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August 29, 2013

Free Agent Watch

Week 22

by Mike Gianella and Craig Goldstein

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12-TEAM MIXED

Zack Cozart, SS, Cincinnati Reds
Cozart is a subpar offensive option in real life but a solid option in fantasy leagues. Among shortstops, he is ninth in HR, eighth in RBI, and fifth in runs. Dusty Baker finally gave up on the idea of batting Cozart and his lousy .276 on-base percentage second, so Cozart takes a bit of a hit, but if you’re not particularly concerned about batting average, Cozart is a better play down the stretch than a number of mixed-league shortstops/middle infielders currently on active rosters. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: A pauper’s J.J. Hardy

Joe Kelly, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
Kelly is having a terrific run for the Cardinals, but is still a match-up play at best in mixed leagues. Since being inserted into the rotation on July 6, Kelly is 6-0 with a 2.24 ERA. However, there is no particular indicator over that time that speaks to the ability to sustain this success. As a starter, Kelly’s strikeout percentage is down, his BABIP is down, and his strand rate is extraordinarily high. Kelly should stick in the rotation, but I don’t like him as a mixed play going forward. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Wily Peralta

AL ONLY

Ryan Goins, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
At this point, it might seem that avoiding anyone or anything to do with the Blue Jays would be for the best. If one did that though, they might miss out on the flavor of the week: Ryan Goins. Who, one might ask? Fair question. Goins is making his MLB debut at 25 years old and currently sports an unsustainable .421/.421/.474 slash line in 19 plate appearances over the last five games. The most important part of the last sentence, in my humble opinion, is that he’s accrued 19 plate appearances in the last five games. He is being used as an everyday player for the hapless (not Happ-less) Jays, at a position with the depth of a Family Circus comic strip. No, he’s nowhere near as good as his slash line, but he has shown the ability to post league-average offense in the minor leagues. And while that’s not exactly enticing, it is more than a little bit useful. Even if he is just a flash in the pan (likely), it’s worth seeing if that flash can last the next five weeks. —Craig Goldstein

Comparable Player: Lyle Overbay

Travis Blackley, SP, Texas Rangers
It’s hard to believe that it has been nine years since Blackley—then a promising 22-year-old phenom—was called up by the Mariners for six starts in 2004. His career has taken quite a few twists and turns since then, but Blackley was mostly off of the fantasy radar until a quasi-impressive stint with the Athletics last year brought him back into the spotlight. The Astros primarily used Blackley as a lefty specialist, but injuries in the Rangers rotation have made Blackley into a starter. If he’s going to have any fantasy value, it’s in this role, though Blackley is a match-up play who will probably be pushed into the pen or designated for assignment yet again once everyone is healthy. Blackley has an appealing matchup against the Twins on Sunday; after that his role is uncertain. For desperate owners only. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Joe Saunders

NL ONLY

Reymond Fuentes, CF, San Diego Padres
Let me start by saying that Ben Carsley is a sharp kid. He knows what he’s talking about, and he laid out a good case against picking up Fuentes yesterday. That said, he included a caveat about NL-Only leagues, and that’s exactly why Fuentes belongs in this section. Sure, his breakout season has been BABIP-fueled, but from 2009-2011 his BABIP sat between .334-.347, so his .381 at Double-A isn’t quite as obscene as it may appear. Add in his penchant for stealing bases (despite the 11 caught stealing, his season rate is a solid 76 percent) and Fuentes is an intriguing pickup in leagues where Tony Campana and his five steals in 34 at-bats are piquing interest. Fuentes has shown a nice eye this year, including a .396 OBP at Double-A and a 1-to-1 K:BB ratio at Triple-A. I’m not nearly as pessimistic as others on Fuentes’ resurgence. He won’t be what his 2013 MiLB numbers imply, but he doesn’t have to be to hold value in NL-only leagues. —Craig Goldstein

Comparable Player: Alejandro de Aza

Tanner Roark, SP (?), Washington Nationals
Nothing more than a middle reliever up until this point, Roark has amazingly picked up four vulture wins in his short stint for the Nationals. Even so, he wouldn’t warrant inclusion in this section except for the fact that the Nats are considering sticking him in the rotation the rest of the way. Roark’s stuff might not play in the rotation long term, but down the stretch he faces a schedule where he could potentially see the Mets and Marlins twice each. Roark could be one of those pitchers who put together a mini-run at the end of 2013. Watch this situation closely. —Mike Gianella

Comparable Player: Craig Stammen

DEEP MIXED

Gerardo Parra, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Already playing most every day, Parra’s leash got a little longer this week when Jason Kubel was designated for assignment. He might not be the most exciting option, but we’re in August, and in the words of Bun B, “I use harsh words ‘cause these are hard times/ and trill-ass people, nowadays they're such a hard find.” Now, I don’t know if Parra really qualifies as “trill”—I’ll leave that to the experts—but he did post the first five-RBI game of his career on Tuesday night, batting out of the six-hole in the lineup. He’s hitting .351 out of the sixth spot, so there’s a good chance the D’backs keep him there. If so, he could see a nice boost in RBI the rest of the way. —Craig Goldstein

Comparable Player: Andre Ethier

Tommy Milone’s Rotation Spot, SP, Oakland Athletics
Note: Milone was optioned to Triple-A on Wednesday, but with his next start scheduled for September 1, there’s a chance he will be back in time to make it. If he doesn’t and the A’s keep a five-man rotation, the vast majority of the logic below will still prevail.

Yes, Milone is mostly a product of his environment, taking advantage of the generous dimensions and foul ball territory that the O.co Coliseum provides. But fresh off a skipped start, followed by a five inning complete game on Tuesday night, Milone will make the rest of his starts either at the Coliseum or against the Twins or Mariners. In one fortuitous start, he’ll face the Twins at home. Seriously though, Milone sports a 3.55 ERA when pitching at home, and the best offense he’ll face the rest of the season is Tampa Bay in his next start. After Tampa he goes; vs. HOU, @ MIN, vs. LAA, vs. MIN, @ SEA. Murderer’s Row they are not. This is all assuming he’ll throw every fifth day, which isn’t a given, but when dealing with deep leagues we can’t always afford to be picky. —Craig Goldstein

Comparable Player: Travis Wood

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here
Craig Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Craig's other articles. You can contact Craig by clicking here

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