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July 23, 2012

Value Picks

Second, Short, and Catcher for 7/23/12

by Josh Shepardson

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Departures
My desire to feature someone else as this week's AL-only VP spelled the end for Brian Dozier (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 1%, CBS 7%) being included in the column. Of course, he has done himself no favors to remain either. In the last seven days, Dozier has hit an ugly .185/.214/.185 with zero home runs and zero steals. The last 14 days weren't much better, as he hit .200/.263/.286 with one home run and zero stolen bases. That type of production, or better said, that lack of production simply isn't going to cut it, even in AL-only leagues.

With no rumors of a promotion and a slide in production in his last 10 games, Grant Green (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 3%) is no longer a worthwhile stash option. Should the bat heat back up, he could find himself back on AL-only league radars.

His stay was short as the NL-only VP pick; Logan Forsythe (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 1%, CBS 3%) was nothing more than a plug-and-play option while he was hitting for average. As I alluded to last week, his speed and power don't stand out in fantasy games, so he needs to hit for average to even be a fringe option in NL-only leagues. In the seven days prior to Sunday, Forsythe hit a paltry .214 with, unsurprisingly, no power or speed. He didn't help his cause Sunday, going 0-for-2, and while he has had some poor luck on his batted balls, it's safe to cut bait without fear of ruing the decision later.

Hanging On
The hot streak of Ryan Doumit (Yahoo! 30%, ESPN 10%, CBS 60%) had to come to an end at some point. BABIP regression was to be expected, but it is a rise in his swinging strike rate and, with it, a decrease in his contact rate that are of greater concern. He has been ultra aggressive and hasn't drawn a walk since July 3. His saving grace was a power explosion on Sunday. He smacked two home runs in a 3-for-4 effort against the Royals. If the home run power is coming around, Doumit can continue to be a fringe option in single-catcher mixed leagues of 12 teams or larger. His consistent at-bats will make him a safe second catcher the remainder of the year in two-catcher leagues even if he should go on a cold streak.

There is an argument to be made that Gordon Beckham (Yahoo! 12%, ESPN 17%, CBS 52%) should fall in with the departures, but I'm willing to extend him another week of leash. He has gone a wretched 3-for-22 since last week's article and has seen his groundball rate rise. He has, however, made a ton of contact, striking out just three times since the All-Star break, two of which came in the first game back. If he's able to continue to make contact at a high rate and find that line drive swing he had as recently as last week, I like his odds of going on tear. It may not happen, as Beckham has repeatedly disappointed owners willing to give him another chance, but second base and the middle infield are bad enough that extending Beckham another week's leash could pay off.

Sticking Around
The Padres continue to get offensive production from the catching position of late thanks to the decision to turn the tools of ignorance over to Yasmani Grandal (Yahoo! 14%, ESPN 6%, CBS 41%). Grandal whacked his fifth home run of the season last week, and he also drew his first walk in the majors. He recorded at least one hit in three of five games, including two multi-hit efforts, and went 5-for-20 overall with a double and a home run last week. He's swinging at seemingly everything, and that will probably eventually be exploited by big league pitchers. His home ballpark will do his home run total no favors either, but for now, he's a solid second catching option in two-catcher mixed leagues.

He's not putting up big numbers, but Stephen Drew (Yahoo! 21% ESPN 16%, CBS 37%) seems to be healthy and is receiving relatively steady playing time. He has a silly 40 percent line drive rate since rejoining the Diamondbacks, but you'd never know that from his .273 BABIP and .214 batting average. In addition to the poor average, he has yet to hit a single round-tripper. Patience is in order, though, as Drew's bat is too good to cut in anything but shallow mixed leagues. He'll get it going; have faith.

The non-waiver trade deadline is nearing, and the Padres are in the position of likely seller. Having locked up Carlos Quentin to a multi-year extension, the likeliest bat to be traded becomes Chase Headley. A move of Headley would open the door to Jedd Gyorko (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS ). Gyorko remains scalding hot, hitting .361/.442/.667 with three home runs in his last 10 games. Regardless of whether or not Headley is dealt, it would seem Gyorko's time is near, as he has nothing left to prove with the bat in the minors.

AL-only VP
An injury to Erick Aybar prompted the Angels to add Jean Segura (Yahoo! Unavailable, ESPN 0%, CBS 6%) to their active roster Sunday night. Initial reports were that Aybar would be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a broken foot. Those reports appear to be premature, as the team has yet to put him on the disabled list and is currently listing him as day-to-day as they wait to hear back from doctors. Maicer Izturis got the start on Sunday night, but Segura is a decent speculative add in AL-only leagues.

While he won't offer any power this year, he could be a stolen base asset. Segura, who most deem to be the top prospect in the Angels organization, is hitting .294/.346/.404 on the season with 33 stolen bases and a passable stolen base success rate of 72 percent. His batting average has gone up every month, starting at a .256 in April, followed by .294 in May, .301 in June, and .333 in July. His strikeout rate of 15 percent on the year means he's making contact at an acceptable rate. He has just 433 plate appearances above High-A, however, so some struggles are to be expected. That said, his ability to steal bases and potentially hit for a rosterable batting average make him a fine gamble. The Angels rank 11th in runs scored, so there is a chance Segura could tally a useful number of runs scored, even slotting at the bottom of the lineup.

NL-only VP
Last week, someone mentioned Josh Rutledge (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 2%, CBS 13%) in the comments. With another week of positive results under his belt, I'm willing to give him the nod as this week's NL-only VP. He's hitting .353/.378/.588 in 37 big league plate appearances with three stolen bases. He is chasing pitches out of the strike zone at an above league average rate but is offering at fewer pitches in the strike zone than league average. That's not a good combination, and there are further reasons to be skeptical of Rutledge continuing to be effective. He has just 379 plate appearances in the upper minors, all at Double-A this year, where he posted a Miguel Olivo-esque 3.7 percent walk rate. Walks aren't the be-all-end-all, but in order to offset a hacking approach like that, the player had better make contact at a very high rate and limit his strikeouts. His strikeout rate of 18 percent isn't good enough to offset such a low walk rate for an extended exposure to major league pitching. He has been better in the majors in both rates, but the sample is tiny.

Now that I've harped on the bad, I'll point out the good. Rutledge has flashed power and speed in the minors, hitting 13 home runs and stealing 14 bases this year in the minors. Kevin Goldstein gave him a three-star prospect designation and ranked him as the ninth-best prospect in the Rockies’ organization coming into the year. Goldstein noted that Rutledge has average speed that plays up because of his instincts but pointed out that he doesn't project to hit for much power. Still, playing his home games at Coors Field should help Rutledge maximize whatever power upside he has. A handful of home runs the rest of the year doesn't seem like a crazy projection. If he's able to swipe a few more bags than that, suddenly Rutledge becomes a useful NL-only option. At this point, he's a player worth rolling the dice on.

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