I don’t know about the rest of you, but the waiver wire is thin – almost anorexic, in the leagues I play in. The internet has made it virtually impossible to sneak a sleeper past your league-mates or snag that next potential stud coming up from the minors without a fight. In today’s game, if you snooze – you lose. Twitter has made things even more dangerous as anyone with a smart phone can potentially be informed of a call up, injury or demotion hours before the rest of the fantasy world catches wind of any news. Still, with all the advancements, with all the technology and all the advantages owners have today, there are still useful players on waivers that are being ignored.
Maybe some of these players should be available. The roster sizes of the leagues I have been playing in are larger than standard leagues, and not every league uses 4 or more outfielders along with MI and CI slots (though they should). I see players available and want to scream some days; not necessarily because they are available, but because they are not available to me. Then I look closer at the numbers and compare them to what other players are doing and it turns out, those players on waivers are better than a good number of players being roster and played on a daily basis. I feel a rant coming on now that could go on for the entire page, but you didn’t come here to hear me rant, did you? OK, maybe a few of you did; I do enjoy the angry ramblings of fantasy writers from time to time (Howard Bender and his Kicking Rocks column come to mind). For now I’ll just crack open a beer and relax while you look over this week’s waiver wire.
Joey Butler (OF – Rays): He hit the ground running when promoted in May and hasn’t stopped. Butler finished May with a .329 average and 3 home runs over 73 at bats. So far in June he is hitting .314 with a home run and 3 steals. The steals are somewhat of a surprise, but in a way they are not. Butler had shown some decent speed in the minors, enough to steal 15 bags a year (give or take), but after 2011 he stopped running. Apparently Tampa has rekindled the running game which is a bonus for fantasy owners. Butler owns a .294 career minor league average (.305 in AAA over 1,513 at bats) along with a K/BB% of 2/1. Half of his at bats have been from the two spot so run and RBI opportunities will be there. Overall Butler will make contributions in every category but will not stand out in a single one making him a solid number 3/4 outfielder. This is his first full year in the majors so we should expect a slump somewhere along the line, but for now plug him in with confidence.
Available in 88% of Yahoo, 80% of ESPN and 74% of CBS leagues
Brock Holt (3B/OF/? – Red Sox): Holt qualifies for 3B and OF, but if you play on Yahoo he qualifies everywhere but catcher. We all remember what the Sox spark plug did last season, and this year he has picked up where he left off – making the most of every at bat. The main issue here is playing time, but with a number of players struggling offensively (Castillo .226 / Betts .234 / Ortiz .220 / Napoli .205) Holt has pushed his way into the lineup at every single position this season (I wonder if he can catch?). He has started in all but one game since June 3rd so checking your lineup daily to see if he is in the lineup is becoming less of a chore. His overall line will be average come September, but a bench player that can play any position that you can plug in at random is a wonderful thing in fantasy.
Available in 82% of Yahoo, 93% of ESPN and 86% of CBS leagues
Leonys Martin (OF – Rangers): Martin made a call to Pedro Cerrano and discovered the voodoo ritual to wake up bats, and it worked. For the month of June, Martin is batting .367 raising his average 23 points. At this point you all know that his main asset is speed with 69 stolen bases over the past two seasons. The speed is always there even when he is not hitting; look at what he did in April (.236 average – 6 steals). There is a lot of cheap speed to be had this year so Martin’s speed is only useful when he is hitting, like now. Ownership levels are somewhat high, but if he is available I would snag him.
Available in 56% of Yahoo, 62% of ESPN and 59% of CBS leagues
Kevin Pillar (OF – Blue Jays): Before I get into what Pillar is doing and can offer your team, you should know what he did in the minors first.
He may only be hitting .240, but as you can see there is potential for more. Pillar is batting .357 for the month of June and for the season he has 4 home runs and 8 steals. His spot in the batting order isn’t ideal (5th through 8th), but realistically, is there really a bad spot in the order for Toronto? Among his fellow outfielders, Pillar is tied for 13th in runs scored, in the top 25 for stolen bases and just outside the top 25 for RBIs. There is a lot to like here and there is some upside as well. Pillar is a five category player who could finish with a line similar to Kole Calhoun last season (except reverse the HR & SB totals). After looking at his numbers, I just added him in a league where he was available.
Available in 84% of Yahoo, 70% of ESPN and 59% of CBS leagues
Adam LaRoche (1B – White Sox): Ownership levels are high, but maybe LaRoche has slipped through the cracks in your league. After a slow start he quietly batted .270 in May and has dialed it up to .300 for June. While LaRoche hasn’t always followed the same pattern, historically he is a second half player (.250 pre / .281 post all-star) with August and September being his best months for average and power. This is the main reason you see LaRoche available in almost 50% of Yahoo and 60% of ESPN leagues; owners dump him early and then try to scoop him back up again later when he starts to heat up. While there may be one more slump left in him, now is the time to add LaRoche. Eventually the rest of the Sox will start hitting and he will reap the rewards like all cleanup hitters do.
Available in 48% of Yahoo, 59% of ESPN and 34% of CBS leagues
Vincent Velasquez (SP – Astros): The hype machine started Sunday with rumors of his promotion; an announcement was made on Monday that he would be called up, and on Wednesday Velasquez made his debut. CBS leagues are ahead of the curve so he is gone in most competitive leagues, but those of you on ESPN and (especially) Yahoo still have a chance. As you already know, Velasquez pitched 5 shutout innings the other day against the White Sox (3H, 4BB, 5K). He was on fire in AA before his promotion with a 1.37 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and a K/9 of 12.65. The sample size is small (26 innings), but you never argue with a player on a hot streak. Last season in A+ he had an ERA was 3.74 with a 1.23 WHIP. Walks and home runs have been an issue in the past; the 4 walks on Wednesday show he still has issues here.
There is no denying the strikeout ability though with a minor league K/9 of 10.74. Velasquez has a big fastball that hits 95 MPH regularly and he can dial it back some to exceed that when needed. His slider is above average but still needs work and refinement and the changeup and curveball are a work in progress. With a little more experience he could be a decent major league pitcher, but for this year I see growing pains – but maybe not right off the bat. Velasquez wasn’t supposed to reach the majors this year so teams have had little time to scout him. This gives him and the Astros the element of surprise so you could catch lightning in a bottle. His next start is at home on Tuesday against a struggling Rockies team followed by a road trip to Seattle (another struggling team with a cavernous home park). After that it’s home versus the Yankees and Royals then on the road versus the Indians and Rays. Not exactly stiff competition.
I’m sure pitching has been picked clean so I would take a shot on Velasquez. If he does well over his next few starts I would dangle him in front of owners in my league and maybe use him as a player to sweeten a potential deal. Velasquez could be good one day, but he is not going to keep up this pace all year. Use him for what he’s worth for now, trade him early if you can, and then throw him back when he starts to come apart; by that time the new flavor of the month will be called up.
Available in 94% of Yahoo, 75% of ESPN and 44% of CBS leagues
Available in over 95% of Yahoo, ESPN and CBS leagues
Ivan De Jesus (2B – Reds): With Zack Cozart on the DL, the SS position should belong to De Jesus for the time being. If the name sounds familiar, it should; De Jesus has made several failed attempts to catch on in the majors since 2011. He isn’t a power guy nor a speed guy, but he can contribute to both categories at times (2 home runs since being called up). De Jesus is a hitter, plain and simple, with a .297 career average in AAA over 1,772 at bats. For comparison, think along the lines of Joe Panik of the Giants. The Reds had him in the leadoff spot on Thursday night which could add to his value if he produces the way he was in AAA before being called up (.303 average). There are no guarantees here and De Jesus is a risky pick for 12 team leagues, but for larger and deeper leagues he is worth taking a shot on. At age 28, the chances to impress are getting thin which might be the motivation he needs.
David Murphy (OF – Indians): Did anyone notice Mr. Murphy is hitting .331? After a pedestrian .256 April, Murphy went on to hit .371 in May and is batting .375 in June – so this is more than a quick hot streak. He is no stranger to hitting for a high average with a .304 in 2012, .291 in 2010 and a few seasons of .275. The speed is long gone but he can still reach double digits in home runs. The Indians have him all over the lineup so runs and RBIs are hard to predict. The only predictable factor is that he will only be in the lineup when there is a righty on the mound. Because of this, you will need to check your daily matchups so you don’t end up with an o’fer. Murphy could also be in line for more playing time with Nick Swisher hitting .204. Until that happens Murphy is not someone for standard 12 team leagues, but for larger leagues he could be a decent 4th outfield option if just need a solid batting average guy to hold down the fort. Murphy will not win you your league, but he won’t lose it for you either.
Juan Uribe (3B – Braves): There has been a Juan Uribe sighting in Atlanta. Over the past 14 days, Uribe is batting .279 with 2 home runs, 7 RBIs and 6 runs scored. He doesn’t get hot often and his production usually comes in spurts so this one may be over quick. 12 teams leagues need not bother as there are plenty of 3B and CI options available, but larger and deeper leagues in need of a Band-Aid for an injured or slumping player may want to take a flyer.
Mining the Minors
Players who were recently called (or could be soon) to stash or monitor
Jarrett Parker (Giants): Last week I said to monitor Adam Duvall as a potential stash; apparently the Giants went the other direction with Hunter Pence on the verge of being placed on the DL. For those of you unfamiliar with Parker:
The high OBP is due to his ability to draw a walk; 292 walks over 1,964 minor league at bats. The low batting average has a high strikeout percentage to thank, but he has shown some signs of improvement. Parker has a nice combination of power and speed and could be thrown into the fire (so to speak) if Pence does indeed need a DL trip. Like all rookies when they are called up, Parker could either hit the ground running and be lightning in a bottle for your team or strikeout a ton and be waiver fodder in another week. With a number of outfielders either dinged up or under-achieving, Parker could be a breath of fresh air.
Peter O’Brien (Diamondbacks): With Mark Trumbo traded, O’Brien is an injury away from a potential call up. Acquired from the Yankees last season, O’Brien has wasted no time impressing his new team at AAA batting .321 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs. His splits are encouraging as well with a .282 average versus righties and a .375 mark versus lefties. Last year across 3 levels for 2 different teams, O’Brian cranked out 39 home runs with 86 RBIs. Strikeouts have always been an issue, but this year the strikeout percentage is at 22.4% which shows progress. The former catcher has been playing OF this season; while the club has made no official statement on if the move is permanent, it probably is.
A.J. Pollock has one OF spot locked up and Ender Inciarte has taken another and will not give it up without a fight. That leaves one spot for David Peralta (who is falling short of living up to last year’s expectations) and Yasmany Tomas (who could shift back to third if Jake Lamb slumps). The D’Backs top catching option is batting .211 so it is possible they pull the plug on Tuffy Gosewisch and move O’Brien back behind the plate temporary to get his bat in the lineup. Regardless of where he plays, he should be someone to monitor and scoop up if an injury occurs in Arizona.
Saves on the Wire
Rafael Soriano (Cubs): Things could get real interesting in Chicago as manager Joe Maddon said “he is no longer locked in on a specific closer”. Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Jason Motte have done OK, but none of them stand out. Justin Grimm has a better strikeout percentage than all 3 relievers, but he is walking too many and doesn’t have the best track record. Things seem to be set up nicely for newly acquired Rafael Soriano who converted 191 out of 218 save opportunities since 2009. Soriano has had his ups and down (the second half collapse last season was one of those downs), but overall he has been a steady closer with a career K/9 just over 9.0. If you are in need of saves and have a spare roster spot, it might be worth it to stash Soriano now. There are no guarantees in the saves game, but if you don’t stay one step ahead of your opponent – he could be the one with Soriano on his roster.
Available in 98% of ESPN and 88% of Yahoo and CBS leagues
Ken Giles (Phillies): The Papelbon rumor mill is heating up and it is only a matter of when we will see Giles in the 9th. We would like to see a few less walks, but the strikeouts are there with a K/9 of 9.0. It would also be nice to see the FB% come down some, 43% is a dangerous number given his home park. Giles’ calling card is his fastball and ability to strike out batters. His velocity is down this year to 95.2 MPH; I know many pitchers who would love to throw that fast and it is still a good number, but it is somewhat disappointing when you consider he was averaging 97.2 MPH this time last year. All the number mumbo jumbo aside, Giles is the heir apparent in Philly when they finally do trade Papelbon. You won’t get many saves from Giles when this does happen; Papelbon only has 12 this year which is good enough to place in the bottom half of the top 20, but you will get strikeouts and a closer with job security. Instead of waiting for the trade to happen, be a little proactive like some of the owners out there and roster Giles now.
Available in 64% of Yahoo, 77% of ESPN and 75% of CBS leagues
Finding their way to the Waiver Wire
Each week I will feature players whose ownership levels far exceed that players value who you should consider dropping for someone useful. This week’s drop is none other than – David Ortiz. We wrote off the .236 average in April because it was early. We tolerated the .214 average in May because it was assumed he would come around. It is now June and he is hitting .192 this month. It is time to pull the plug, acknowledge the great career he had and send Ortiz to waivers. Here are the facts.
- The average fly ball distance which was 297 and 301 feet the past two seasons is down to 280 feet.
- His ISO is 153, down over 100 points from what he has averaged the past 5 years.
- Fly ball percentage (34%) is 9% lower than his career average and the lowest of his career.
- Ground ball percentage (45%) is 9% higher than his career average and the highest of his career.
- Lefties are crushing him this year (.114) and the Red Sox actually sat him the other day against Wei-Yin Chen who he holds a career .308 average against.
- The road batting average has been .273 or higher since 2011, this year Ortiz can’t crack .200 (.180).
- Ortiz is pulling the ball less and hitting 40% of his shots towards center, a bad spot for a player whose power is on the decline.
- Finally, Ortiz is 39, technically 39 1/2.
I knew back in January that Ortiz would decline, but I though he would still be useful. Age is a tricky thing to predict when it comes to players. If Ortiz continues on his current pace, he will be lucky to finish with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs. You can probably get better from Kennys Vargas whose availability is roughly equal to Big Papi’s ownership levels. Nostalgia doesn’t win fantasy titles and neither does hope. I still love Ortiz the player, but for fantasy purposes – he’s done.
Previous Waiver Wire Recommendations
I like to hold myself accountable for past recommendations so I will monitor
and misses from the previous weeks and adjust the players accordingly.
This is the last week Chris Colabello, Billy Burns, Lance McCullers, John Axford and Erick Aybar will appear here. Their ownership levels are high enough that they should not be available with the exception of 10 team leagues. If they are on waivers, your window of opportunity is closing.
Continue to add
- Mitch Moreland, Maikel Franco, Carson Smith, Ben Paulsen, Delino Deshields, Andre Ethier, Matt Duffy, Joe Panik, Jung Ho Kang, Justin Turner, Ryan Howard, Chad Bettis, Mike Bolsinger, Tom Koehler, and Kyle Gibson are all still solid additions if they are available.
- Nick Ahmed, Todd Cunningham, Aaron Hicks, Jace Peterson,Juan Lagares, Will Middlebrooks, Yunel Escobar, Odubel Herrera, Wilmer Flores and Cory Spangenberg are good for larger and deeper leagues and could have use in 12 team leagues as well.
- Jonathan Singleton and Adam Duvall are minor league players to monitor and consider stashing.
- Nick Hundley – Michael McKenry, Francisco Cervelli and James McCann should be owned if you need catcher help.
Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet unless necessary
- Ruban Tejada moves from add to hold with his recent trip to the DL.
- Preston Tucker, Brandon Guyer, Mike Zunino and Brandon Barnes have gone cold and should be on your bench (for now).
- Danny Espinosa, Gerardo Parra and Brad Miller have started hitting again; enough to warrant a hold but not enough that you should add them (except in deeper leagues).
- Jake Lamb is back from the DL but we are still not sure how playing time will pan out.
- Chris Heston and James Happ both had bounce back games; while both are streamer options, they can be counted on more often than not if you can hold them.
- Just like the graduates above, this is the last time A.J. Pierzynski, Rubby De La Rosa and Nick Castellanos will appear here. If you have not dropped these players, now’s the time to do so.
- Jake Marisnick is now officially a drop even with a few hot games, Preston Tucker is the flavor of the month.
- Aaron Hill moves from hold to Drop and brought Chase Headley and Anthony Gose along for company. You may be able to trade Gose, but you have a limited time to do so.
- Caleb Joseph has hit .164 with 1 home run over the past 30 days and Matt Wieters just put the final nail in his coffin; time to move on. Miguel Montero is another catcher you should be moving on from with a .154 over the past 30 days = .074 over the past two weeks.
- Brandon Marrow is no longer a DL stash with his latest setback.
- Michael Taylor has done nothing with the additional playing time and loses more value batting at the bottom of the lineup.
- Luis Valbuena will score you runs, give you some homers and contribute in RBIs, but he will tank your batting average (.163 in May – .125 in June).
Need more waiver wire recommendations, 2-start pitchers, prospect news and general fantasy baseball goodness, head on over to Fantasy Rundown