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Waiver Wire Report: What have you done for me Lately?

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At this stage of the game if you are looking on waivers, you should not be looking at names and you should not be looking for long-term solutions (as nice as those are).  No, your main focus should be numbers.  And when I say numbers, I don’t mean what a player has done to date; those numbers are meaningless (somewhat).  I’m talking recent numbers like the past 30 days, those are the numbers that matter most.  If you look at a player’s final line it can be deceiving.  You may see a hitter with a .240 average who got off to a horrible start, but over the last X number of days he may have turned things around.  Same thing applies to pitchers; you will easily pass over a player with an ERA over 4.50, but that same pitcher may have been lights out over his last 5-6 starts which you will not notice right away if their ERA was bloated to begin with. 

You should also do this in reverse when evaluating your own team.  Aaron Harang has a 3.41 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, but if you look at the last 30 days his ERA and WHIP are 6.67 and 1.31 with only 1 quality start.  Yup, the wheels are coming off that early waiver wire darling.  It’s not about what a player has done for you, it’s about what have they done for you lately.  If you are not paying attention and you do not act quick enough, those types of players will slowly poison your team.  You should be looking at all the players on your team right now, figuring out who is just in a slump and who should be dumped for the next hot bat or arm on waivers.  I have several suggestions below to choose from as well as a number of under-owned players listed under previous recommendations you should consider. 

Carlos Beltran (OF – Yankees): A .162 batting average in April completely masked the fact that Beltran has been quietly productive.  He hit .298 in May (unbeknownst to me) and is currently hitting just above .300 for the month of June.  Sure, the run, home run and RBI totals are lower than we would like, but he is contributing to each category.  Beltran has been a top 50 outfield option the past two months; if you play with only 3 outfielders I can see not wanting him, but those that use 4 or more should be jumping on him.  At 38 years old, they may be his last hurrah before the inevitable collapse.

Available in 69% of Yahoo, 66% of ESPN and 56% of CBS leagues

Randal Grichuk (OF – Cardinals): He was slowly pushing for more playing time even before Matt Holliday went on the DL, but things have heated up since Holliday’s injury.  Over the past two weeks (36 at bats), Grichuk is batting .306 with 3 home runs, 7 RBIs, 9 runs scored and 1 stolen base; that’s good enough to qualify as a top 20 option.  His minor league numbers do not support his current batting average, but the power numbers suggest he could hit 25+ annually with a little seasoning.  You should not concern yourself about the fact Grichuk is hitting an average beyond what he has shown he is capable of, nor should you be wondering if he can keep up the power.  Remember what I said earlier, ignore the name and concentrate on the numbers.  Right now Grichuk can contribute to 4 categories and throw in the occasional steal.  Once Holliday returns he could see a crunch in playing time, but he should be in there more often than not as long as he’s hitting.  Ride this one as long as it lasts.

Available in 66% of CBS and 81% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues

Eddie Rosario (2B/OF – Twins):  He only qualifies for the OF on CBS, but his ownership levels are higher there compared to the other two sites so that should not be a deterrent.  Rosario doesn’t possess a powerful bat and does not have a ton of speed, but he is capable of reaching double digits in both categories.  Like Grichuk above, Rosario’s current batting average is higher than it was in the minors, but that should not concern you because he is hitting now.  Over the past 30 days he is batting .284 with 2 steals, 3 home runs, 7 RBIs and 12 runs scored.  Good enough numbers to use as a fourth outfielder in a pinch and easily worthy of using as a MI player.  Rosario is hitting lefties and righties equally well and enjoys hitting at home (.346); it’s the road games you have to watch out for (.185).  Overall he is a solid bench player to fill in when needed or possibly as a middle infielder.

Available in 98% of Yahoo, 93% of ESPN and 91% of CBS leagues

Michael A. Taylor (OF – Nationals): Taylor made his appearance here on the waiver wire report at the beginning of the season, but quickly fell out of favor when his bat fell on hard times.  Over the past 30 days Taylor has heat up batting .284 with 2 home runs, 4 steals, 12 RBIs and 12 runs scored. Taylor is batting .313 over the past two weeks, .409 over the past 7 days.  We have seen these types of outbursts from Taylor before; what’s different this time is Taylor has a strikeout percentage of 20.5% in June compared to 35+% the first two months.  Maybe he is starting to figure things out?  I’m not sure, but he is someone to keep a close eye on and maybe roll the dice with if you have a weak outfield or bench option on your team.

Available in 96% of Yahoo, 94% of ESPN and 78% of CBS leagues

Darren O’Day (RP – Orioles): There is nothing wrong with Zach Britton; this is just another overlooked underused underappreciated middle relief pitchers fantasy owners need to acknowledge.  O’Day comes in at #28 on ESPN’s player rater and ranks as the 17th most valuable relief pitcher in Yahoo games.  He is posting career high numbers this season in K/9 (11.62), LOB% (96.2), BABIP (.200), ERA (0.94), WHIP (0.80) and BAA (.152).  I know middle relievers don’t get saves, but they can vulture some wins (O’Day has 3 this month), contribute to strikeout totals and lower your ratios.  All you sadistic owners still rostering players like Steve Cishek, Fernando Rodney or Brett Cecil, do your team a favor and drop them for someone who isn’t going to kill your ERA and WHIP on a weekly basis.

Available in 80% of Yahoo, 88% of ESPN and 87% of CBS leagues

Erasmo Ramirez (SP – Rays): He has been sidelined for a few days with a strained groin, but that shouldn’t cloud the fact to what Erasmo has done over the past 30 days.  Before we get to the numbers, it may interest you to know that for the past 30 day, Ramirez is ranked at #16 on ESPN’s player rater and is the 3rd & 11th most valuable RP and SP on Yahoo.  Over this time (5 starts – 26.1 innings), Ramirez has allowed only 3 earned runs, 22 hits, 5 walks and zero home runs.  Tack on 22 strikeouts and 4 wins and you’ve got yourself an ace; an ace with limited innings potential but an ace none the less. 

His LOB% is low due to a horrible April; it has been 76.6% and rising since that time.  The steady increase to his line drive and fly ball percentages are somewhat worrisome as is the decline in groundballs, but if you look at these numbers from game to game you’ll see there are a few games that kind of skew the data.  Now while Ramirez has put up top-notch numbers the past 30 days, he is by no means an ace, but he is better than his numbers lead people to believe.  If you play in a league that uses quality starts, Ramirez is not for you.  For everyone else, Ramirez pitches well enough to put himself in line for a win, will give you a K/9 close to 7.0 and should put up a respectable WHIP and ERA more often than not.  He could make a decent back-end starter for many fantasy rotations.

Available in 88% of Yahoo, 89% of ESPN and 79% of CBS leagues.

Adam Warren (SP – Yankees): Mr. Warren comes in at #24 on ESPN’s player rater over the past 30 days with a 2.76 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over 32.2 innings (5 starts).  It has taken a little time for Warren to adjust back to life as a starter, but he is coming along.  In 6 of the past 7 starts he has gone at least 6.1 innings so the stamina is slowly building.  Over his last 8 starts he has not allowed more than 3 earned runs and has given up 2 earned runs or less in 6 of those 8 games.  The strikeout rate has dropped below 6.0 which doesn’t make me happy, but he does have a career K/9 of 7.31 so that could come up.  Warren’s batted ball profile is nicely split up; I would like to see a few less fly balls but overall it is an average line.  Also he pitches surprisingly well at Yankees Stadium (2.21 ERA). 

While I can recommend Warren with confidence now, this is far from a long-term solution.  He threw 77 innings in 2013 and 78.2 innings last season; this year he has already thrown 77 so we are about a month a way from a potential turning point.  That is then – this is now, and right now he is a safe add for fantasy teams.  As I write this Warren is pitching at Houston and has given up 2 earned runs over 5.2 innings.  Another solid game, I rest my case.

Available in 85% of Yahoo, 86% of ESPN and 76% of CBS leagues

Mike Montgomery (SP – Mariners): Montgomery comes in at #26 on ESPN’s player rater just below Warren.  He has 5 games under his belt since being recalled and has given up more than 2 earned runs in just one game.  Montgomery has also lasted at least 6 innings in each of his starts.  For the season, Montgomery holds a 2.04 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and a .208 BAA; so far everything looks good. 

On the flip side, Montgomery has an xFIP of 4.17 (realistic) and a .234 BABIP so there is probably some luck involved here.  The strikeouts only showed up in his last outing which raised his K/9 to 5.6 which is a far cry from the 7.0+ he averaged in the minors.  Overall his minor league numbers are uninspiring and nothing about him up until his promotion screams “roster me”.  Still, he is pitching well now so I have to throw his name out there; this is a lightning in a bottle pick if there ever was one.  His next start is Tuesday at San Diego followed by games at Oakland and home versus the Angels.  The test comes after that with games at New York and home against Toronto and Arizona.  Short-term I like him, but long-term I would not get my hopes up.  I would pick him up for his next 3 starts; by that time we may have a better picture of where we are dealing with here. 

Available in 89% of Yahoo, 86% of ESPN and 63% of CBS leagues

Yahoo Special

Logan Forsythe was recommended here in the past, but as a universal addition.  Apparently those that play on Yahoo didn’t get the memo because Forsythe is still available in 67% of leagues. Let me break out my box of Crayola Crayons and explain this for you.  Forsythe is a top 12 options for 2B; whether you break it down by season, past 30 days, past 14 days, what have you.  You want an individual breakdown for second basemen?  His HR total – top 10.  His RBI total – top 10.  Batting average – top 10.  Stolen bases – top 12.  Runs – Oh NO, he’s not a top 10 so I can see why you don’t want him on your team *insert sarcasm*.  I would love to know what some of you on Yahoo are using at second base that a player like Forsythe is still available.  I feel an *expletive deleted* rant coming on so I’ll just wrap this up by saying that if Forsythe is available, he is worthy of At Least a bench spot.

Going Deep
Available in over 95% of Yahoo, ESPN and CBS leagues

Joe Blanton (SP – Royals): Blanton hasn’t had much of any fantasy relevance since…. since…., ummm -oh there it is, his rookie season in 2005.  Ten years later (one on hiatus) and Blanton is back and better than ever, at least according to the numbers.  His K/9 so far is 8.31; Blanton has never posted a number this high.  Then again, when is the last time we saw a 91 MPH fastball out of Blanton; close to 2 MPH faster that what he was throwing from 2008 onward.  He’s limiting walks (1.04 BB/9), stranding runners (84.9% LOB), inducing grounders (50%) and holding batters to a .219 BAA.  OK, enough of the glowing reviews; I realize it’s a small sample size but I like what I see so far. Whether it’s luck (2.95 xFIP – 2.74 SIERA), the additional speed, a changed pitch selection, something has lit a fire under Blanton.  I don’t know if this will last, but I do know I have him rostered in 2 leagues and have a claim in on him for a third.  I love a good comeback story. 

Josh Phegley (C – A’s):  Stephen Vogt is the man in Oakland, but the A’s have been playing him at 1B and DH on some days to keep him fresh which opens the door for Phegley.  Over the past 2 weeks (27 at bats) Phegley has hit 4 home runs with 8 RBIs and 7 runs scored while batting .296.  The power is real; Phegley has 67 minor league home runs, 46 of those in AAA over 1,123 at bats.  That was also in the International league which has a tendency to favor pitchers.  As long as Phegley is swinging a hot bat, the A’s will find a way to squeeze him in.  Now one catcher leagues may want to leave this one alone (with the exception of Vogt owners), but in two catcher leagues the production you can get here is better than many other catchers will deliver with full-time at bats.

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 – Melky Cabrera. 

I would like to think this one is self explanatory, but considering he is owned in 41% of Yahoo, 44% of ESPN and 63% of CBS leagues, it appears some of you need convincing.  I first looked at Cabrera’s batted ball profile, but everything here seems to be in line with his career average and previous seasons.  Next I looked at plate discipline.  The swing rate, particularly inside the zone, has been on a steady decline the past few years but is only a few percentage points below last season.  While he is swinging at fewer pitches inside the zone, the contact rate inside the zone is slightly up; the overall contact rate though has not changed from last season. 

So if there has been no real change in the underlying metrics, there is a chance he could bounce back, right?  It’s possible, but there is one more issue we have not addressed; Cabrera is having major issues this season hitting lefties.  He has a career average of .271 against lefties, but this season he is hitting a paltry .164.  In addition to that, Cabrera has averaged a GB% in the mid 40’s the past few seasons against lefties,  but this year it is just over 61%.  On top of that, his hard contact is down 9% so there is less on those ground balls so they are not getting through compared to past years.  Even if Cabrera does correct his problem against lefties and picks up the overall batting average, there is zero power here.  His average fly ball distance this season is 257.59 feet after averaging between 266 and 269 the past 3 seasons.

Odds are you’re looking at another 2013 season (with a lower batting average), and his current numbers extrapolated line up nicely.

  G AB R HR RBI BB K AVG  ISO
2013 88 344 39 3 30 23 47 .279 0.81
2015 71 282 29 24 17  35 .248 0.43

Those are backup shortstop numbers.  If this were the beginning of May I can see holding out hope and if it were the beginning of June you might have a case.  We are 3 days short of July – the half way point; hope only goes so far.  Drop Cabrera for… well, just about anything at this point.

Previous Waiver Wire Recommendations
I like to hold myself accountable for past recommendations so I will monitor
my hits and misses from the previous weeks and adjust the players accordingly.

Graduated

This is the last week Maikel Franco, Kevin Pillar, Justin Turner, Carson Smith and Brock Holt 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

  • Joey Butler, Mitch Moreland, Matt Duffy, Luis Valbuena, Jung Ho Kang, Ryan Howard, Adam LaRoche, Tom Koehler, Brandon Maurer, Vidal Nuno and Kendall Graveman are all still solid additions if they are available.
  • Clint Robinson, David Murphy, Gerardo Parra, Yunel Escobar, Rougned Odor, J.J. Hardy, Nick Ahmed, Mark Canha, Wilmer Flores, Jace Peterson and Carter Capps are good for larger and deeper leagues and could have use in 12 team leagues as well.
  • Jonathan Singleton, Peter O’Brien and Adam Duvall are minor league players to monitor and consider stashing.

Hold – Do not add them, but do not drop them yet unless necessary

  • Andre Ethier, Juan Uribe and Juan Lagares have been moved down to hold since they have gone cold and should be on your bench (for now).
  • Delino Deshields and Jake Marisnick are still on the DL and could make a nice stash, but neither is an immediate add. Deshields begins his minor league rehab today.
  • Brandon Barnes has heated up enough to move from drop to hold, but not enough to warrant adding to new teams.  Ben Paulsen remains a hold for the same reason, but could become an add again with another good week.
  • Jake Lamb has only 7 hits in the past 2 weeks, but at least he’s getting playing time so he could turn things around. 
  • Chad Bettis has been up and down and odds are it will be like that all season; do what you will with him.  The same goes for Kyle Gibson who is still getting K’s, but the earned runs are starting to pile up while the innings pitched go down.

Drop ’em

  • Just like the graduates above, this is the last time Todd Cunningham, Odubel Herrera and Mike Zunino will appear here. If you have not dropped these players, now’s the time to do so.
  • Preston Tucker has shown a little life, but is still a drop if there are better options available on waivers.
  • Ivan De Jesus, Cory Spangenberg and Brandon Guyer are not hitting well enough or receiving enough at bats to warrant a roster spot.
  • Jarrett Parker was sent back to AAA. 
  • Will Middlebrooks has the occasional good game, but he is more an injury replacement off the wire than a bench player.
  • Vincent Velasquez has the stuff to be in the majors, but lacks the stamina to get past or even to 5 innings and walks too many batters.
  • Anthony Gose is hitting .169 with only 14 hits in the last 30 days.  Ignore his bottom overall line; you can find better. 
  • Caleb Joseph is nothing more than a handcuff for Matt Wieters at this point.

 

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By Jim Finch

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.