Sometimes scouring the waiver wire isn’t about finding a replacement. If your wire is as barren as mine, it’s about identifying those players who might be the next hot add. Those players who have been making a little noise but not enough for you to notice, or those guys who have been or may get a call soon but aren’t receiving the media attention and could come in under the radar. These players might make a nice addition as a speculative add, but depending on the aggressiveness of your league, they can be monitored on waivers until it’s time to strike. When should you strike, I’ll leave that to your best judgment.
Kyle Parker (Rockies): Parker is one of those under the radar prospects. He’s moved through each level of the minors with little to no problem, and while he might not be a star, he could be a stable bat. Take a look at his minor league totals.
Good walks, high but not uncontrollable strikeouts, decent power, good batting eye, everything you want in a hitter. The power hasn’t shown through this year (his first in AAA), but all his other numbers are in line. With Cuddyer out for an extended period of time, Parker has the perfect opportunity to take advantage. The only thing holding him back and hold you back from picking him up is playing time. If he starts to get semi-regular at bats and does well, grab him before his playing time increases and get in on the ground floor.
Mike Moustakas (Royals): He’s been labeled everything from bust to breakout player. So far it’s been more of the former, and with a .176 average, he’s probably hiding on your waiver wire right now. Over the past 14 days, Moose has 4 home runs, 9 RBIs and 8 runs scored, all while hitting .286. Just as important, he has 6 walks to 7 strikeouts during that time. Is this a turn around, is Moustakas finally breaking out of his funk? Unless I am desperate for a third baseman, I’m not going to run out and add him right now. He should be immediately added to your watch list though. He’s only 25 and was once highly regarded by the fantasy community. Not all prospects hit the ground running and sometimes it takes years to figure things out (look at Chris Davis). It could just be a hot streak or a sign of things to come.
Jimmy Nelson (Brewers): Marco Estrada is on thin ice in Milwaukee and was hit hard again on Friday. Manager Ron Roenicke has said that Nelson could be called upon if things continue to go down hill, will 7 runs in 5.2 innings is pretty down hill in my book. Nelson was brought up for a spot start this year and went 5.2 scoreless innings with 5 hits, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts, but was sent back to AAA afterwards. What has he done in AAA so far this year?
Those numbers make him look like a star, and while Nelson is good, he’s not That good. That’s not to take anything away from him. He is still a very good young pitcher, I just don’t want you to get the wrong impression. This year though, Nelson has been on fire, and what is impressive about those numbers is the fact that he’s putting them up in the PCL. An ERA under 2.0, WHIP below 1.0 and only 1 home run allowed is damn impressive. While his career minor league numbers are higher, he’s hot this year and that roll he’s on could continue in the majors if he’s promoted. You can wait around for another Estrada mess to happen, or you can make a preemptive strike here. I recommend the latter because one he starts receiving the press time, it might be too late for you.
Alejandro De Aza (White Sox): Many thought he could be a 20/20 player this year, but all he’s done is give his best B.J. Upton impersonation so far. 5 home runs, 9 stolen bases and 23 RBIs aren’t bad, but the .210 batting average is a deal breaker. There has been signs of life the past 2 weeks. During that time De Aza is batting .353 with 5 runs, 5 RBIs and 2 steals. He only has 1 home run for the past month, but the rest of his game is starting to come around. The Sox are still unsure about the resurgence so De Aza is still hitting at the bottom of the order, but if he continue hitting he could find himself back at the top where he was last year. Just like Moustakas, this could be just a hot streak or a breakout. Add him to your watch list and monitor the situation closely, or add him if you’re in a gambling mood. Keep in mind he can’t hit lefties (batting .047 against them) so you’ll need to keep an eye on his matchups.
Josh Rutledge (Rockies): He was a sleeper coming into 2013, but by the end of the year most of us had tossed out our hands and forgot about him. He’s Baaaack. Ok, he’s not fully back and hasn’t stolen a base and has hit just 1 home run, but he’s hitting for average and getting full-time at bats. Hitting .353 the past 14 days since taking over second base. DJ LeMahieu has been filling in at third and Nolan Arenado is still about 3 weeks away from returning. If Rutledge continues to hit like this the Rockies could have an interesting situation at second once Arenado returns. We could see a time share between Rutledge & LeMahieu, Rutledge getting the lions share of work at second or relinquished back to the bench. For the short-term, Rutledge can make a nice speculative grab for deeper leagues or those that use a MI slot. The rest of you can just add him to your watch list and watch how this unfolds, but if Rutledge takes over at second once Arenado is back, he could be a real sparkplug for the second half.
A few quick notes about other players that may be out there, but some will not be for long.
- Raul Ibanez was released yesterday. That makes C.J. Cron ripe for the picking. I jumped on him in two of my leagues and if he’s out there, I suggest you follow suit.
- Mark Melancon has replaced Jason Grilli. While this might only be temporary, Melancon should be owned but is still available in just over 40% of CBS leagues and less than that in Yahoo leagues. The door is closing.
- Down goes Floyd. I feel bad for Floyd but I’m happy for Alex Wood. He is only available in 25% of CBS leagues, but a little over 40% of you in Yahoo still have a chance to grab him.
- Jake Arrieta is entering the circle of trust and is available in 40% of CBS & 60% of Yahoo leagues. Just like Bartolo Colon last year, time to put aside your feelings and misconceptions and take a leap of faith.
- J.D. Martinez is beginning to look like the player the Astros knew he could be in the minors, but he’s doing it in Detroit. He still doesn’t walk and strikes out too much, but with a .317 average and 7 home runs in 104 at bats, grab him and ride him until the wheels fall off.
- Danny Duffy has strung 4 decent games together. His next start is at home against the Dodgers, if he does well he might be worthy of a roster spot.
- Billy Butler has hit .413 over the past two weeks with 1 home run and 11 RBIs. Just like Melancon above, he’s still out there but the window is closing. He could still match last years totals.
- Brock Holt is still available in almost 50% of CBS & Yahoo leagues. A guy who qualifies for first, third and outfield and batting over .300 should not be on waivers, especially with all the injuries this year. Find a spot for him people.
- Jose Quintana has 11 quality starts in 15 games started, has allowed more than 3 runs only 3 times and has pitched 6 or more innings in 12 of his 15 starts. He’s turning into a workhorse that should be owned in more than 30% of Yahoo leagues.
Drop or Not: These players are being dropped; the question is, should they be?
Marco Estrada (Brewers): Before Fridays game I’m might have said give him another start or two to work things out based upon what he did the 2 years prior. Today I say cut your losses. If he does figure things out in the future, he’ll be available on your waiver wire.
Ryan Vogelsong (Giants): Vogelsong has been on a slide the last 4 games, but that is no reason to give up on him. He held an ERA of 3.2 before the side and finished May with a 3.45 ERA. His velocity is basically where it was in 2012 as are many of his other numbers. The SIERA and xFIP suggest Vogelsong won’t be any worse that what you see now so the worst should be over. If you own him, hold out a little longer. If he is available to you in 12 team leagues or deeper, pick him up.
Mike Leake (Reds): Mike has definitely sprung a leak after his hot start to the season. His ERA has gone up a full point over the last 4 starts. A 3.80 ERA isn’t a deal breaker in fantasy, but combined with the low strikeout totals he looks like a young Bronson Arroyo. When Leake is on he is worth owning, but when he’s off, he’s equal to many pitchers available on waivers in 12 team leagues. Up until Friday I would have suggested dropping Leake; after his 8 inning 4 hit game against the Blue Jays on Saturday, I might suggest holding him for now (especially with games @SF, @SD and home vs the Cubs on tap).
Adam Lind (Blue Jays): Lind is hitting for a very good average this year which is a welcome surprise considering his performances in the past. Unfortunately, fantasy owners expect more than 3 home runs and 19 RBIs. Those are second baseman numbers so I can see why he’s being dropped. Should owners stick with him? That all comes down to your league size. 10 team-waiver fodder, 12 team-not a bad option of you use 4 outfielders and 1 or more utility slot, 14 or more teams you should hold him. The power come around at any time, he did hit 7 homers in a month twice last year. If he’s available, watch for the long ball (and remember he can’t hit lefties).
Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies): Not much explanation needed, and I wish more owners would follow suit in dropping De La Rosa. He has high strikeout potential and has shown flashes of brilliance at times. Unfortunately, when you look at the package on a whole, he’s nothing more than a 33-year-old pitchers that has had one good season and another partial one in 2011. He’s streamer/waiver wire material, not someone you want to own unless you’re in something deeper than a 14 team league.
Nathan Eovaldi (Marlins): He’s not being dropped in masses, but with a 9% decline in Yahoo and a 5% drop in CBS, he deserves to be addressed. He had a few bad starts, these things happen in baseball. You don’t go dropping a guy after a few bad starts, especially one that had a 3.05 ERA before those 2 games. Hold him for a few more games at least if you have him and are feeling froggy. If you play in CBS odds are Eovaldi is owned, but he is available in over 60% of yahoo leagues for those of you who want to take a flyer.