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April 12, 2011

Fantasy Beat

Tout Wars FAAB Update

by Jason Collette

We are one week into the season and emotions are all over the place. If you were one of the two people in the world who targeted Willie Bloomquist in your draft, you are loving life, as he is stealing bases at a Vince Coleman-like pace. Conversely, if you spent big bucks on Carl Crawford, you are pulling your hair out, as he is well below the Mendoza line and has just two stolen bases on the season. I mentioned in my article last week that I feel trades made in April are not always the wisest moves, but I am all for aggressive behavior on the free agent waiver wire—that typically involves the release of draft day end-game speculations.

There are a variety of free agent budget strategies that players employ in leagues. Some advocate being aggressive out of the gate, as you get more impact from your early season acquisitions than you do your mid-season ones, while those in NL or AL only leagues will hoard their money and wait for that big name cross-over near the trade deadline. I have done it both ways (and found success both ways), though it all depends on what your team needs that particular season. If you had a bad draft in a reset league and have glaring weaknesses, being aggressive as possible early benefits you greatly as you try to salvage your slow start. If you know you had a strong draft, slow-playing the FAAB wire while waiting for the July fun can help bring you down the home stretch.

Throughout this season, I will be doing a FAAB update from Tout Wars, since mixed leagues, AL- and NL-only leagues are all represented in that competition. Keep in mind that Tout Wars has an interesting rule in place, in that all FAAB acquisitions must spend the first week on your roster in active status.

Here are the results of the first week of FAABulous action. Of note, Sam Fuld was already rostered in the AL-only league, and the mixed leaguers were intrigued enough with Getz and Bloomquist in FAAB, but overlooked the red-hot speedster in Fuld.

AL-only:
David Robertson $2 to Ron Shandler: Robertson has the limitation of being the seventh inning guy as long as Rafael Soriano stays healthy and relatively happy. He will always be a solid source of strikeouts from a middle relief spot, but the walks make him a WHIP risk.

Tyler Chatwood $9 to Jason Grey: Chatwood pitched at three levels last season, but has just 74 innings of experience above A-ball as a 22-year-old. He has been plagued by control issues—his best walk rate is just 3.6—and his highest strikeout rate in advanced leagues is 7.7. He is the best pitching prospect the Angels have, but nothing in his skills scream that he is ready. Despite this, he was called up after just one inning of relief in Triple-A (in which he struck out two batters). Grey is well-known for using his scouting acumen to find diamonds in the rough, particularly from teams that work in the Cactus League, but this seems like a very risky play.

Phil Humber $4 to Matthew Berry: Humber is the latest pitcher to face the Rays and look like a Cy Young candidate. The former top ten draft pick is now with his fourth organization, but has fewer than 60 innings of major league experience. He looked good in his first outing of the season, going six innings allowing four hits while striking out four, but Humber needs to face a better team before getting terribly excited about his efforts.

Luke Hughes $7 to Matthew Berry: Berry was desperate to get Dan Johnson out of his active lineup, so he aggressively bid on the guy that is expected to get most of Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s at-bats while he is out with his broken leg. I am the unfortunate owner of Nishioka, and now must find alternative plans as my bid was only $3. The fact that Ron Gardenhire has already utilized Michael Cuddyer at second base means Hughes is not guaranteed all of the playing time.

Jason Berken $1 to Jeff Erickson. Berken is off to a hot start in relief, piling up seven strikeouts in only 4 1/3 innings. He had back-to-back three strikeout performances against Tampa Bay and Detroit, and recently came in for a shutdown inning against the Tigers as well.

Carlos Villanueva $0 to Steve Moyer: Like Berken, Villanueva is off to a strong start with his strikeouts. His problems have always revolved around the long ball, and moving to Toronto is not going to help that situation (though he did leave Milwaukee in the process). Villanueva is nothing more than roster filler and strikeout help as his control and gopheritis make him too risky for use in the ninth inning unless needed for an emergency.

John McDonald $0 to Mike Siano: Pure injury coverage here with McDonald, who is best used sparingly.

Robert Andino $1 to Jeff Erickson: Andino stands to be one of the two beneficiaries of the at-bats that J.J. Hardy is giving up with his oblique injury over the next three weeks. Andino can steal, and hit 13 homers last year in Triple-A, but his major league numbers have always been plagued with awful contact. Unless you own Brandon Wood or J.J. Hardy at shortstop, there is no need to chase Andino.

Ramon Santiago $0 to Dean Peterson: Santiago’s value comes from his qualifying at second and shortstop. He is consistently a handy reserve to have around for that purpose, and makes enough contact to not hurt your batting average. Unfortunately, he does little else.

Jason Repko $2 to Jeff Erickson: Roster filler, nothing more.

Drew Butera $1 to me: I lost Adam Moore to a knee injury and needed a replacement catcher. The pickings were extremely thin, so I went with the one that rarely plays and cannot hurt me (and also the one who played at my alma mater).

NL-only:
Pete Orr $7 to Peter Kreutzer: Orr has wheels and had a solid year in Triple-A last season, stealing 25 bases and hitting 10 home runs, but has just three homers and 13 steals in 351 games at the major league level. All you can hope for is a steal or a run here or there.

Matt Young $0 to Tristan Cockcroft: Young was a surprise addition to the Braves’ roster out of camp. He has had great plate discipline throughout his minor league career  and 81 stolen bases across the past two seasons. This is a nice speed speculation on Cockcroft’s part should some playing time open up in Atlanta.

Matt Downs $0 to Tristan Cockcroft: Roster filler move with zero upside.

Wes Helms $6 to Phil Hertz: Helms is nothing more than a guy who can occasionally hit lefties these days. His power potential left him several years ago.

Sam LeCure $0 to Tristan Cockcroft: Like David Hernandez, LeCure found success when moving to the bullpen last season. For his career, he has a 641 OPS against the opposition in relief compared to an 818 OPS as a starter. His K/9 is two strikeouts higher in relief and his K/BB rate is a solid 3.0 in that role. He bears watching in the Reds pen this season for NL players.

Jason Jaramillo and Koyie Hill $0 to Paul Greco and Lenny Melnick: Their starting catchers are Ronny Paulino and Humberto Quintero, so they’re in dire need of catching help. They picked up what was left on the pile.

Dustin Moseley $4 to Peter Kreutzer: Moseley is dangerous roster filler with his very low strikeout rate and his gopheritis.

Miguel Batista $1 to Scott Pianowski: Ryan Franklin has already blown three saves and Jason Motte has yet to strike out any of the 17 batters he has faced this season. Enter Batista, who once saved 31 games in 2005. Who knows what could happen with this bullpen, but Batista has been rather wild these past few seasons.

Felipe Paulino $3 to Cory Schwarz: Paulino is always someone I thought would work out well in late relief, as he throws quite hard. Yet, he has been pounded in a relief role throughout his career, with a 1094 OPS in 123 plate appearances. He is off to a good start this season in the smallest of sample sizes, having held the opposition to a 690 OPS thus far.

Ross Gload $3 to Cory Schwartz: He offers part-time pop but you have to guess right when those home runs are going to start. Good luck with that.

Xavier Paul $0 to Brian Walton: A former highly-ranked prospect is now just roster-filler.

Anthony Bastardo $5 to Phil Hertz: The last name alone is worth a $1, but the strikeout skills are worth another few bucks. He has a three-to-one strikeout to walk rate in 47 innings, and has given up five home runs in that time. His problem has been a high hit rate, but the rest of his skills are flying under the radar.

Daniel Descalso $1 to Phil Hertz: He showed solid plate discipline in the minors but is not much help in the other categories.

Zach Braddock $2 to Mike Gianella: John Axford has had a few hiccups and Takashi Saito is now on the DL. Braddock is enticing due to an electric strikeout rate, but his walk rate has been all over the place, and has stayed over 5.0 since getting to Triple-A. He is worth rostering if you have the space on your reserve list, especially now that Saito is on the disabled list.

Mixed League:
Jeremy Guthrie $8 to Scott Swanay: Guthrie has been one of the big surprises this season as he has had two quality starts–one against the hapless Rays and one against the red-hot Rangers. The problem: he is not helping anyone in 5x5 leagues with a 4.5 K/9 rate. The .146 BABIP is going to climb quickly, but his control is for real.

Jason Hammel $2 to Charlie Wiegert: I made no bones about my feelings for Hammel this season in that I think he is going to be one of the surprises of the season. He won an ugly start in his debut against Billingsley and he’s a solid sixth starter/reserve guy for mixed leagues to hold onto in case I am right about this breakout.

Jeff Francis $1 to Fred Zinkie: Two starts, no wins, and some home run issues with a low strikeout rate. All of that makes for a dangerous mixture in mixed leagues. Buyer beware.

Willie Bloomquist $8 to Nando DiFino: When you spend eight percent of your FAAB on the flavor of the month, you have to hope that you’re not buying the player on the back-end of his production. Stephen Drew is back so the appearances at shortstop might be gone, but left field still remains somewhat unsettled (and Kirk Gibson clearly wants to keep him running). He has to keep running at this rate to justify rostering his complete lack of power.

Chris Getz $1 to Derek Carty: Getz is much like Bloomquist–he is off to a hot start but an utter lack of power should keep him on mixed league benches unless there is an emergency.

Matt Harrison $10 to Nick Minnix: Harrison has looked fantastic in two starts, and with the run support the Rangers can provide, this is a guy that could win 10-plus games with solid strikeout totals if he can hold the job.

Alexi Ogando $10 to Gene McCaffrey: Ogando’s value was high for FAAB, and it would have gone even higher after his terrific outing against the Tigers yesterday. Durability is a concern, as he has never thrown more than 45 pitches in a game before this season, and now he has done it in two straight games.

Jesse Litsch $0 to Paul Petera: The run support is there, but Litsch is an extremely risky skill set in mixed leagues.

Desmond Jennings $4 to Nick Minnix: This was a purely speculative buy for Minnix, as Super Two status is very likely to keep Jennings in Triple-A until some time near the all-star break. The Rays have already called up two washed up veterans to replace injured players over Desmond Jennings, which speaks volumes.

Fausto Carmona $4 to Andy Behrens: The Indians are off to a hot start and Carmona has nine strikeouts in ten innings. That would be his highest strikeout rate since the last time someone altered his skill ratings on MLB 2K11. Even with the hot start, Carmona has not yet picked up a win.

Brent Morel $10 to Nando DiFino: Morel hits for average, but the power is quite pedestrian for mixed leagues, making this buy a rather aggressive one to fill a roster spot. In this case, DiFino lost Longoria.

Travis Hafner $7 to Tim Heaney: Is Pronk back? He is off to a hot start that is being overshadowed by Asdrubal Cabrera’s own early season. There are worse risks than cheap power—as long as he can remain healthy. 

Jason Collette is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

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