

The undervalued targets in rebuilding trades are those major league players (many of them young) who may be blocked for a job this year, but have an opening next year. As a fantasy owner, you don’t want to be in constant rebuilding mode. You would like to chase championships year after year. A great tool to use when researching opportunities for next year is Cot’s Baseball Contracts (now part of the Baseball Prospectus family). All salary data below is from Cot’s. Here are a few targets for you that might be more easily acquired.

In Minnesota, the Twins are likely going to have a new closer next year. Matt Capps is on the trading block and is likely a free agent after this season (the Twins hold a $6M option with a $250,000 buyout). The two most likely candidates on the roster currently are Glen Perkins and Jared Burton. Perkins is a lefty who was seen as the closer in waiting coming into the season. He is signed through 2015 for just $10.3M. He would be a solid target in most leagues for next season. I wouldn’t pay top dollar as he is far from guaranteed the spot, but he’s got a better shot at picking up saves next year than say Brian Wilson. I give Perkins a 50% chance of holding the job next season for the Twins.

Jared Burton is the other player in the mix for saves in Minnesota current. Burton is the right hander who was signed to a minor league deal this year and is a free agent after the season. He’s had a pretty sordid injury history (including shoulder surgery which forced him to miss most of 2011). I’d rank him behind Perkins at the moment and I’d give him a 5% chance of holding the closer role next year for Minnesota with the field (including Capps) the other 45%.

The Kansas City Royals closer for next year is far from settled. Jonathan Broxton has been dangled in trade talks this year (though there is talk of Kansas City trying to re-sign if he isn’t dealt). The incumbent coming into this year, Joakim Soria, will be coming off of his second Tommy John surgery. Soria is a potential target that should cost next to nothing. Beyond Soria, the Royals have a plethora of arms that could fill in next season. Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Jose Mijares all have some skills which could lend themselves to being a closer. They should all be relatively cheap to acquire as well.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have one of the best fourth outfielders in the majors in the person of Gerardo Parra. The current outfield is comprised of Chris “Eternal Disappointment” Young, Justin “Trading Block” Upton, Jason “Hamstring” Kubel. Parra is a gifted defensive player who can provide some help in all categories. And he’s only 25 years old.

Another set of undervalued players to target are “failed” prospects that are still young enough to have some development in their futures and have fallen out of favor with their current owners.

Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals has been offered up as bait in many of the leagues I’m in. Many people (including this author) saw Hosmer as contending for an MVP award this year. Perhaps we were a bit overzealous based on his hot last two months of 2011. I will call this a gut feeling that we will see a much better Hosmer over the final half of the season. He’s going to be useful in mixed leagues before the season is out and carries the added bonus of being

Domonic Brown just came off of the minor league DL for the Philadelphia Phillies. It seems that he has been around forever, but he is just 24 years old. In 2011, he was basically league average over 210 PAs (99 OPS+) and then was jettisoned to AAA so that Phillies could play Raul Ibanez regularly. His 2012 has been a lost cause due to injuries, but he still has the talent. He many need a change of scenery to unlock the talent, but he’s worth the gamble. He was the #4 prospect prior to 2011 as rated by Baseball America.

We will be back to our regular format next week. And it might even be submitted on time. 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.

Fantasy Baseball: Scouting the Waiver Wire — Week 14

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

Catcher

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.

Corner infielder

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.

Middle infielder

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.

Outfield

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.

Starting Pitcher

With C.C. Sabathia’s and Andy Pettitte’s injuries this week, there are now two open spots in the New York Yankees starting rotation. There are a few options at the Yankees disposal.

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.

Dylan Bundy could make his debut this season for the Baltimore Orioles? I don’t think so, but Buck Showalter may have other ideas.

Relief Pitcher

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

Catcher

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.

Corner infielder

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.

Middle infielder

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.

Outfield

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.

Starting Pitcher

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.

Relief Pitcher

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.

Fantasy Baseball: Scouting the Waiver Wire — Week 13

Trevor Bauer is pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks Thursday! Anthony Rizzo is probably coming up for the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday! It is prospects galore for the upcoming week. Could Dylan Bundy and Jurickson Profar be far behind? Yes, in fact they are far behind so let’s enjoy what we have on the waiver wire this week.

[Read more…]

Fantasy Baseball: Scouting the Waiver Wire — Week 12

I know no one wants to hear about someone else’s fantasy baseball team, but I will bore you for a couple of seconds with the pitching injuries I have been hit with in my 10-team AL-only 4×4 league. In the last couple of weeks I’ve lost John Danks, Derek Holland, Felipe Paulino (picked up for Danks), Drew Smyly, Drew Hutchison (picked up for Paulino) and Alexi Ogando.

So, which pitchers should be used to replace these guys in deeper leagues? Let’s take a look with this week’s waiver wire report. I apologize for the brevity of the piece this week, but work and other priorities have gotten in the way of fantasy baseball!

American League Waiver Wire

Catcher

Bobby Wilson returns for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with Hank Conger being demoted. Pass on Wilson as he offers nothing for fantasy players.

Salvador Perez has been progressing well in his rehab and looks to be back with next week according to Bob Dutton. Perez is a must own in two –catchers leagues and could be an option in shallower leagues and in H2H points leagues with his low strikeout totals in the minors.

Corner infielder

Jack Hannahan has returned from the DL for the Cleveland Indians. He will likely win back the starting third base job (though he’s only playing every other day initially) due to his defensive process, thus relegating Lonnie Chinsenhall to AAA. Hannahan brings little to the fantasy table, but will get ABs for those in AL only leagues.

Brandon Moss had a fantastic week at Coors Field. Most players do. Moss has six home runs this year. I’d be surprised if he has six more for the rest of the year.

Don’t look now, but Baltimore Orioles infielder Mark Reynolds is heating up hitting .409 over the last seven days with 2 HRs. He is notoriously streaky so grab him for the short term especially if you need power.

Middle infielder

Chris Getz was injured on Sunday and was seen walking out of the clubhouse in a protective boot. It seems he’s headed to the DL and Johnny Giavotella will head back to Kansas City. Kansas City has been loath to play Giavotella regularly when he’s been so expect more of the same (which means Yuniesky Betancourt and so I’ll pass).

Trevor Plouffe has the starting third base job in Minnesota. I’m not sure when he’s going to stop hitting home runs, but ride him as long as he does.

Outfield

Ryan Kalish is getting recalled by the Boston Red Sox to replace Ryan Sweeney who is heading to the DL with a toe injury. There has been talk that the Red Sox believe Kalish can be their “spark.” (Inner monologue break: Spark? Like the Nationals with Bryce Harper? The Angels with Mike Trout? Red Sox fans can only hope). Kalish is still just 24 years old, but has been besieged by injuries throughout much of his career. However, he does have an intriguing speed/power mix. He did accumulate a 1.104 OPS during his rehab this year across three levels of the minor leagues. He won’t hit 40 home runs or steal 40 bases, but in full season he could be a 15/15 player. As long as he provides that “spark”, I believe Kalish may be up for good. The Red Sox need to find something to get them going and Kalish may be the answer. Bid aggressively in deeper leagues and monitor in shallow leagues.

Sticking with the Red Sox, it looks like Cody Ross will return from the DL next week. I’m not sure where his playing time will come from, but he could push Scott Podsednik to the bench. If not, he’ll play somewhere and be on the wrong side of a platoon.

It looks like Andy Dirks will stay on the DL until the All-Star break for the Detroit Tigers thus giving Quintin Berry a bit more time in the majors.

There has been talk that the Boston Red Sox will send Carl Crawford out on a rehab assignment in the next week or so. I’ll believe it when I see it, but if he does go out, we could see him back in the lineup by mid-July.

Starting Pitcher

The Toronto Blue Jays’ starting rotation has been decimated with injuries this week. The replacements look to be Brett Cecil, Carlos Villanueva and Jesse Chavez. I’ve always had a soft spot for Cecil as he went to the same high school and university as I did. That said, he looked lost early this year. He was sent to AA to work out his problems. He looked good in his first start back against the Philadelphia Phillies. However, he did give up two HRs in his five innings and the Phillies were 7-14 against lefthanders this year. Cecil will be in the rotation for a long spell unless the Jays make a trade. He’s a potential add in AL-only, but I’d pass in anything shallower.

Carlos Villanueva is also slotted to be moved into the rotation from the bullpen. Villanueva has never been able to succeed as a starter in the major leagues with over a run per inning difference in ERA.  I don’t think the AL East is a good place to try to figure out how to be a starting pitcher so I will pass on Villanueva in all but the deepest of leagues.

Jesse Chavez is the third member of the Blue Jays backup rotation. Chavez is 28 year old journeyman who has 157 2/3 innings of experience over five seasons in the major leagues. He’s pitched surprisingly well at AAA on the launching pad that is Las Vegas. Even with his excellent performance, I would treat him as I would Villanueva and pass on him.

Jacob Turner will be recalled to start for the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Turner came into 2012 as the #22 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America. He was expected to start the season in the Tigers rotation, but injuries during spring training led him to start in the minors. Turner’s results were solid in the minors this year, though his K/9 rate took a huge drop in AAA. I’d be a bit concerned about Turner in the early going. He’s a must add in AL-only leagues, but wait in shallower leagues. Jason Martinez at MLBDepthCharts.com speculates that Turner will stay up potentially shifting Drew Smyly back to AAA when he returns from the DL. I tend to agree with Jason so bid as if Turner is in the rotation for the rest of the season.

Justin Grimm was recalled by the Texas Rangers and won his major league debut on Saturday. I do not see Grimm staying up long term (perhaps one or two more starts) as Roy Oswalt is waiting in the wings. Grimm may get one more start before Oswalt is ready. He’s a good sport start this week against Colorado Rockies at home. For a full scouting report on Grimm, head over to Lone Star Dugout and Jason Cole’s piece on him.

Franklin Morales pitched a gem in his first start of the year for the Boston Red Sox. However, it was against the Chicago Cubs so I’d rather wait to see how he performs against a stauncher opponent before grabbing him.

Relief Pitcher

The Minnesota Twins reported that Matt Capps has a sore shoulder. They hope that he will be able to pitch Tuesday. The bigger question is who would replace Capps should he be hurt (or just as likely be dealt). Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune said that manager Ron Gardenhire would choose between Glen Perkins (the left hander) and Jared Burton (a right hander) based on matchups.

Prior to the start of the year, the thought was that Glen Perkins was the heir apparent and I see him as the stronger speculative bid. He started the season off slowly, but has righted the ship somewhat. Burton looks to have the better “stuff” with a higher K/9 rate, but knowing a bit about how the Minnesota Twins work, they will likely stick with the home grown talent to close out games should Capps miss significant time.

Jonathan Broxton is another closer who could potentially be dealt in the next month to a contending team looking for help in the back of the bullpen. Again, who replaces Broxton if he gets dealt?

Greg Holland was the replacement last season when Joakim Soria missed time and picked up four saves. I think Holland is the speculation play here because he has some experience, is right handed and was considered in spring training to share the role with Broxton. Holland has missed some time this year with a rib injury, but I do not have concerns.

Tim Collins has been extremely successful this year the top lefty out of the pen. He can go multiple innings and I believe the Royals like that flexibility and will keep him in that role.

The Royals also have Aaron Crow, Jose Mijares and Kelvin Herrera. I see those three pitchers staying in their current roles irrespective of who is the closer for the Royals. Crow has an outside chance of being moved into the closer role, but his stuff isn’t quite as good as Holland’s and has no experience in the role.

Ryan Cook has three saves for the Oakland Athletics since last week. He looks to have the job for the remainder of the season barring injury. Brian Fuentes can be dropped as can Grant Balfour (though I would retain Balfour in leagues where holds are a category).

National League Waiver Wire

Catcher

A.J. Ellis looks to be slowing down a bit. I never expected him to keep up his torrid start for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, might be a time to see if you can deal him for someone like a Miguel Montero or Wilin Rosario who I believe will have better numbers for the rest of the year, but are rated below Ellis in standard 5×5 leagues. I’d also consider a deal for Rod Barajas if you are in need of power and can give up the batting average.

Martin Maldonado has likely had his entire career in the last week or so. I do not believe he will continue his run for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Geovany Soto is coming back from the DL on Tuesday. As Fletch might say about Tommy Lasorda, I don’t really like Soto as a fantasy player.

Corner infielder

Pedro Alvarez is back for the Pittsburgh Pirates with four home runs over his last two games. Go out and grab him for the next week or two and then cut him immediately before he goes 0 for eternity with 50 strikeouts. He could help you win an entire week in H2H with his patented hot streaks.

Scott Rolen is set to return from the DL on Monday. I can only assume that Dusty Baker will immediately install him in the lineup and relegate Todd Frazier to Gatorade cup holder or some similar bench role.

Middle infielder

Skip Schumaker is due back for the St. Louis Cardinals this week. The Cardinals always seem to find playing time for everyone. We could see Schumaker move into the mix in center field while Jon Jay continues to mend. This could mean less playing time for Shane Robinson and Ardon Chambers.

Wait! What’s that? It’s a Stephen Drew sighting. Drew playing in his third straight rehab game and the reports I read said he looked good on defense (which speaks to his health). Drew will slot right back into the starting lineup (likely in the number two hole) and provide top 15 SS stats for the remainder of the season. He’s a must add in most formats this week.

Outfield

Bryce Harper is likely heading into his first adjustment period. Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus had an entertaining column regarding the Yankees use of the slider against Harper. While it was partially tongue in cheek, just remember that Harper (and Mike Trout like him) will start facing pitchers who are adjusting to them based on data on their earlier at bats. The key to long term success for any young player is the ability to adjust to those adjustments. I have faith that Harper will adjust, but be aware he may hit some speed bumps along the way.

Jason Bay suffered what looked to be another concussion and is dangerously close to go the route of Corey Koskie. I assume Bay will be out for a long time (potentially the remainder of the season). It looks as though Scott Hairston will get the majority of playing time in left field and is a good add in NL-only leagues.

Dexter Fowler has turned back into a pumpkin going 7-40 over the last 15 days with 15 strikeouts. He’s Babe Ruth at home and a Baby Ruth on the road. In leagues with daily or weekly moves, he’s a good player to have. Otherwise, you will have to live with the ebbs and flows of this mercurial man for the Colorado Rockies.

Starting Pitcher

Tim Lincecum is done for this year for the San Francisco Giants. I do not know why he is done, but he is someone I’d look to unload if I can get 50 cents on the dollar or drop in very shallow leagues. He doesn’t seem to be able to string together multiple good innings and the Giants don’t look like they will skip him in the rotation so he might work on fixing the issues he has.

Marco Estrada will likely be back in the major leagues for the Milwaukee Brewers in two weeks. He will make one to two more rehab starts. The assumption is he will slot back into the rotation and send Michael Fiers back to the minors. I’m not 100% certain that will occur as Fiers has presented himself well in his four starts. I would say that the odds are 75% for Estrada returning to the rotation, but he does have experience in the pen and could move back there.

Jair Jurrjens will be recalled by the Atlanta Braves on Friday to take Brandon Beachy‘s place in the rotation. In reading the tea leaves, there seems to be some concern that Beachy’s elbow injury may be of the long term variety (read: Tommy John surgery). Therefore, Jurrjens has a chance (perhaps his last) to establish himself in the rotation again. Is Jurrjens someone to target in fantasy baseball? In a word, no. His K/9 rate (never great) dipped to 4.5 in his nine starts at AAA this year. He carried a 5.27 ERA and 1.420 WHIP during his time there as well – neither worthy of investment. The only silver lining is that he had pitched better in his last three starts (22 IP, 2.05 ERA, 1.000 WHIP and 3.7 K/9).  I would stay away from him in all but the deepest of leagues as he’s a WHIP threat and his only real value will likely come from wins.

Relief Pitcher

The Washington Nationals designated Brad Lidge for assignment. This could be the end of the road for Lidge and he hasn’t been on the fantasy radar much this year. However, it does give us a chance to discuss the Nationals bullpen in general.

The current closer is currently Tyler Clippard and he has performed extremely well in the role. However, the Nationals did not initially place Clippard in the role when they had the chance preferring to keep him in his eighth inning role. The Nationals also have Drew Storen who is inching ever so close to returning to the active roster perhaps around the All-Star break. I believe they will reinstall Storen as the closer, but Clippard’s emergence in the role does give the Nationals the flexibility to deal Storen for a hitter (such as the widely speculated deal for Denard Span which seems less likely with the logjam of outfielders).  Henry Rodriguez will move back into lower leverage situations and remain third in the pecking order.

Carlos Marmol has returned to the Chicago Cubs closer role. I’m glad so that I don’t have to continue to write about random Cubs relievers who might get a save chance if the Cubs actually have a lead in the ninth inning. I’d bid aggressively on him and know that his WHIP will be awful, but he’s got the other skills to close games relatively effectively. He’ll probably be a bottom ten closer for the rest of the season.

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.

Fantasy Baseball: Scouting the Waiver Wire — Week 11

It’s time to start thinking about making moves to solidify your spot at the top, begin the long slog up the standings or potentially pack it in and build for the future. Part of the focus this week will be to identify trade targets to help you on the pitching side. An important reminder – if statistics told the whole story then computers would run your fantasy team and the smack talk in your league would be much more boring. Take these statistics as an attempt (a far from definitive one) to identify some targets. There may be other qualitative items which can either amplify or diminish the target for you.

American League Waiver Wire

Catcher

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim recalled prospect Hank Conger (4%) from AAA when Bobby Wilson (0%) was put on the DL with a concussion. Conger will likely get the lion’s share of the starts behind the plate until either Wilson or Chris Iannetta (15%) return from the DL. Iannetta is healing faster than expected from his wrist surgery so Conger’s time up may short. Conger’s has always been a fantastic on base man in the minors with a little bit of power. He could be a useful stash for the second half if Iannetta’s injury lingers.

The Detroit Tigers placed Alex Avila (88%) on the DL this week and as expected Gerald Laird (2%) will move into the starting role. Laird’s skill set is limited, but in two catcher leagues, his regular playing time could be useful.

The Kansas City Royals reported that Salvador Perez (18%) will start his rehab assignment on Thursday June 7th. I expect him to take at least ten days (and likely the full 30 days) on his assignment so we could see him back by the middle to end of June. He’s a factor in two catcher leagues.

Hopefully, you were able to deal for Mike Napoli (99%) of the Texas Rangers when I mentioned his cold streak a couple of weeks ago. He’s back to his powerful hitting ways.

Corner infielder

Brandon Moss (1%) was recalled this week as Kila Ka’aihue (3%) was designated for assignment. Moss was immediately installed as the starting first base for the hapless A’s offense (Josh Reddick (98%) notwithstanding). It will be interesting to see how long Moss is the starting first baseman as Ka’ahuie was given about a week before being DFA’d. Moss has some big league experience, but has never been able to capitalize on his opportunities. He’s never played first base until this year in the minors, but I imagine he will get a little bit of a chance to show what he can do. He’s an add in AL-only leagues only. The A’s do have Daric Barton (1%) floating around at AAA who is currently hitting .370/.528/.741 at AAA Sacramento.

Middle infielder

Brian Roberts’ (20%) rehab assignment for the Baltmore Orioles is set to expire on Tuesday June 12. He has not had a set back with his concussion symptoms and I expect him to be reinstated at the top of the lineup immediately, but will get more time off than a full time player. He’s a must add in AL-only and deeper leagues. Monitor him in shallower leagues.

Ben Zobrist (98%) homered twice for the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night. Could he finally be breaking out of his season long slump? He’s been one of the unluckiest hitters in the league and has maintained his walk rate so he seems due for a turn around. Check with your league’s owner to see if he is fed up with Zobrist and willing to deal.

Trevor Plouffe (16%) is starting to do a bit more than hit HRs for the Minnesota Twins and could be solidifiying his hold on the third base job. Power is still his calling card, but could be reaching viability in some shallower leagues.

Outfield

Quintin Berry (21%) is going to stay in the majors for the Detroit Tigers and will be relegated to the fourth outfielder role as Austin Jackson (98%) returns from the DL on Saturday. The real decision for Detroit will occur when Andy Dirks (35%) returns from his Achilles injury. Dirks is expected to return around mid-June. Berry has cooled considerably (.136 over his last five games) so I can now see Dirks being reinstated to full time left fielder and Berry being sent back to AAA. Berry was a nice story, but the Tigers didn’t spend all of that money in the offseason to enjoy nice stories.

I don’t usually recommend Oakland Athletics players who are hitting below .200, but Coco Crisp (32%) looks to finally be heating up (four hits in his last nine at bats including a home run). It has been a lost season for Crisp so far as he struggled with an inner ear issue for the first two months of the season. He looks to be fully healed and his mix of power and speed are useful in almost any league. He did lead the AL in stolen bases last year with 49 (though he played in the most games in a season for him since 2007).

Michael Saunders (33%) has been Mercury-hot the past two weeks and finally earned a trip up the batting order for the Seattle Mariners. Saunders was rated the #30 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season. He’s still just 24 years old so there is some development time left for him. He’s always had less power than his 6’ 4” frame would suggest. However, perhaps this regular playing time has led to further development. He’s got an intriguing mix of power and speed and is a shallow mixed league target now.

Ben Revere (16%) is hitting .413 over the last 14 days. During that time he also has six stolen bases. However, he offers nothing else as 17 of his 19 hits are singles. He probably can’t keep this contact rate up, but could be a good replacement for Quintin Berry.

Lorenzo Cain (28%) is headed back to the doctor to see why his recovery has been so slow. Could we see Wil Myers (24%) (eligible at catcher in Yahoo! leagues) up to play center field for the Kansas City Royals?

Starting Pitcher

We are now just over one third of the way through the season and it is time to look at another friendly table via our friends at Fangraphs. The table below (data is as of June  7) shows all pitchers in the American League who qualify for the ERA title with a positive value for ERA minus SIERA, sorted by ERA minus SIERA. The hope is that by examining some of the pitchers with variances between actual and expected ERAs we can find waiver wire gems or trade targets. There are myriad other statistics that could be used (and should be if you have access), but I’m going to keep it relatively simple. The column E-F shows ERA minus FIP and the column E-S shows ERA minus SIERA.

Name

K/9

BB/9

K/BB

HR/9

WHIP

ERA

FIP

E-F

SIERA

E-S

Max Scherzer

11.19

3.36

3.33

1.82

1.59

5.88

4.43

1.45

3.07

2.81

Luke Hochevar

7.26

3.32

2.19

0.63

1.54

6.63

3.7

2.94

4.09

2.54

Jake Arrieta

7.84

2.96

2.65

1.16

1.33

5.53

3.99

1.54

3.73

1.8

Clay Buchholz

5.60

4.2

1.33

1.82

1.73

6.58

6.04

0.53

4.79

1.79

Gavin Floyd

7.91

2.32

3.41

1.64

1.29

5.32

4.77

0.55

3.58

1.74

Carl Pavano

4.71

1.14

4.13

1.29

1.40

6.00

4.31

1.69

4.29

1.71

Ivan Nova

8.02

2.67

3.00

1.66

1.47

5.09

4.74

0.35

3.59

1.50

Philip Humber

7.89

4.26

1.85

1.42

1.42

5.68

4.91

0.78

4.32

1.36

Phil Hughes

8.32

2.34

3.56

1.90

1.35

4.96

4.84

0.12

3.69

1.27

Derek Holland

7.93

3.22

2.46

1.48

1.33

5.1

4.48

0.63

3.88

1.22

James Shields

8.77

3.00

2.92

1.15

1.37

4.27

3.82

0.45

3.07

1.20

Tommy Hunter

4.81

2.17

2.21

2.02

1.43

5.59

5.75

-0.17

4.43

1.16

Hector Noesi

5.32

3.33

1.60

1.86

1.24

5.99

5.64

0.34

4.85

1.14

Ervin Santana

6.42

4.12

1.56

1.94

1.44

5.33

5.93

-0.61

4.39

0.94

Rick Porcello

5.43

2.29

2.38

1.00

1.49

4.86

4.22

0.64

3.98

0.88

Justin Masterson

6.42

4.48

1.43

0.73

1.51

5.09

4.35

0.74

4.32

0.77

Jon Lester

6.48

2.81

2.30

0.86

1.38

4.64

3.84

0.80

3.92

0.72

Blake Beavan

4.48

1.34

3.33

1.64

1.34

5.22

5.15

0.07

4.59

0.63

Matt Moore

8.90

4.45

2.00

1.44

1.48

4.45

4.75

-0.30

4.04

0.41

CC Sabathia

8.50

2.64

3.22

1.15

1.24

3.68

3.79

-0.12

3.31

0.37

Matt Harrison

5.66

2.31

2.44

0.90

1.34

4.37

3.84

0.53

4.07

0.30

Jeanmar Gomez

4.50

2.95

1.53

0.93

1.29

4.97

4.51

0.45

4.67

0.30

Felix Doubront

9.53

3.61

2.64

1.16

1.35

3.75

3.88

-0.12

3.47

0.28

Bruce Chen

6.17

1.93

3.20

0.77

1.24

4.37

3.5

0.87

4.14

0.23

Jerome Williams

6.03

2.51

2.40

0.75

1.33

4.02

3.74

0.28

3.79

0.23

Josh Beckett

6.43

2.02

3.19

1.14

1.16

4.04

3.91

0.13

3.84

0.20

Felix Hernandez

8.93

2.87

3.12

0.99

1.26

3.42

3.65

-0.24

3.25

0.17

Drew Smyly

8.16

2.52

3.24

1.34

1.25

3.71

4.08

-0.37

3.56

0.15

Dan Haren

7.98

1.88

4.25

0.82

1.24

3.52

3.11

0.41

3.4

0.12

Brian Matusz

7.11

3.55

2.00

1.14

1.45

4.41

4.28

0.13

4.31

0.10

I will take a look at three of the more intriguing names on the list.

Max Scherzer (92%) is one of two enigmas in the rotation for the Detroit Tigers (Rick Porcello (31%) being the other). We will use his player page at Fangraphs to see if we can find anything to explain the variance in SIERA to ERA. The first thing that jumps out is his inflated BABIP of .378, 60 points higher than his career average. Beyond BABIP, his HR/FB% is at 18.1%. His career average is 11.7% so this will likely normalize over time. There isn’t anything else that looks out of line. Those two items to point toward a likely improvement for Scherzer and he is a high risk, high reward trade target. His owner is likely out of contention and may be looking to rebuild. He would be a good target if you can take on the risk. He’s much more attractive in a league with a large bench.

Clay Buchholz (75%) threw a shut out this week so perhaps he’s already started on his road to recovery. Again, off to his Fangraphs player page to see what we can see. Like Scherzer, we see an abnormally high HR/FB% which will normalize over time. His BABIP is a bit higher than career norms, but not too outrageous. We will likely see a drop over time here as well. His K/9 rate is down about 1 over the last couple of years which is worrisome. I believe he will bounce back a bit, and Marc Normandin did note how improved Buchholz has been lately and is optimistic that he has turned the corner. I’m not as optimistic, but I do believe he’ll be worth a target in most leagues.

Gavin Floyd (56%) is a boring pitcher. He’s 62-61 over his career. His ERA generally hovers around four. His career K/9 rate is exactly seven. He is not likely a pitcher you target in a draft. Again, we see another player with an elevated home run rate. Floyd does pitch in a hitter’s park so his rebound will likely not be as big as the secondary numbers suggest. Tread lightly if dealing for him.

It is also intriguing to see the wide variation in FIP and SIERA for some pitchers (Max Scherzer, Clay Buchholz and Ervin Santana (80%) for example). That is why it is important to use multiple filters and understand what each statistic measures and what it does not.

The Boston Red Sox demoted Daniel Bard (28%) to AAA to work through his “issues” as a starter. Bard was certainly not pleased. The Sox brass said that it will be a quick trip and he’d be back soon. His role when he returns is undecided. I imagine part of that decision process will hinge on Daisuke Matsuzaka’s (20%) performance in the rotation. I side with many of the scouting people who say that Bard cannot succeed as a starter for a variety of reasons. Do not be surprised if Bard is moved back into the bullpen either in a setup role or as a closer. I don’t see closer as an issue at this point as Alfredo Aceves (76%) has been rock solid since his early season struggles.

I see the roles playing out this way – Dice-K will stay in the rotation, Aceves will stay as the closer and Bard will slide into the setup role he was comfortable with last year. The belief is based more on Bard’s comfort level than my belief in Dice-K. I can’t see the Red Sox moving Dice-K to the bullpen. I understand the argument that you’d rather have Bard pitching six effective innings every five days than one or two innings every other day. However, Bard hasn’t been effective and doesn’t have any history in the minors of being effective as a starter.

Derek Holland’s (87%) stomach issues have led to him being placed on the DL with a shoulder issue. Now, I’m not a doctor nor have I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express recently, but I don’t think the stomach and shoulder are connected. Holland’s MRI results were available Friday and came back clean with no structural damage. It looks like he’ll try to recover from the stomach issues and build back his shoulder strength so I see him out about one month.

In the interim, the Texas Rangers have placed Alexi Ogando (45%) into the rotation with a start on Sunday. The long term solution is likely Roy Oswalt (68%) who struggled in his first start at AAA. However, there was also discussion of pulling Scott Feldman (4%) (who I foolishly recommended last week) from the rotation so Ogando could be in the rotation longer than expected. I’d bid rather aggressively on Ogando because I could see him staying in the rotation for the remainder of the season. I’m still not sold on Oswalt as being more than league average when he makes it to Arlington.

Relief Pitcher

Tom Wilhelmsen (28%) picked up the save (his third) in the Seattle Mariners combined no-hitter this week. His current understudy (and deposed closer) Brandon League (48%) picked up the hold in front of him. I still believe League gets a shot to reclaim the closer role. However, League is a free agent at the end of the year so the Mariners could stick with Wilhelmsen (less than $500,000 salary this year) to attempt to develop a cheaper replacement for League ($5,000,000 this year) next year. League still has value for fantasy players looking for holds as he has three over the last seven days.

Brian Fuentes (37%) blew a save in Fuentes-esque fashion Friday night. He is not made to be a closer and it’s time to look and see who else might move into that role. The Oakland Athletics have two options – Grant Balfour (30%), who held the spot at the beginning of the season and Ryan Cook (30%) a 24-year old who has shone all season long in the bullpen.

Grant Balfour was removed from the closer role in mid-May and since then in 13 1/3 innings he’s pitched to a 2.03 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with 12 Ks, but eight walks. Those eight walks give me pause in recommending him as a speculative closer in Oakland.

Ryan Cook is the other option available in the bullpen. He was converted to a reliever in 2011 in the minors and picked up 19 saves across two levels. So, he has some experience in the role. This article sums up a lot of the argument for Cook as closer. Moreover, the A’s would be well served to trying to develop a young closer instead of paying for one on the open market. Cook does have a high walk total (15 in 25 innings) so if hitters figure out how to make better contact, he could be in a lot of trouble. I think Cook is the speculative play in Oakland and should be acquired in all leagues this week. I do not see Fuentes keeping the role. (Late Saturday Bob Melvin said he now has three closers – Cook, Balfour and Fuentes – and that situation will dictate who is used).

Finally, a great story as the Oakland Athletics promoted Sean Doolittle (1%) from AAA into their bullpen.  Doolittle was a 1st round pick (supplemental) of the A’s in 2007 out of Virginia where he both hit and pitched. He struggled with knee injuries in 2009 and 2010. He started throwing bullpen session in 2011 as a means of distraction. The A’s saw something and converted him to pitcher. In 25 IP at three levels this year he struck out 48 batters. In his major league debut, he struck out three of the four Texas Rangers batters he faced. He probably won’t be put into high leverage situations in the near future, but could be a great source of strikeouts in leagues with innings limits. And, Brian Fuentes isn’t exactly Mariano Rivera.

National League Waiver Wire

Catcher

Steve Clevenger (3%) has returned for the Cubs and I expect him to be the starting catcher for the remainder of the season (even when Geovanny Soto returns). He’s a definite add in two-catcher leagues.

Martin Maldonado (0%) has picked up the majority of at bats for the Milwaukee Brewers after Jonathan Lucroy’s (66%) injury. It looks like George Kottaras (6%) cannot shake his hamstring injury. Maldonado offers little of interest for fantasy players.

Corner infielder

Pablo Sandoval (98%) has returned from the DL earlier than expected. I’ve seen lots of complaints about Sandoval’s lack of fitness. I’m not sure when we’ve ever seen him in great shape and I believe the Giants activated him early to get him back with the major league team so they can push him away from the clubhouse spread more frequently. He’s a fantasy star and should be active in all leagues for next week.

Gaby Sanchez (30%) is returning from AAA to the Miami Marlins. He will immediately move into the starting lineup. He had a .976 OPS during his time at AAA. Sanchez is who he is.  He won’t hit as much as you’d like for a first baseman, but he’s a good second tier option at the position in most leagues. He’s probably a .270 hitter with 15-20 home run power. That’s nice, but not usually what you are looking for out of your first baseman.

Ty Wigginton (33%) continues to hit for the Philadelphia Phillies. He likely has multi-position eligibility in your league. Regular playing time is guaranteed as long as he can hit and as long as Ryan Howard stays on the DL. There isn’t a clear return date for Howard so you may want to get “Wiggy” with it in most leagues.

Chipper Jones (46%) looks like he is ready to return from the DL either Sunday or Monday. He’s a great pickup for daily leagues as he can’t stay healthy for long periods of time.

Middle infielder

Jed Lowrie (92%) continues to mash for the Houston Astros with three HRs and six RBIs over the last seven games. Speed is the only tool he lacks, but will be a good source of power as long as e stays healthy which he’s never been able to do.

Ryan Theriot (10%) has been the second best player in one of my leagues over the last week. I don’t care how small a sample that is, he is hot. Grab him now and know that he will drop off a bit. However, he should be a source of runs and stolen bases while not harming your batting average.  The San Francisco Giants are still waiting for Freddy Sanchez (4%) to return and I don’t know when (if ever) he will be back. Theriot could be the second baseman for the rest of the season. Joaquin Arias (3%) and Emmanuel Burriss (1%) are no threat to his playing time.

The Philadelphia Phillies lost Freddy Galvis (14%) to what may be a season-ending back injury. Galvis had been playing surprisingly well for the disappointing Phillies. Initially, Galvis will be replaced by Mike Fontenot (1%). Fontenot has always shown a bit of power for a middle infielder and will likely hit around .260 with no speed. He’s a fine pick up in NL-only leagues and could keep the position if Chase Utley (90%) does not make a successful return. The will be less likely to look outside of the organization for help at second should they stay in the basement of the NL East.

Outfield

Allen Craig (83%) is back and raking for the St. Louis Cardinals. If he is on the waiver wire in your league, he shouldn’t be. He should be owned in all leagues (until he gets hurt again). He will bat in the middle of the order for the Cardinals and is a great source of power.

Is Jason Heyward (98%) breaking out of his slump for the Atlanta Braves? I do not believe so. He is too inconsistent to start in weekly leagues. He still has not solved lefthanders as his line for this year is .197/.260/.324. His development seems to have stalled. If I owned him, I’d try to play up his big week and see what you can get for him in a trade.

Alfonso Soriano (68%) seems to be audition for a team other than the Chicago Cubs. He has four home runs over his last seven games. He can still put the ball over the fence though he’s going to be a batting average risk for the remainder of the season.

Starting Pitcher

Similar to the American League, we have a table of National League pitchers to wade through and find that diamond in the rough.

Name

K/9

BB/9

K/BB

HR/9

WHIP

ERA

FIP

E-F

SIERA

E-S

Tim Lincecum

9.77

4.75

2.06

0.81

1.52

5.83

3.66

2.17

3.83

2

Adam Wainwright

8.28

2.67

3.1

1.02

1.36

4.97

3.64

1.33

3.21

1.76

Juan Nicasio

8.38

3.41

2.45

1.09

1.62

5.28

3.93

1.35

3.81

1.47

Dillon Gee

8.32

2.43

3.42

1.02

1.32

4.48

3.6

0.88

3.14

1.34

Bud Norris

9.82

3.23

3.04

1.16

1.41

4.65

3.73

0.92

3.33

1.32

Josh Johnson

7.48

2.79

2.68

0.38

1.49

4.56

2.89

1.68

3.53

1.03

Jaime Garcia

6.92

2.58

2.68

0.27

1.46

4.48

2.74

1.74

3.63

0.85

J.A. Happ

9.05

3.34

2.71

1.39

1.45

4.31

4.14

0.17

3.52

0.79

Yovani Gallardo

9.13

4.11

2.22

1.03

1.43

4.5

3.86

0.64

3.78

0.72

Zack Greinke

10.13

2.25

4.5

0.25

1.25

3.13

1.89

1.24

2.51

0.62

Jonathon Niese

8.95

3.82

2.35

1.32

1.3

4.11

4.27

-0.16

3.51

0.6

Matt Garza

8.34

3.03

2.75

1.21

1.15

4.1

4.09

0

3.5

0.6

Jake Westbrook

6.27

2.86

2.19

0.82

1.44

4.23

3.86

0.37

3.64

0.59

A.J. Burnett

8.18

2.95

2.78

0.65

1.29

3.76

3.19

0.57

3.17

0.59

Roy Halladay

6.97

1.74

4

0.75

1.15

3.98

3.22

0.76

3.45

0.53

Anthony Bass

8.03

3.42

2.35

0.79

1.32

4.21

3.53

0.69

3.7

0.51

Ian Kennedy

8.44

2.26

3.74

1.07

1.3

3.93

3.61

0.31

3.46

0.47

Cliff Lee

9.19

1.53

6

0.97

1.01

2.92

2.91

0.02

2.46

0.46

Anibal Sanchez

8.84

2.21

4

0.61

1.09

3.19

2.77

0.42

3.01

0.18

Bronson Arroyo

6.39

1.3

4.9

1.17

1.33

3.91

3.78

0.13

3.84

0.07

Chad Billingsley

8.26

3.41

2.42

0.92

1.4

3.8

3.79

0.01

3.73

0.07

Randall Delgado

7.19

4.4

1.63

0.73

1.37

4.26

4.06

0.2

4.23

0.03

Ricky Nolasco

5.14

2.37

2.17

0.92

1.32

4.35

4.14

0.21

4.32

0.03

As with the American League, I will take a look at three of the more intriguing names in the NL.

Tim Lincecum (97%) – he was seen as a top 10 pitcher in the NL coming into this year. He has pitched like anything but that caliber of pitcher. His LOB% (or strand rate) is much lower than usual for him so this points to a bounce back if he can get to league average.  However, in his batted ball profile, we see that his ground ball rate has dropped and it seems they have been converted into line drives which implies he is being hit harder than usual. Moreover, his fastball speed is down two miles per hour from last year. I do not know if it is an injury, fatigue or a mechanical issue, but whatever the problem is, I do not see Lincecum as a good trade target for this season.

Adam Wainwright (96%) – Wainwright came into the season for the St. Louis Cardinals as the de facto ace even though he missed all of last year after Tommy John surgery. Returnees from that surgery are usually late to get their control back which will show up as a higher WHIP in the fantasy realm. Wainwright has a ton of red flags from a lower LOB% than usual, to a higher HR/FB rate, but an increased GB% with a lower average fastball speed. It looks like Wainwright will be up and down for the rest of the year, but the number of “up” starts will outnumber the “down”. Target him especially in dynasty leagues, if his owner is fed up with his inconsistency. He will recover in the second half.

Zack Greinke (98%) – the numbers say that Greinke’s super season could get even better! A deeper look shows a mixed bag. Greinke’s BABIP is absurdly high at .357, but his HR/FB is absurdly low at just 4.8%. One explanation could be the reintroduction of the cutter to his repertoire. He looks to have nearly abandoned his changeup and added a cutter which is nearly thrown at the same speed as his fastball. Generally, cutters lead to more groundballs (which we see in his numbers) and wouldn’t directly affect the HR/FB %.  Looking at historical data shows that Greinke’s ERA generally tracks very closely to his FIP with the exception of his two most recent seasons. With all of this said, I can see Greinke improving even more and finishing as a top 5 pitcher in the entire major leagues.

The St. Louis Cardinals lost Jaime Garcia (78%) to the DL with what was called at different times an elbow, shoulder and hip injury. It looks like there is “moderate” damage to his shoulder. In redraft leagues, I would drop him altogether. I don’t think he’ll have any value the rest of this season as shoulder injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from.

Joe Kelly (2%) was announced as the rotation replacement over Brandon Dickson (0%) and top prospect Shelby Miller (23%) (who has struggled all year at AAA). I will be honest. I had never heard of Joe Kelly until this week. A quick look at his minor league numbers shows a significant drop in K/9 rate as he hit AAA this year (though it was frighteningly consistent prior to this year). His 2.86 ERA in AAA doesn’t look like it is supported by enough stuff to be successful in the majors.

Relief Pitcher

So, the San Diego Padres have decided to convert Andrew Cashner (10%) back to the starting rotation. Cashner entered the season as the heir apparent to Huston Street. Cashner will start this weekend and then head to the minors to get stretched out for a return to the rotation. Any San Diego Padres’ starter is intriguing due to their home field. Cashner had some success in the minors as a starter, but it was assumed his stuff translated better to the bullpen at the major league level. I’m a bit dubious of his ability to make it work as a starter, but Petco gives me some pause. He’s certainly valuable in NL-only leagues, but I’d wait in deeper leagues to see how he does at the AAA level first.

Santiago Casilla (82%) looks to be fully healthy for the San Francisco Giants and is reinstalled as the closer as his replacement Sergio Romo (20%) now battles a minor knee injury.

I will reiterate my recommendation from last week for the Atlanta Braves Eric O’Flaherty (2%) in holds leagues. He finished tied for sixth last year in holds and seems to be taking advantage of his high leverage opportunities.

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.

Fantasy Baseball: Scouting Report — Cody Buckel, Kyle Simon and Ryan Berry

Scouting Report – Frederick Keys v. Myrtle Beach Pelicans May 3 2012, 11:00 am

I attended the May 3 Frederick Keys (Baltimore Orioles affiliate) game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas Rangers affiliate) in Frederick, MD.  The game featured a match-up between Cody Buckel for the Pelicans and Kyle Simon for the Keys.

Prior to the 11am game, I asked Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus (via Twitter) who to look out for on the Myrtle Beach team. I knew that Frederick was devoid of high level talent, so I wanted to focus on a player or two on the Pelicans to see what I could see with my untrained eye. The Professor is always accommodating on Twitter (even to plebeians such as myself) and responded with a list of players (I’ve added first names for clarity. “Cody Buckel, Roman Mendez, Odubel Herrera, Christian Villanueva, Tomas Telis, Jake Skole. Lots of talent.” Armed with this list I was off to Frederick to bake in the late-morning sun.

The Keys stadium sits hard between New Design Road and Mt. Olivet Cemetery (Francis Scott Key is buried there). The placement is a fascinating juxtaposition as minor league stadia see so many careers either head off to bigger challenges or die never to be heard from again. Enough about the setting, let’s look at a couple of players

Cody Buckel
Cody Buckel is a 19 year old, 6’ 1” 170 lb right-handed pitcher in the Texas Rangers organization. He was drafted by the Rangers in the second round (72nd overall) of the 2010 Rule 4 (amateur) draft out of Royal High School in Simi Valley, CA.  He signed for $590,000. His first two seasons in professional baseball were played at the Rookie and Low-A levels and he did not show any issues with those assignments.

Year Age Lg Lev W L ERA G IP H ER BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2010 18 ARIZ Rk 0 0 0.00 4 5.0 2 0 1 9 0.600 3.6 0.0 1.8 16.2 9.00
2011 19 SALL A 8 3 2.61 23 96.2 83 28 27 120 1.138 7.7 0.7 2.5 11.2 4.44
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/7/2012.

Buckel was assigned to High-A Myrtle Beach and came into the 2012 season as the 11th rated prospect in a deep Texas Rangers farm system by Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein. Baseball America ranked him as the Rangers No. 6 prospect after the 2011 season.

During the game, Buckel threw anywhere from 71 to 91 miles per hour (on the scoreboard radar) with his fastball seeming to sit in the high 80s, touching 90-91 at times when he needed it. He breezed through the Keys lineup for seven innings. He seemed to tolerate base runners only when he bored of breezing through the lineup. He allowed these runners so that he could show off other skills such as a pickoff move (to nab Tyler Kolodny in the second inning). Or to display his ability to get ground balls to double up that runner he granted access to first base (as he did twice in his seven innings).

The only potential wart arose during back-to-back at bats with Aaron Baker (a 6’ 2” 220 lb first baseman). In the fourth, Buckel went 71, 87 and 91 mph to set Baker down on three pitches. Baker came back up in the sixth and it looked like Buckel was going to try the exact same sequence. Baker got down 0-2 and then pulled an 86 mph pitch into right field for a single. Baker looked like he made an adjustment and Buckel thought (was hoping?) that Baker would not.

Buckel looks like a boy, but carried himself as a man on this day. The Keys had no answers for the questions he posed and Buckel seemed to know they would not. I imagine the Rangers will leave him at this level until the All-Star break and then reevaluate his assignment. I could see him end the year at AA. If he continues to progress, he could see Arlington in September 2014.

Quick hits

As I noted, the Frederick roster at the time had very little in the way of “prospecty” goodness (Dylan Bundy is there now so that statement is no longer factual). However, there were a few other interesting players on the day.

Kyle Simon:  Simon started for the Keys and looks all the part of a power right-hander standing 6’ 5” and weighing 225 pounds.  He was drafted in the fourth round in 2011 out of the University of Arizona and signed for $235,000. He threw 16 2/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2011 at Low-A and A and put up solid numbers. He was the 19th rated prospect in the Orioles organization by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season.

His 2012 has not been quite as successful as his short stint in the bullpen at the end of 2011 was. He was the antithesis on this day of Buckel with runners on. In the game, Simon worked quickly and relatively efficiently until a runner reached base. Then, his entire process changed, he labored and looked visibly flustered paying too much attention to runners on base. Moreover, he could not get the ground ball he needed when he needed it. He’s going to need to perform with runners on base in order to develop into a useful pitcher.

Ryan Berry: When I first saw Berry walking around the Frederick bullpen, I thought he was a coach. He had an “old” look to him. He looked like a guy stuck in the style of another generation, which is to say he looked like Val Kilmer in Wonderland. Then, he began to warm up in the bullpen and I realized that he was actually on the active roster.  For the facial hair alone, he is a prospect.

Berry was signed out of Rice University in 2009 for a higher than “slot” amount of $417,600 for this ninth round pick of the Baltimore Orioles. The 23-year old was rated as the No. 15 prospect in the Orioles system prior to the 2012 season by Baseball America. Berry got in for the final inning and showed of a herky-jerky delivery with a bit of deception. However, that deception seems to be his only tool and I’m not sure he’s much more than a minor league reliever.

Vincent DiFazio: The 26-year old catcher is clearly not a prospect, but the Keys PA announcer certainly took notice of him by playing the opening music from the Sopranos as he walked to the plate for an at bat. He struck out on three pitches during one at bat (they all looked like breaking balls) and attacked the visitor’s dugout with aplomb afterward. He did hit cleanup for the Pelicans for this early morning tilt, but I imagine his development has stalled.

Jake Skole: The 6’ 1” 190 lb Skole was the first round pick (15th overall) in 2010 by the Texas Rangers out of a Georgia high school.  He signed for signed for $1,557,000 He was rated as the No. 24 prospect in the Rangers organization by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season. Skole did not show much at the plate and seemed fooled quite often especially on what looked like breaking balls. He did make an effort to make contact at times seeming to “sell-out” to put bat to ball. I’d need to see him again to see if this was just a poor day at the dish.

I am not a scout and my baseball career fizzled out over three days of tryouts in my freshman year of high school. I was the classic all-run no-hit player. I do not have the eyes to see everything that a scout can see or that a player who has played at a high level can see. With that in mind, take the above as an attempt by a rank amateur to evaluate a prospect or two. Let me know your thoughts and thanks for reading.

- Chris

Fantasy Baseball: Scouting the Waiver Wire — Week 10

Big injuries this week to the Colorado Rockies Troy Tulowitzki and the Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Kemp have created an opening for those fantasy players who may have been trailing in the standings. And the attack of the hamate bone has felled the Baltimore Orioles Nick Markakis. On the pitching side the Philadelphia Phillies lost Roy Halladay for six to eight weeks at least and the Anaheim Angels put Jered Weaver on the DL with a back injury.

Enjoy the MLB draft this week and look for Duke’s Marcus Stroman to be the first player in this year’s draft to make it to the majors (possibly this year). A lot of stars are on the sidelines, it’s time to make your move. Let’s get to it. A reminder, I am using Sportsline ownership percentages below.

American League Waiver Wire

Catcher

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (69% ownership) continues to hit for power for the Boston Red Sox. He is now a low end option in one catcher leagues (especially head to head points where total bases are important).

The Detroit Tigers Alex Avila (94%) is still bugged with some nagging injuries. As a result Gerald Laird (0%) is seeing increased playing time. Laird continues to be someone to monitor and in deeper leagues potentially add.

The Kansas City Royals reported that Salvador Perez (15%) will start a rehab assignment in about one week so look for him near mid-July in a major league ballpark near you.

Corner infielder

We have seen this before from Seattle Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak (61%). Smoak has 6 HRs and 17 RBIs over the last 14 days. He had a hot streak earlier this year, but wasn’t able to sustain it. Even with this power outburst, his OPS is just .703 (he has 10 HRs, but only three doubles and zero triples). I’m not sure what to make of him, but it looks like he may be falling into the low average/low on-base power hitting corner man. The problem is, he looks like he may top out at 20-25 HRs per year at his peak which is not really enough to offset his low batting average.

Don’t look now, but the Kansas City Royals uber-prospect Eric Hosmer (96%). He is hitting .311/.380/.467 in his last 14 days with a 5/7 BB/K rate. He’s too good to be kept down for the entire year. In redraft leagues, this may be your last time to be able to buy low.

Albert Pujols (100%) will play third base for the Anaheim Angels during interleague play this week as Kendrys Morales (80%) moves to first base. Just an update for those fantasy managers looking for extra positional flexibility in your leagues.

If you are hunting for a deep sleeper, the Texas Rangers third base prospect Mike Olt (5%) has been raking at AA Frisco. He has three straight two-homer games and is sitting at 17 HRs for the year in just 235 PAs. He could be up in September to add a power bat off the bench or if Mitch Moreland (51%) regresses at first base.

Middle infielder

Perhaps I was wrong about the Chicago White Sox Gordon Beckham (63%). He’s been a top ten hitter in most formats for the last couple of weeks. At this point, if he is available, I’d grab him and see what you can get out of him. He’s shown some solid power over the past couple of weeks.

Trevor Plouffe (2%) continues to hit HRs for the Minnesota Twins and do absolutely nothing else. He’s not a bad AL-only play if you need power from a position where it usually does not arise.

Jason Kipnis (99%) has been hotter than the surface of Mercury. He cannot keep this up, but even 85% of this run is valuable in all formats. If he’s still available to you, grab him now.

Outfield

The Toronto Blue Jays’ left field has become a quagmire of mediocrity. Eric Thames (14%) was demoted to AAA this week and they’ve installed Rajaj Davis (17%). If Davis can keep the job for any meaningful period, he will be a stolen base maven with little else to offer. If he should fail, the talk is that the Jays may go with prospect Anthony Gose (7%). Gose has an .811 OPS at the launching pad of Las Vegas. His main value to fantasy players is speed (70 SBs last year at AA; 24 so far this year at AAA). There are thoughts that his power will develop later, but it won’t be this year. Lastly, Travis Snider (6%) (dealing with a wrist injury currently) is still in the mix for left field. His struggles at the major league level are not completely explained and he’s mashing again at AAA. I believe that Snider would get the first shot at LF should Davis fail as the Jays will want Gose to continue to develop in the minors.

Finally, in the oldie but used to be goodie bin we find Hideki Matsui (3%) for the Tampa Bay Rays and Vladimir Guerrero (6%) of the Toronto Blue Jays. I cannot see Matsui lasting full time in the OF (as Tampa is playing him now). I think Matsui is at the end of the road and should be left off of your roster. Guerrero is a bit more intriguing because he could potentially DH full time (with Edwin Encarnacion (99%) moving to first). Guerrero still has 20 HR power in his bat. Monitor him and be ready to pounce this week as he could be up soon.

Starting Pitcher

It’s June and Felix Doubront (78%) is still dealing for the Boston Red Sox. The 24 year old Venezuelan has a 9.5 K/9 rate this year, a rate he hasn’t seen since his 20-year old season in low-A and A ball. There isn’t anything about his “deeper” stats which makes one think that this is a fluke. I would see if he can be acquired via the waiver wire (he should be owned in most league formats) or deal for him. He looks to be a true sleeper that very people had prior to the season.

The Minnesota Twins put Francisco Liriano (41%) back into the rotation this past week and he rewarded them with a fantastic start against the Oakland Athletics. Do not be fooled (as I was at the beginning of this season). The A’s barely put out a AAA lineup and Liriano has teased us too many times. Do not bid, do not trade for and do not acquire him in any way.

A sneaky one-week play is the Texas Rangers Scott Feldman (9%). He may even be eligible as a reliever in your league format. Feldman faces the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants on the road this week. The A’s are hitting .209 as a team and both the A’s and Giants are below .500 versus right handed starters. Take a chance on him this week with that Rangers offense behind him.

The Anaheim Angels will attempt to replace Jered Weaver (98%) with Garrett Richards (8%). Richards’ control has vanished this year at AAA so I’d steer clear of him initially. He’s worth watching (and spot starting versus the Little Sisters of the Poor in the AL West) due to the Angels offense.

The Minnesota Twins are sending Carl Pavano (9%) to the DL. You should send him to the waiver wire with his shoulder injury.

Relief Pitcher

In shallower leagues, it is probably time to cut bait on the Anaheim Angels Jordan Walden (41%) (41%). He’s likely no more than third in line for saves behind Scott Downs (43%) and Ernesto Frieri (59%). Walden hasn’t solved all of his issues and he’s got a couple of above average relievers to overcome.

The Seattle Mariners recalled Stephen Pryor (9%) from AAA this week and with an unsettled bullpen, he could stumble into some save opportunities. Pryor has an electric arm, but is not always sure where the ball is going. He was the closer at AA this year and picked up two more saves at AAA prior (see what I did there?) to his recall. I still believe that Brandon League will slide back into the closer’s role within the next couple of weeks, but Pryor is a decent gamble.

Also in the Seattle Mariners bullpen, Hisashi Iwakuma (4%) has picked up two saves (though one was in a game that Seattle won 21-8) this week. Iwakuma was a starter in Japan prior to come to the States and has never secured a save in his career. I do not see him as a threat in the Mariners’ bullpen.

National League Waiver Wire

Catcher

Even though Yasmani Grandal (14%) was demoted on Sunday, I’m going to leave this piece in regarding the player as I believe we will see him back sooner rather than later. The San Diego Padres called up prospect Grandal from AAA Friday. Grandal was seen by many as the top prospect (even including Yonder Alonso (54%)) in the Mat Latos (93%) 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? Catchers generally 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%) sixth 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.

Wilin Rosario (36%) looks to be taking the Colorado Rockies starting job and running with it. He may not let Ramon Hernandez back in. Now is the time to target him in shallower leagues.

Oh, and Jonathan Lucroy (69%) of the Milwaukee Brewers, le sigh! His replacement George Kottaras (7%) could also be a valuable pickup. He’s always shown good power in the minors and in his short spurts of playing time in the majors. He won’t help anywhere else, but is a must add in two-catcher and NL-only leagues.

Corner infielder

I see that Paul Goldschmidt (60%) is coming back around for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Whenever I see a hot streak, I like to hunt for the reason. For Goldschmidt, it looks like more batting practice against lefthanders has helped. He has three HRs in his last 23 ABs while hitting .391 with a .440 OBP. I’ve always liked Goldschmidt and this is a great opportunity to grab him (and perhaps slide him into the corner for a player like Ryan Zimmerman (99%) who doesn’t seem 100% healthy) or make a deal for him to upgrade in the power department. His minor league record points to a player who can help in every category but stolen bases.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are pining for more patience with Pedro Alvarez (alliteration is addictive and 37% ownership). He’s going to sit down for a couple of days, but this writer doesn’t think it will solve anything. Casey McGehee (4%) looks like he will get the extra ABs while Pedro sits. McGehee is nothing exciting, but could pick up some extra ABs over the next couple of weeks.

Another Pirates corner man in the person of Garrett Jones (8%) looks to be at the start of one of his patented hot streaks. Jones is usually hot or cold and never in between. Jones picked up his third home run in seven days on Sunday. When he’s on (as I believe he is now), he’s a source of power with some sneaky speed. Grab him in deeper leagues, but be ready to cut him quickly when he turns frozen.

The Houston Astros placed ageless Carlos Lee (88%) on the DL on Saturday and recalled Brett Wallace (3%) from AAA. Wallace has had a couple of opportunities in the majors, but has not yet succeeded. He’s posted an .802 OPS in 202 PAs at AAA this year and .703 OPS in 379 PAs in 2011 at the major league level. He has not shown the ability to make consistent contact and I do not think he has figured it out now. Lee’s injury looks to be a short term issue. I would leave Wallace on the waiver wire except in the deepest of leagues.

Bruce Bochy said he’s going to give Brandon Belt (33%) more consistent playing time. No truth to the rumor that Bochy is French for “bridge-seller.”

Middle infielder

Troy Tulowitki’s (100%) replacement looks to be Chris Nelson (1%). He’s a solid if unspectacular player. Marco Scutaro (56%) will also get additional playing time and could be a good pick up in shallower leagues. Scutaro hits for a league-average average and score runs at the top of that lineup.

Chase Utley (89%) will start his rehab assignment for the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday. The maximum time for a rehab assignment is 30 days though teams and can stop and reset the 30 days at any time. I hold out little hope for Utley this season (or in the future). He has a degenerative condition for which there is no solution. I have more faith that Brian Roberts will contribute meaningful at bats than will Utley. Monitor Utley’s rehab, but I would not waste a DL spot on him at this time.

Jed Lowrie (89%) is coming back around for the Houston Astros. Lowrie’s issue has always been staying healthy. He’s done a credible job of that this year and is a good pick up in shallower leagues. He’ll give you more power than your standard middle infielder and should be able to maintain a batting average around .270.

Ruben Tejada (20%) is now set to start his rehab assignment this Monday and should return by Friday June 8th. He had a small setback with some soreness, but it looks like all systems are go for this high OBP middle infielder.

Andrelton Simmons (7%) was also recalled this week. He is a defensive superstar who has a little contact in his bat. He will likely struggle with the bat (but can’t be any worse that Tyler Pastornicky (11%)). Simmons will only contribute in batting average and will bring little else to the fantasy table.

Outfield

I sat Colorado Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler in two weekly leagues this week. He had a nagging injury and I thought I had better (read: healthier) options. He’s been a top five hitter for the week. He’s a great add in all but the shallowest of leagues as he is still only 26 and has all of the tools to be a serious fantasy contributor (84%). A word of caution however, his OPS is 200 points higher at home than on the road. 200. All of his games this week were in Coors.  He’s really only a play at home as he’s a terrible road hitter.

 The New York Mets should also welcome back Jason Bay (25%) for the series with the Yankees that starts on Friday. Bay is wrapping up his rehab assignment this week. With Mike Baxter (1%) out for six weeks, I can see Bay sliding into left field with Kirk Nieuwenhuis (20%) moving to center and Andres Torres (9%) moving to the bench. Bay showed a little power prior to his injury, but his 30 HR seasons are a thing of the past. He’s certainly an option in deeper leagues, but most mixed leagues can ignore him.

Fredi Gonzalez seems to love playing Jose Constanza (1%) for the Atlanta Braves. In his initial callup last year, Constanza set the fantasy world on fire. It looks like Gonzalez is at it again and will play Constanza regularly in the outfield while Chipper Jones (46%) is out with Martin Prado (99%) sliding from the outfield to third base. He is not a prospect as he is 28 years old and has a career .721 OPS in the minor leagues. He’s got good plate discipline and could help you in batting average and on base percentage, but should offer little else while he’s playing. The odd man out in this musical chair lineup looks to be Juan Francisco. Stay tuned because Constanza will likely turn into a pumpkin at some point soon.

I was (still am?) an apologist for Houston Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez. Injuries have sapped many of the tools scouts dreamed on when Martinez was a 17-year old in High-A and was some three years younger than the next oldest player on the team. Still, it looks like the Astros are going to give him a bit of a run replacing Brian Bogusevic (4%). He’s collected an .817 OPS over parts of four seasons at AAA which doesn’t portend stardom. However, he’s off to a hot start this year (albeit in the PCL) with an OPS of .906 in 206 PAs.   In his first two games in the majors this season, I think we’ve seen what Martinez will bring – 1-9 with 2 RBIs and 6 Ks. I hold out hope that he can become an average major leaguer, but I’d only add him in NL-only leagues.

Carlos Quentin (83%) has returned for the Padres and started off by launching three home runs in his first week back. He will be harmed a bit by Petco, but his power is for real and could hit 15 more home runs the rest of the year.

Tony Gwynn, Jr. (4%) has six stolen bases over the last seven days for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Matt Kemp will be out more than the minimum 15 days with his latest hamstring injury and Don Mattingly has shown the propensity to go with the hot hand regardless of pedigree. I might nab Gwynn to replace a player like Gregor Blanco (20%) who has slowed a bit over the last week.

Tony Campana (19%) has nine ABs over the last seven days. He has five stolen bases. I present this without comment.

Late Sunday night, the San Diego Padres Will Venable left with an oblique strain. His replacement would be Chris Denorfia (1%). Denorfia could be a minor contributor in all categories.

Starting Pitcher

The Philadelphia Phillies have lost Roy Halladay (97%) for six to eight weeks with a shoulder injury. The rotation replacement for Halladay is Kyle Kendrick (17%). Kendrick is a nice little pitcher, but he is no Roy Halladay (that’s Charlie Morton). Kendrick has never been a big strikeout guy and has never been able to sustain success for long. He’s a capable fill-in for deeper leagues, but should be ignored in shallower setups.

Also, the Phillies will welcome back Vance Worley (88%) from the DL for a two-start week. Worley was one of my darlings in the pre-draft picks and pans. He’s spent time on the DL with bone chips in his elbow so I would temper your expectations for the remainder of the season. It is true that Cole Hamels pitched through a similar ailment last year for the Phils, but Worley isn’t Hamels and the 2012 Phillies are not the 2011 Phillies. Worley will likely pitch similarly to last year, but wins will be tougher to come by and I think there is a chance he gets shut down early if the Phillies are out of the playoff race.

Sticking in the NL East, Dillon Gee (34%) is an interesting target. His surface stats (4.69 ERA, 1.342 WHIP) haven’t been great. However, looking deeper (via Fangraphs), his FIP is nearly a run better. Gee’s K/9 rate is 8.1 for the season (and is up to nine over the last couple of weeks). He’s a good target in a trade or check to see if he’s out there on the waiver wire in deeper leagues.

Kris Medlen (7%) was sent to AAA with the intention of extending him as a starter as Mike Minor has struggled mightily this year. Medlen’s first start at AAA was not good – 2 1/3 innings, five hits, two walks, four earned runs with two walks and four strikeouts. Medlen has been right around league average as a starter in the majors (4.31 ERA, 1.270 WHIP, 7.1 K/9 over 102 1/3 innings). I expect it will take about three weeks for Medlen to be recalled, but he’s a worthy stash in deeper leagues (especially where there is an advantage to having reliever eligibility for a starter).

It also looks like a couple of erstwhile prospects in Cincinnati Reds Homer Bailey (74%) and Pittsburgh Pirates James McDonald (91%) may be putting their tools together and actualizing as better than average starters. I’d target both of them as trade targets for those in your leagues who want to “sell high” in a trade.

The San Diego Padres are said to want to enlist Jason Marquis (1%) (recently released by the Minnesota Twins) as their fifth starter when one is needed Saturday. Petco washes away many sins, but I don’t think Marquis useful in any league except those where only San Diego Padres may be used.

Injuries in Milwaukee have kept Randy Wolf (13%) in the rotation when he hasn’t deserved it. Unfortunately, it looks like Wolf stays at least until Marco Estrada (4%) comes back from the DL.

Relief Pitcher

Santiago Casilla (82%), the San Francisco Giants closer for the rest of the season, tweaked his kne on Friday and missed out on save opportunities over the weekend. Should Casilla, miss additional time, it looks like Sergio Romo (18%) would get the majority of save opportunities with Javier Lopez (2%) potentially getting matchup saves versus lefty heavy lineups.

Carlos Marmol (31%) has returned to the Chicago Cubs bullpen and James Russell (16%) picked up a save this week as Rafael Dolis (5%) was relieved of his duties. I assume Russell will keep the job until he stumbles (which could be tomorrow). Shawn Camp (4%) is probably the best reliever in the Cubs bullpen right now and could be given a shot to close (he’s also a righty as opposed to Russell who throws from the left side). I also assume that Marmol will get a chance as well (and could be next in line when Russell stumbles). If I’m handicapping it, I grab Russell and have Camp on speed dial. If Marmol begins to show any semblance of control, grab him immediately. It may take a while for him to get back however.

It looks like Huston Street (63%) will come off of the DL on Tuesday. It’s time to drop Dale Thayer (28%) and snag Street if he was dropped for some reason. Street started his season quickly and should continue. Street is still a candidate to be traded at some point, but it’s not clear that Thayer would be the closer again.

Finally, Chad Durbin (0%) has been getting some higher leverage innings as Jonny Venters (20%) has struggled a bit lately. Durbin has picked up two holds in the last seven days. His bullpen mate Eric O’Flaherty (2%) is also an intriguing pickup as well for leagues with holds.

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.

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