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August 27, 2012

Value Picks

Second, Short, and Catcher for 8/27/12

by Josh Shepardson

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Departures
A trade from the Diamondbacks to the A's pushes Stephen Drew (Yahoo! 18%, ESPN 14%, CBS 31%) to the “Departures” section.  The trade means that Drew will be moving from a home ballpark that plays slightly in the favor of left-handed hitters to one of the worst in baseball for them.  He also moves from an offense that is 11th in runs scored in Major League Baseball to the team ranked 25th.  He is still an option as a middle infielder in large mixed leagues, but he shouldn't be starting at shortstop in anything other than AL-only leagues. 

Like his batting average, Ruben Tejada's (Yahoo! 16%, ESPN 21%, CBS 33%) spot in the lineup has dropped recently.  On August 9, his average sat at .323.  Today, it rests just below .300.  That slide is bad news for a player who is completely reliant on hitting for average to have fantasy relevance.  As I alluded to above, he was also moved down to sixth in the Mets order for Sunday's game.  He still makes frequent contact and has a line drive rate in the upper-20 percent area, so he should hit for more average than he has been of late, but he's a fringy enough option to cut bait with and turn elsewhere for middle infield help, even in large mixed leagues. 

Hanging On
The Reds continue to trot out a leadoff hitter with a sub-.300 OBP, and as long as that is the case, Zack Cozart (Yahoo! 25%, ESPN 32%, CBS 61%) remains a middle infield option in fantasy.  His past week started off well enough and included a game-winning solo home run against Phillies' closer Jonathan Papelbon, but he fizzled at the end of the week, going just 2-for-19 from Thursday through the weekend.  Yes, that's a miniscule sample size, but if this poor stretch extends on a bit longer, it could provide manager Dusty Baker a reason to turn to someone else as the club's leadoff hitter.  Baker has been patient with Cozart, riding the hot and cold streaks, so don't jump ship yet, but monitor how he plays over the next few days and have a fallback plan in place at middle infield if he continues to scuffle along. 

Sticking Around
Owners that exercised patience with Geovany Soto (Yahoo! 26%, ESPN 12%, CBS 26%) were finally rewarded over the last seven days.  In his last six games Soto went 6-for-21 with five runs, one home run, and six RBI.  News that Mike Napoli isn't likely to be activated from the disabled list prior to rosters expanding on September 1 eliminates a potential threat to Soto's playing time for the time being.  Soto is moving his way up the second catcher ranks in two-catcher leagues.

He didn't hit a home run this past week, but Chris Iannetta (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 1%, CBS 16%) did help fantasy owners by going 9-for-21 at the dish since last Sunday.  Don't expect him to continue to hit for average, and don't expect him to go homer-less much longer.

Even with a healthy lineup, Jeff Keppinger (Yahoo! 8%, ESPN 20%, CBS 19%) is getting regular playing time and making the most of it.  He hit his sixth dinger of the year last Monday and recorded a couple of hits in Wednesday's and Thursday’s games.  Kepp doesn't seem to be slowing down, so continue to enjoy his stellar play.

It wasn't a banner week for Wilin Rosario (Yahoo! 30%, ESPN 17%, CBS 63%), but he did hit his 20th home run of the year on Wednesday and remains a viable starting catcher in single-catcher mixed leagues. 

He failed to record a hit in his first 12 at-bats after being activated from the disabled list, but Yasmani Grandal (Yahoo! 8%, ESPN 1%, CBS 33%) got a hit in his 13th at-bat and has one in each of the last three games.  He's healthy, receiving regular playing time, and is an above average hitter for the catching position.  Grandal isn't going to continue to post a HR/FB rate of roughly 18 percent, but he can still rake and his improving walk rate falls in line with his minor league track record.  The Padres' lineup is no great shakes, but hitting behind Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin should provide Grandal some ducks on the pond to drive in.  Fantasy owners can comfortably deploy Grandal as a second catcher in two-catcher mixed leagues and as a starting catcher in NL-only leagues. 

There is only one reasonable explanation for John Jaso (Yahoo! 13%, ESPN 6%, CBS 32%) having a down week; I jinxed him.  After weeks of ignoring his outstanding play, I highlighted him last week, and he goes 3-for-16 with just two runs and two RBI in the last seven days.  In all seriousness, Jaso is fine.  He was bound to cool down, but that doesn't mean it's time to ditch him.  His line drive rate is excellent, he's walking a bunch, and he doesn't strike out much, which should help him continue to hit for a high average.  Temper power expectations, though; he won't be able to maintain his current home run pace with a fly ball rate below 30 percent.    

Arrivals
News of David Ortiz possibly being shutdown for the season has been, understandably, overshadowed by the blockbuster trade orchestrated between the Red Sox and Dodgers.  If Ortiz's Achilles injury shelves him for the remainder of the season, Ryan Lavarnway (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 10%) would be in a position to continue to play every day.  Lavarnway has struggled at the plate this year, hitting .180/.241/.220 in 54 plate appearances for the Red Sox.  He is a .286/.376/.506 hitter in his five-year minor league career, though, and Kevin Goldstein referred to him as a “well-above-average contributor for the position (catcher),” in his The Call-Up article back in early August.  Lavarnway possesses enough upside to gamble on as a second catcher in two-catcher mixed leagues.

Owners in search of some speed should turn to Everth Cabrera (Yahoo! 6%, ESPN 6%, CBS 16%) in leagues that he is available.  Cabrera swiped three bags last week, bringing his season total to 24, and he has been caught stealing only once.  He strikes out quite often (26 percent) for a slap singles hitter, and because of that, he can't be counted on for a helpful batting average.  That said, his above-average walk rate has helped him post an on-base percentage slightly better than league average, which is all he needs to wreak havoc on the base paths.  He is a one trick pony but one that is quite good at what he does.

AL-only VP
He isn't filling up the box scores, but Johnny Giavotella (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 5%) isn't face planting since being recalled from the minors either.  He has played in seven games for the Royals since his August promotion and has recorded a hit in five of those games.  None of those games were multi-hit efforts, though, and none of the hits went for extra bases.  Give him another week in AL-only leagues to adjust to playing in the bigs again. 

NL-only VP
Welington Castillo (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 4%) seems to have put his sore foot problems in the rear view mirror, having started four of six games last week.  He hit his fourth home run of the season on Friday and remains a playable catching option with upside in NL-only leagues.

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Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Fantasy ... (08/27)

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