While compiling my list of potential free agents to recommend this week, I noticed the names all had something in common. Casey, Chris, Charlie, Cody….looks like we have a theme going here, so I looked through the rest of the available players to see how many more C’s I could add that were worthy of being rostered. There seems to be a trend with many of the players I’ve looked at; people in CBS seem to be ahead of the curve when it comes to free agents. Either that or there are a lot of deep leagues as players are owned at a higher percentage on their site. I’ll try to dig deeper in the future to find some of those little owned players on CBS, but for now I bring you, the C list (one step above the D list). Most are short term adds, but every point counts.
Casey McGehee (Marlins): In 2009 McGehee looked poised for a breakout and it 2010 he fulfilled that promise. Unfortunately that success was short-lived as he spent the next few years flailing away trying to live up to the hype. He spent last year in Japan rediscovering himself, and it appears he has rediscovered his swing. Take a look a what he did in 2010 compared to what his did in Japan last year and what he’s done in 2014 (Through Wednesday).
McGehee appears to have not only found what he was doing wrong, but has improved on his earlier success. The higher strikeout rate might be trouble down the road, but the improved walk rate helps balance things out. Bagger Vance must be working in Japan because MeGehee has definitely found his swing. Can he continue to keep this up? Your guess is as good as mine but honestly who cares. The important things is that he’s hitting now and batting in a prime lineup position. Granted it’s for the Marlins, but even good players on bad teams can be useful. With Zimmerman battling shoulder issues again, Beltre possibly headed to the disabled list to join Middlebrooks & Machado and players like Donaldson, Seager & Sandoval slumping out of the gate, McGehee should be owned in almost all leagues. What are you waiting for?
Available in 37% of CBS, 73% of Yahoo & ESPN and 48% of Fantrax leagues
Chris Colabello (Twins): After 7 years of playing in the independent year, Colabello received a shot with the Twins minor league club. He did very well in AA and tore through AAA, but he seemed overmatched last year during his brief stay in the majors. Fast forward to spring training and Colabello is batting .349 and playing his way into a full-time job with the big club. Batting .313 through Wednesday and batting cleanup for the Twins, Colabello has stated his case to be owned. He’s a wild card as far as what he’s capable of over the course of the season, but just like McGehee, the guy is hot and hitting now. Colabello qualifies for first base and outfield so he adds some flexibility to your roster, and if you play with a CI slot he’s a must own. It may not last, but ride the wave while you can.
Available in 58% of CBS, 71% of Yahoo, 73% of ESPN and 47% of Fantrax leagues
Charlie Blackmon (Rockies): Hopefully when I recommended Dickerson a few weeks ago you ignored my advice and listened to Pianowski from Yahoo. Both men have a starting job, but Dickerson’s is in AAA (for now). An opportunity and place to play has been the only thing holding Blackmon back to this point, and after a lackluster spring it appeared he would be heading back to AAA. He must have been storing all that energy up; through Wednesday Blackmon was hitting an unrealistic .471 and batting leadoff for the Rockies. He showed a patient eye in the minors, has double-digit power and enough speed to steal 20+ bases a year. The average will come down eventually, but he was a .300 hitter in the minors and showed he could be on a regular basis during his last two call ups. Plus, playing half his games in Coors field doesn’t hurt. I was fortunate enough to grab him in one league, and am kicking myself for not acting faster in the others. Don’t make my mistake if he’s still out there.
Available in 38% of CBS, 53% of Yahoo, 33% of ESNP and 30% of Fantrax leagues
Colby Lewis (Rangers): Like McGehee, it took a trip to the orient to rediscover himself. Lewis isn’t going to help you in ERA & WHIP, but he won’t hurt you either. If you’re looking for a boost in wins and strikeouts, look no further. From 2010 to 2012 he produced a K/9 just over 8.1 with double-digit wins. The 2012 season was cut short due to elbow surgery and his return was delayed in 2013 as a result of hip surgery. Lewis is healthy now, but is also 34 years old so there’s a risk involved. The Rangers pushed back his first start against Houston, putting him in line for 2 starts next week at home versus Seattle and the White Sox. There were mixed reviews from his rehab starts, but if the strikeouts are there the wins will follow. He could be worthy of a roster spot to fill out the back end of your rotation, and he’s there for almost everyone. Lewis is an older pitcher, but he’s not OLD.
Available in 91% of CBS, 99% of Yahoo & ESPN and 88% of Fantrax leagues
Charlie Morton (Pirates): If it seems like we’ve been waiting forever for Morton to put it all together, well, we have. He’s teased us with his minor league success but up until last year has fizzled in the majors. Last year was different thanks to that magical surgery named Tommy John. Morton seemed to turn back the clock at times last year and made us believe he can still be that guy we thought he could. His 6.59 K/9 wasn’t anything special, but it was his highest total since 2010 and close to his minor league average. He was an extreme groundball pitcher in the past, but last years 63% groundball rate was 5% higher than any of his previous years. There was also some zip on his fastball as that was back to the same levels it was in 2010 at 93.4 MPH. Morton threw a 6 inning gem his first game out against the Cubs but was hammered by those same Cubs on the road in his second game. It makes some sense as his road ERA last year was almost a full point higher than it was at home. With all the pitchers going down early this year, finding a stable piece to fill in our roster with is getting harder. This one is a gamble, but Morton should help you more often than not. At the very least, he’s a good pitcher for home games and when the matchup is right.
Available in 41% of CBS, 82% of Yahoo, 97% of ESPN and 53% of Fantrax leagues
Cody Allen (Indians): Raise your hand if you think John Axford will still be the closer for the Indians in July. OK, you four in the back row, you can leave now. For the rest of you, now is the time to lock up his replacement. Allen will not get you saves now, but what he can contribute to are your ratios, strikeouts and holds if your league counts them. The Indians turned him from a starter to a relief pitcher and fast tracked him through the minors. He showed big improvements last year over his debut performance in 2012, and he’s still improving. I can see him being one of the top 10 closers in the league by the end of 2015 if given the chance, and he should get that chance sometime this season. If you have an extra roster spot and you have weak or no closers, here’s a good place to put your money.
Available in 72% of CBS, 76% of Yahoo and 52% of ESPN & Fantrax leagues
Chris Withrow (Dodgers): His minor league numbers are nothing special so I can see people dismissing his hot start. The former starter turned relief pitcher has struggled with control in the past, but since moving to the pen he seems to be correcting that problem. The strikeouts are for real as he averaged close to 9 per inning as a starter but as a relief pitcher that number is over 11. He has 2 holds over the first two weeks and this is where his value is. He’s not going to get a shot at the closers role, but as a middle relief pitcher he can get you strikeouts, holds and help with your ratios. There is talent in this former first round pick, but there might be some growing pains. Ride him while he’s hot, but if he start to struggle, abandon ship and move on to the next guy.
Available in 96% of CBS & Yahoo, 99% of ESPN and 86% of Fantrax leagues
Looking back at some C’s recommended over the past few weeks
Chris Owings is still available in 45% of CBS, 70% of Yahoo, 98% of ESPN and 40% of Fantrax leagues. There are a number of shortstops off to a slow start that Owings should be starting over. If your shortstop is slumping, substituting Owings might be a wise move for now.
Jarred Cosart is available in 68% of CBS, 92% of Yahoo and 56% of Fantrax leagues. His next start is at Texas, but after that he’s got games against @Oak, @Sea & Wash. He’s a matchup pitcher for now, but those are 3 good matchups for him.
A few other players to look at whose name don’t begin with C:
Trevor Plouffe (Twins): His 2013 was nothing like his 2012. We thought we’d be counting the days until Miguel Sano took over the hot corner, but Sano went down and Plouffe stole his magic bats. He’s batting .333 with 7 runs and RBIs; the power hasn’t shown itself yet, but the average makes him a great play over all the players mentioned when I talked about McGehee. Just like McGehee, ride the hot hand for now and add Plouffe if you have an extra roster spot to play with.
Available in 46% of CBS, 84% of Yahoo and 38% of Fantrax leagues
Mark Reynolds (Brewers): I have to admit, I threw up in my mouth a little when I wrote his name, but this is April and you should take advantage of every point you can get. Reynolds was batting .286 through Wednesday with 2 home runs. He started off hot last year and owners who took the risk reaped the rewards. Just don’t get too attached and dump him when things start looking bad (which can happen at any time).
Available in 81% of CBS, 96% of Yahoo and 70% of Fantrax leagues
Jason Kubel (Twins): There are a lot of Twins on this list, but this one could enjoy an extended stay on your roster. I recommended him before the season started and said to ignore his spring training stats, and now you see why. Kubel is good for at least 20 home runs and is only a year removed from 30. He has power and can drive in runs, those are his main two assets. Kubel isn’t known to hit for a high average, but that’s exactly what he’s doing now batting .448. If you need a fourth outfielder or have an injury, and you lost out on the Charlie Blackmon sweepstakes, take this consolation prize for now.
Available in 84% of CBS, 93% of Yahoo and 70% of Fantrax leagues