Another week of baseball and another week of injuries. The Cards lost Joe Kelly to a hamstring injury, the Angels lost Kole Calhoun (right as he was heating up) with a ligament injury to his ankle, the Rangers finally placed Adrian Beltre on the DL for his quad strain, Ryan Zimmerman broke his thumb and Matt Moore joins the Tommy John Club. Ughh, the life of a fantasy baseball manager. Add on the fact that Angel Pagan, Chase Headley, Hanley Ramirez, Curtis Granderson and several other players are banged up with (allegedly minor) bumps and bruises, it’s enough to make you scream. OK, screaming does feel good, but once you’re done with the temper tantrum it’s off to the waiver wire. Fortunately it’s still early in the season so you can still find some worthy additions (unless you play in a really deep or 20 team league). Who’s out there?
Well George Springer should be gone, he was the obvious pickup earlier this week. Like I stated earlier in the season, this is why you use one or two of your bench spots for guys like this. You never know when they will get called up, and when they do it’s the guy who’s on-line at the time that gets them. Gregory Polanco is off to a hot start in AAA as are Joc Pederson & Kris Bryant. If you’re one of those lucky owners who has been able to avoid the injury bug and have an empty roster spot, I’d make room for one of them as a preemptive strike. As for the rest of you:
SP Robbie Erlin (Padres): With Josh Johnson set to see Dr. James Andrews (never a good thing), Erlin gets an extended look. His minor league numbers were pretty good and even his time in AAA wasn’t bad considering it was the PCL. Erlin didn’t embarrass himself during his brief call up last season, and this year he’s pitched well in his 2 starts with 14 K’s in 11.1 innings. With a comphy home park and little pressure, Erlin looks like a smart short-term add with the potential to be a permanent fixture at the back of your rotation.
Available in 57% of CBS (up from 14% last week), 92% of Yahoo and 57% of Fantrax leagues
SP Josh Collmenter (Diamondbacks): Collmenter enjoyed success as a starter in 2011 and 2012 and has made improvements while working out of the pen. He gets another shot at the starting rotation thanks to the demotion of Randall Delgado and would like your attention. Collmenter can have problems with walks at times, can give up a few more home runs than we’d like and isn’t a huge source of strikeouts. He does get enough K’s to be relevant, will give you an acceptable WHIP and an ERA in the mid 3’s. The Diamondbacks can score runs, they just haven’t had much luck with the guys on the mound giving them a chance to win. You’ll get that chance here. I see him as being more than a matchup pitcher, but he’s not someone to start every time he takes the mound.
Available in 89% of CBS, 98% of Yahoo and 82% of Fantrax leagues
2B Derek Dietrich (Marlins): He’s not the full-time starter, but with the numbers Dietrich is putting up it’s only a matter of time. He only had .277 average in the minors, but that was consistent and not up and down from year to year and level to level. He has shown enough power in the minors and during his 3 years at Georgia Tech to hit 20 home runs annually which is great for a second baseman. There were some struggles with strikeouts early in the minors but he has made improvements in this department. Runs and RBIs may be hard to come with this team, but if he continues to produce he could move up from the seven spot to a more productive place in the lineup. Dietrich currently ranks in the top 10 for second baseman and is producing better than players like Jose Altuve, Daniel Murphy, Jed Lowire and several other starters who are owned in over 75% of leagues. Imagine what he might be capable of with full-time at bats. And, if you use a MI slot, Dietrich could be an answer for you.
Available in 90% of CBS, 98% of Yahoo and 77% of Fantrax leagues
OF David Murphy (Indians): Kole Calhoun left a big hole in some lineups as many of us had him pegged as a sleeper. Murphy could be a short-term answer. Currently he’s batting at the bottom of the lineup which limits his at bats, but Murphy has 2 home runs and 11 RBIs (7th most among outfielders). The batting average doesn’t stand out, but he’s batting over .300 against right handers. If you keep him on the bench against lefties (and on the road for now), he can make a good platoon player for your outfield paired with one of the players below.
Available in 76% of CBS, 91% of Yahoo and 63% of Fantrax leagues
1B/OF Lucas Duda (Mets): Duda would make a good DH as his defense is something to be desired (putting it mildly). Fortunately most of us don’t count players defensive shortcomings in fantasy. Just like Murphy, his batting average won’t excite you, but he does have 3 home runs through Wednesday and is batting .300 against right handers. He’s not a full-time option for your lineup, but for daily leagues he’s perfect as long as the average stays at a respectable level. Available in 80% of CBS, 96% of Yahoo and 78% of Fantrax leagues OF Matt Joyce (Rays): Sticking with the right-handed specialist theme, Joyce has made a career of this. He’s a .190 hitter against lefties; he can’t hit them, he knows it and so do the Rays. His average against righties is only .263 which isn’t overly impressive, but you’re not picking up Joyce for his average. In 1,500 at bats against righties, he has hit 73 home runs. You don’t usually see that kind of power sitting on the waiver wire, but that’s where you can find Joyce at the beginning of the season most years. He already has 2 this year in 30 at bats against righties and is hitting .400 against them (as of Wednesday). A combination of Joyce and Duda or Murphy would make a nice replacement for Calhoun or on any team needing some power in the outfield. And if they are both going against righties, you can play them both or play the matchup.
Available in 69% of CBS, 87% of Yahoo and 50% of Fantrax leagues
C Tyler Flowers (White Sox): They say April showers bring May flowers; well we’ve had a lot of rain this April and Flowers is in full bloom. Currently he is ranked in the top 10 for catchers, something we have been waiting for since 2009. On a team that is first in scoring runs, hitting at the bottom of the lineup isn’t a bad thing here. He’s producing better than Jonathan Lucroy, Jason Castro, Wilin Rosario, Brain McCann & Salvador Perez. Those are some universally owned names he’s in the company of and while I wouldn’t drop any of them, I might consider replacing them with Flowers in my lineup. I’m fortunate enough to own Yan Gomez in my leagues otherwise I’d put my money where my mouth is on this one. Is this the year Flowers fulfills the promise of being that big league catcher we’ve been waiting for or is it just a hot start. Nobody says you have to marry him, just take him on few dates and see how things work out. If he continues then good for you; if he falters, at least he bought you flowers first.
Available in 74% of CBS, 87% of Yahoo and 70% of Fantrax leagues
A look at a few more players that aren’t on waivers, but in my opinion they should be (or at least on someone else’s team)
Mark Teixeira is owned in 75% of CBS, 77% of Fantrax and 50% of Yahoo leagues. Tex is coming off a wrist injury from last season and quickly hit the DL this year with a hamstring injury. He’s a notoriously slow starter so missing the first month of the season isn’t doing him any favors. He hasn’t hit above .247 against righties in the past 4 years as his average continues to sink each year. I would say there is power there, but considering his wrist injury that even he has stated will bother him all season, I’m just not seeing the value. Some of that ownership is based on hope and nostalgia of the player that Tex used to be. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not always the smartest thing. If you’re a Teixeira owner, I’d be shopping him the second he came off the DL. Let somebody else have his few good weeks while suffering through the countless number of weeks he gets you less than replacement level production. And if he gets off to a hot start right off the bat, don’t believe the hype. All that does for you is raise his trade value a few dollars. I want to say drop him, but I know he has value to somebody in your league besides you.
Chase Headley is owned in 84% of CBS, 83% of Fantrax and 61% of Yahoo leagues. My question is, why? He had a monster year in 2012, but as I’ve said many a times, it was nothing more than a career year. Last year he came crashing back down to earth batting .250 with his customary 13 home runs. September was the reason for that average as he hit .305 with 5 home runs, but does one good month out of 6 and one good year out of 6 warrant that kind of ownership? Not in my world it doesn’t, but apparently most of you don’t live here. It’s time to face the reality of what I’ve been trying to get the masses to comprehend for years, Chase Headley is a good baseball player but not a good fantasy player. Don’t let that one good year fool you. Shop him, drop him, but for god sakes get him off of your team. You may curse me when he has that one big productive month, but you’ll thank me in the long run.
Travis d’Arnaud is owned in close to 50% of CBS & Fantrax leagues, and if you’re in an NL only or keeper/dynasty league it makes sense to hold him. If you’re in a redraft league though he should not be on your team. I mentioned Flowers above, but in addition to him you have guys like Mike Zunino and Devin Mesoraco who are hitting now. There are the old stand by guys like Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Russell Martin who are more productive right now than d’Arnaud. Catchers usually spend the first 3-4 years learning their craft and their bats are slow to catch up to the guy we saw in the minors. I know the potential is there, but potential doesn’t pay the bills in yearly leagues. Move on to someone who will give you numbers this year and try again in 2015. He was a nice speculative grab to start the season, but it’s time to look elsewhere.
Ricky Nolasco is owned in 30% of Yahoo and over 40% of CBS & Fantrax leagues. Jason Collette is a Ricky Nolasco guy, but I’m not going to hold that against him. Nolasco has had an ERA below 4.0 twice since he’s come into the league in 2006. Last year was his lowest WHIP since 2008. Looking for wins? Guess what, so are the Twins. Just walk away, drop him for………hell, anyone else not named Ricky Nolasco. His ownership on CBS has dropped 2% since last week, but that’s not fast enough for me. Finally, we’ve dealt with the bad batting average from
Dan Uggla (aka Adam Dunn Jr.) because he could hit 30+ home runs. With that power down to 20, the bad average is too much to stomach. At this point, he’s making Kelly Johnson look real good. Go grab Danny Espinosa and worry about who will play second for your team when Zimmerman comes off the DL.