May 23, 2013
Free Agent Watch
American League, Week Eight
Valencia has only been a productive major leaguer for half-a-season (in 2010), is now 28 years old, and doesn’t have a clear path to playing time. Sometimes, though, you just gotta take the chance on the guy who slugged his way to 11 home runs and 35 RBI in Triple-A regardless of age and situation. Right now Valencia, looks like he’s starting solely against lefties, limiting him to AL-only leagues. Perhaps he can convert his minor-league power into a few bombs in the big leagues and prove his AL-only worthiness.
Regrettably, I left out Gomes from last week’s FA Watch Piece, since the Brazilian backup catcher went on to have a three-homer week. Gomes has been potent when in the lineup, but has been held back by limited playing time with just 58 plate appearances under his belt. While he may see his role slightly expanded, he won’t play in enough games to be an asset in single-catcher leagues as long as Carlos Santana is in town and healthy. Still, in two-catcher leagues, it could be worth it to kick the tires on Gomes. With Jason Giambi acting as mostly dead weight in the Tribe’s DH slot, Gomes could start to see a lot more action if he steals that role.
Williams tossed an eight-inning gem against the Mariners Tuesday night, allowing six hits and no runs with six strikeouts. He’s also been impressive all season as both a long reliever and starter, posting the solid numbers you see above. Joe Blanton has two more chances to hold his rotation spot before Jered Weaver returns, but unless Blanton dazzles, I don’t see how Williams can get the boot from the rotation. Williams gets a nice matchup versus the Royals this weekend, and I’d feel comfortable rolling the 31-year-old innings-eater out there while he’s hot in all formats.
Yamaico Navarro, 3B/SS. Baltimore Orioles
In four of the last six games, Navarro has manned second base for the Orioles. With (surprise) Brian Roberts sidelined by an injury and Alexi Casilla squirting out hits like a clogged cheese shaker, Navarro has a good chance to become the O’s regular starter at second. The 25-year-old former Red Sox prospect has never put up eye-popping numbers in the minors, but he was doing a little bit of everything in Triple-A this year with the numbers you see above. He also walked at an excellent 13 percent clip, adding to his value in OBP leagues. There are always teams thin at middle infield in 14-plus-team mixers and Navarro is now another option to consider.
Knees to the head can cause concussions, as Trevor Plouffe learned this weekend, and now he’s recovering on the seven-day concussion DL. The injury opens up a week of playing time for Escobar at third base. Despite some production this year, there aren’t fantasy-friendly skills to endorse here, besides a good contact rate. Come on in, but only if you’re shopping purely for at-bats.
Adams has taken over the hot corner from Chris Nelson and is now the Yankees’ third-base flavor of the week. He’s not an exciting prospect, but has the ability to collect a few hits while receiving playing time. The clock is ticking, however, with Kevin Youkilis recuperating from his back injury. Youk’s timetable isn’t certain, but he appears likely to return by next weekend. Feel free to use Adams in deep mixers and AL-only leagues until that day comes, though.
Bold Pick of the Week: Brandon Snyder is the Red Sox third baseman come the end of May. Currently, the post-hype sleeper is producing in Triple-A, batting .286 with seven homers and a palatable 24 percent strikeout rate. Current Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks has seen his value plummet ever since that three-homer game from the first week of the season. At that point, everyone regretted not drafting him. Not anymore, as the sophomore is slashing just .208/.243/.423 despite a healthy eight home runs and decent run and RBI totals. Suffice it to say, another week of barren production and Middlebrooks could find himself Rutledge’d.
Snyder isn’t a third baseman by trade, but he’s started eight games there so far this year for Pawtucket. The Red Sox don’t have to turn to Snyder and could instead opt to move Stephen Drew to third and make Jose Iglesias’ day by promoting him. But in AL-only leagues, I’d look more closely at Snyder with each Middlebrooks out makes.