Waiver Wire Report: Hitters Edition

I had several topics in mind to discuss in my opening to this week’s waiver wire report, but I’ve decided to keep things short and sweet.  I know what you came here for, and it wasn’t to hear me ramble on about looking for the next big thing or hot guy at the plate.  You want players, plain and simple, so that’s what I’m going to give you.  Some of these players could be long-term adds, some of them are just temporary, but all of them deserve some attention now in case they take off and you lose your chance to acquire them.  Lets get to it.

2-3B – Marcus Semien (White Sox): I’ve mentioned Semien a few times already this year, but I’m not opposed to beating a dead horse.  People are down on Semien because of his batting average, and with the impending return of Conor Gillaspie he’s being dropped by owners.  I think this is a mistake as his batting average makes him out to be worse than he really is.  Currently among second basemen, Semien is ranked in the top 10 for home runs, RBI, and runs scored.  One more stolen base and he would be in the top 10 in 4 of the 5 categories we use in standard leagues.  The 800 pound gorilla in the room is playing time; with Gillaspie back he’ll lose his everyday slot at third, but what about second?  With the way Beckham is playing now and given his unimpressive numbers over his career, is it really unfathomable that Beckham loses playing time?  It’s not going to happen right away, but more than likely it will happen.  There are sexier second basemen, but none of those are available.  If you’re in need of someone at second or for your MI slot, clear some room for this kid.  And if you’re thinking about dropping him, hold off for a few weeks if you can just to see how things play out.  The White Sox are high on him, there’s power and speed here and as the average goes up, so will his stock and price tag.

Currently available in 55% of CBS, 87% of Yahoo, 91% of ESPN and 47% of Fantrax leagues

OF – Chris Heisey (Reds): He’s not exactly setting the world on fire right now, but with Jay Bruce on the shelf and Billy Hamilton potentially out for several weeks with a hand injury, there’s playing time to be had.  First the positives.  He has enough power to hit 20 or more home runs and the speed to steal 10+ bases (although that speed hasn’t been present in the majors).  Finally while he only batting in the .250 neighborhood, he was a .293 hitter in the minors.  On the other side of the coin, he has a problem with lefties (although he did hit .274 against them in 2012).  Then there are the walks and strikeouts, he seems to enjoy the latter a little too much (but his BB & K’s were closer in the minors).  Finally there is the batting average, and while he was a .293 hitter in the minors, he only managed to hit .258 in AAA and .254 so far in the majors.

This one is a crap shoot.  The batting average combined with his age say he’s just a fourth outfielder/bench player, but he is capable of batting over .300 and doing great things if given ample playing time.  Monitor this one closely and if Heisey turns in a few multi-hit games, add him to your bench for an extended look.

Currently available in 93% of CBS, 98% of Yahoo, 99% of ESPN and 87% of Fantrax leagues

SS – Wilmer Flores (Mets): The Mets are putting an end to the Ruban Tejada experiment and have called up Wilmer Flores.  He’s not that impressive if you look at his numbers on a whole, but there are little things that can useful.  First is Flores holds a .290 batting average in the minors (.318 in 538 at bats in AAA) and was hitting .307 before getting the call.  The power is also starting to show through as he hit 15 home runs and 36 doubles last year in AAA, and this year in AAA he has 5 home runs and 5 doubles.  Granted that was in Las Vegas so temper your expectations a little.  Given the unimpressive start most shortstops have had (Erick Aybar & Jed Lowrie to name a few), Flores could be a spark plug your lineup needs provided he can bring his contact skills to the majors.  His counting stats will come down to where he hits in the line up, but don’t let his place in the batting order deter you from taking a chance on him now.  Also, Flores may also qualify for second or third base in your league depending on the fantasy site you play on.

Currently available in 95% of CBS, 99% of Yahoo & ESPN and 86% of Fantrax leagues

OF – Juan Lagares (Mets): No sooner did Lagares return from the DL, manager Terry Collins said he was their starting centerfielder and part of the Mets future.  The Mets are batting him at the top of the lineup so he should score a decent amount of runs.  Lagares also has some speed; granted it’s not Eric Young speed but enough to steal 25 bases (or more if improves his base running skills).  Like many youngsters he has yet to master the art of walking, so his value will come down to batting average.  If he can put up maintain something close to the .285 he hit in the minors, Lagares could be a useful 3 category player.  He deserves a flyer at this point, maybe a start depending on your current lineup.

Currently available in 83% of CBS, 95% of Yahoo, 97% of ESPN and 67% of Fantrax leagues

1B – C.J. Cron (Angels): By now you should be aware of C.J. Cron and what he’s done in the minors, but just in case:

Year Level AB Runs 2B RBI HR BA OBP
2009/2011 NCAA 641 145 61 198 46 .396 .459
2011 rk 143 30 5 41 13 .308 .371
2012 A+ 525 73 32 27 123 .293 .327
2013 AA 519 56 36 14 83 .274 .319
2014 AAA 113 19 12 6 26 .319 .369

After 3 successful years at the University of Utah, Cron has flown through the minors.  The power may not have followed him through to each level, but the doubles did.  He doesn’t walk much but he doesn’t strike out much either.  The batting average declined at each level but has remained respectable.  The question is, can the 24-year-old succeed in the majors.  My magic 8-ball said to ask again later so I’m not sure myself.  What I do know is, anyone that has displayed that kind of power getting semi-regular playing time deserves a shot.  He may fall on his face, but if he turns into a Charlie Blackmon you’ll be kicking yourself watching those numbers go to your opponent (or worse yet, against you).

Currently available in 94% of Yahoo, 97% of ESPN and 68% of CBS & Fantrax leagues

1B/OF – Kyle Blanks (Padres): Blanks was recalled from the minors this week and manager Bud Black stated he could see increased playing time over the struggling Yonder Alonso.  I listed Blanks as a super sleeper earlier this year, and this could be the opportunity he’s been waiting for.  Two things have always stood in Kyle’s way.  One is opportunity and the second is his batting average.  Blanks was a .300 hitter in the minors (despite the high strikeout numbers), but he has only shown flashed of that at the major league level.  He was hitting .265 with 9 home runs recalled from AAA, anything close to that average along with his power could lead to consistent playing time.  At the magic age of 27, if there was ever a time to believe that a breakout was coming, it’s now.  Given his track record, I don’t see owners rushing out to grab Blanks so you can safely monitor the situation for now.  This is the week to take a flyer though as the Padres play 3 at Cincinnati and 3 at Colorado.

Currently available in 98% of CBS, 99% of Yahoo & ESPN and 93% of Fantrax leagues

C – A.J. Pierzynski (Red Sox): Matt Wieters is banged up, Yan Gomez, Brian McCann & Carlos Santana are slumping, Wilin Rosaio & Devin Mesoraco are on the DL, and old man A.J. Pierzynski just keeps on going (guess he uses Duracell).  Among qualifying catchers, Pierzynski ranks in the top 10 for RBIs & batting average and just outside the top 10 for runs scored.  Many shied away from A.J. to start the year, going for high-profile or upside players.  If you have one of these injured or slumping backstops, it’s time to take a flyer on father time.  If you ignore the age and just look at the numbers, you’ll be more than happy with the player and the results.

Currently available in 40% of Fantrax, 67% of ESPN and  53% of CBS & Yahoo leagues

If A.J. is not available, Welington Castillo and Derek Norris are both solid choices available in 70%  or more of CBS, Fantrax, ESPN & Yahoo leagues

OF – B.J. Upton (Braves): I’ve talked enough about Upton in the past so I’m not going to rehash what he’s done.  Over the past two weeks he’s only hit .225, but he does have 1 home run, 3 stolen bases and has been starting to get some hits.  We’d be happier to see a few multi-hit games, but it’s a start and maybe the glasses are working (they worked for Ricky Vaughn).  Keep your eye on wild thing and maybe take a flyer on him, his batting average won’t do you any favors but you won’t find a cheaper potential 20/20 player on waivers.

Currently available in 61% of CBS, 67% of Yahoo, 48% ESPN and 43% of Fantrax leagues

 

Some other notes on players who have been or should be finding their way to the waiver wire along with some highly owned players who deserve some reevaluation.

Former waiver wire darling Chris Colabello is batting .146 with 1 home run and 2 RBIs over the past 14 days.  He still holds a .270 average with 4 home runs and 28 RBIs so you may be able to flip him to an unsuspecting owner before his value completely collapses.  He should not be in your active lineup right now, but I’ll leave it to you to decide when to drop him as he may come out of this slump (I dropped him, but that’s me).

Eric Young was a popular pick/waiver wire addition because of his speed.  Unfortunately E.Y. is only hitting .212 for the year (.185 the past 2 weeks) and will have to fight Chris Young for playing time.  There is speed here (12 stolen bases this year), but if he can’t hit his weight or get on base, he’s not worth having on your roster.  If you have a deep bench and you want to hold him in case he comes around that’s your decision.  In my world, you can find better on waivers.

Pablo Sandoval was dropped in several leagues I’m part of.  Part of me understands the frustration.  This was supposed to be his breakout year with him losing weight and playing for a contract.  Instead he’s batting below .200 with only 2 home runs.  I’m not going to tell you not to drop him (I own him and have been tempted myself), but nobody would condemn you if you did.  Sandoval has never been one for scoring runs (over 61 just once) or knocking them in (over 70 twice).  He can hit for power, but has only hit over 20 home runs in a season twice.  He’s at the right age for a breakout, but at the moment the odds of that happening are bleak.  If you can find an interested owner then trade him away.  If not, do what you have to do.

Jedd Gyorko is another player whose ownership has declined lately.  Just like Sandoval I understand the frustration, but unlike Pablo I’m going to recommend restraint here.  Gyroko’s minor league track record and power deserve a little patience; while some may consider this to be a sophomore slump, I’m writing this off as a slow start.  You can trade him if you feel differently, but for god sakes don’t drop him.

I can’t recommend the same restraint with Everth Cabrera.  The speedster is struggling to not only hit for average but also to get on base (4 walks in close to 150 at bats.  Will Venable has replaced Cabrera at the top of the order, dropping him to the number 2 spot.  If he doesn’t start hitting here, a much larger drop in the order is coming.  Cabrera’s value is tied to his average and speed, and right now he’s not giving enough of either to warrant a starting job on your fake team.  His ownership has dropped down to 80% in CBS leagues and just like Sandoval, it is warranted.  I’d try to find a willing trading partner who believes he will come around and just like I recommended with Sandoval.  Get your stolen bases elsewhere and find a better shortstop.

Curtis Granderson was screaming drop me a week ago, but he’s starting to come around lately even if his average doesn’t reflect that.  In the past week Granderson has batted .308 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs.  Maybe he’s coming around or maybe he was just due; regardless of which one of these instances is true, don’t make the mistake of dropping him (like I did in one league).  He’s only one year removed from a 40 home run campaign and while I don’t see him reaching that plateau again, 27 is a realistic number.  He should be benched or traded, but should not be on waivers except in 10 team leagues.

Kelly Johnson is a nice player to own as he is eligible all over the infield plus the outfield, but that’s his only use.   I can’t see his ownership being over 15% (let along close to 40% in CBS leagues), and that ownership should be limited to AL only and deep leagues.  A batting average below .230 and only 5 runs scored are numbers that are hard to swallow for a second baseman and at the corners those numbers are unplayable.  There were high hopes the short porch in Yankee Stadium would improve Johnson’s power numbers, and they have as he’s on pace to hit 20 long balls.  Unfortunately the rest of his numbers resemble those of Mark Reynolds.  If that doesn’t make you want to drop Johnson, I don’t know what will.

We wrap this week up with Aramis Ramirez.  It’s another slow start for Aramis.  Take his slow start, age (36 in July) and injuries last year and you can see why some owners are starting to sour.  His ownership is starting to dip, but this isn’t a player you want to drop.  This isn’t even a player you want to trade away.  This is someone you want to trade for (or scoop up if he was released).  Ramirez is a notoriously slow starter and over the next 30 days his stock should continue to drop where you may be able to acquire him for less than half price.  He usually doesn’t start hitting until June, and over the last 3 years Ramirez has been a .300 hitter after the all-star break.  If he’s on waivers then pick him up and stash him away for your playoff run.  If you own him, hide him one your bench and live with your replacement for another month.  And if he’s on someone else’s team, try to get him this month while the stock as at an all-time low.  Don’t pay too much as there is a risk with an aging player, but for the right price it’s a calculated risk worth taking.

Jim Finch

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The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball.