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July 30, 2012

Value Picks

Second, Short, and Catcher for 7/30/12

by Josh Shepardson

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Departures
My optimistic outlook for Gordon Beckham (Yahoo! 10%, ESPN 13%, CBS 46%) resulted in a 4-for-23 week at the dish with no pop or speed. He's making contact, with a contact rate of better than 90 percent in the last two weeks, but it hasn't been hard contact; he’s posted a paltry 8 percent line drive rate. Stephani Bee discussed Beckham as a change of scenery candidate in Wednesday's Lineup Card. Perhaps that is what it will take to get Beckham right, or perhaps there is no fixing Beckham, but for now, he doesn't need to be rostered in fantasy leagues.

With the 15th-highest ownership rate among catchers in ESPN leagues, Ryan Doumit (Yahoo! 41%, ESPN 25%, CBS 67%) no longer fits the spirit of this column, and thus we bid him farewell. In the last week he went 6-for-22, smacking one home run with two multi-hit efforts.

Last week's AL-only VP pick, Jean Segura (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0%, CBS 8%) was dealt to the Brewers as part of a package for Zack Greinke, and he was promptly optioned to the minors. He won't be able to help fantasy teams from the minors, so there is no reason to own him in redraft leagues for the time being.

A stunning ownership jump of 41 percent in ESPN leagues pushes Josh Rutledge (Yahoo! 13%, ESPN 43%, CBS 48%) out of his NL-only VP pick spot and out of the column altogether. He whacked two home runs and went 10-for-24 with four multi-hit games in the last week, and he has earned his ownership spike.

Hanging On
The Diamondbacks may only have a .500 record, but they find themselves in the playoff hunt nonetheless. They acquired Chris Johnson from the Astros on Sunday to attempt to shore up the hot corner, making it even more unlikely that they'd deal shortstop Stephen Drew (Yahoo! 21%, ESPN 15%, CBS 36%). That's good news for Drew, as there aren't many teams he could have been dealt to with friendlier home confines than Chase Field. Drew's season line is ugly—.203/.273/.266—and he didn't do much in the last week, but I maintain that his silly line drive rate of 40 percent is too good to ignore. He has yet to hit a home run, and it is hard to believe all of his fly balls will continue to stay in the yard. At some point, however, Drew has to start doing something or he simply isn't going to be worth rostering. Give him another week to turn his batted ball data into successful fantasy numbers.

Peter Gammons stated on MLB Network on Sunday evening that he did not believe the Padres would deal Chase Headley. They are not receiving offers in the neighborhood of what they expect in return for their talented young third baseman. That could delay Jedd Gyorko's (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 10%) arrival in the big leagues. I do still expect to see him in the majors at some point this year, and there is still a chance that the Padres could get an unexpected offer for Headley that provides a clear path to a Gyorko promotion. He has cooled off considerably in his last 10 games, slashing .211/.302/.316 with just one home run, but his season line of .311/.374/.533 suggests he has nothing left to prove in the minors with the stick.

Sticking Around
I'm not sure what Yasmani Grandal (Yahoo! 17%, ESPN 7%, CBS 42%) needs to do in order to get more love from the fantasy baseball community. He's hitting a scalding .312/.341/.597 in 82 plate appearances and went 6-for-14 this past week while recording at least one hit in all four starts he made. He remains a top-notch second catcher in two-catcher mixed leagues.

Arrivals
The Angels activated Chris Iannetta (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 1%, CBS 13%) from the disabled list on Saturday, and he went 1-for-3 in his first start after the activation. While he was on the DL, Iannetta's replacements behind the dish did nothing to distinguish themselves, leaving the everyday job for Iannetta to recapture. His hit on Sunday just pushed his average over the Mendoza-line to .203, and batting average isn't a category that Iannetta should be counted on to contribute in. While he no longer has the power boost of playing home games at Coors Field like he did in seasons past, he still has enough pop to justify being rostered as a second catcher in two-catcher mixed leagues.

AL-only VP
The A's acquired George Kottaras (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 2%) from the Brewers for relief pitcher Fautino De Los Santos on Sunday. R.J. Anderson noted in his Transaction Analysis piece that Kottaras is a poor defender with a notable split, making him a platoon candidate that sits against southpaws. He is no stranger to the three true outcomes with 18 home runs, a 14 percent walk rate, and a 20 percent strikeout rate in 601 career plate appearances. He has been a real three true outcomes machine this year with three home runs, 29 walks, and 24 strikeouts in 116 plate appearances. That's a three true outcomes percentage of 48 percent this year. Kottaras isn't a special catching option, but with semi-regular playing time he could provide enough power to be an AL-only option at catcher. He gets a boost in value in leagues that use OBP instead of, or in addition to, batting average.

NL-only VP
A trip to the disabled list for Ian Desmond has opened up everyday at-bats for Steve Lombardozzi (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 3%, CBS 8%). Lombardozzi owns second base, third base, and outfield eligibility in fantasy leagues, adding value to rostering him thanks to the roster flexibility he provides.  He isn't lighting the world on fire this year, hitting .270/.314/.350 with two home runs and three stolen bases, but he has some fantasy value in NL-only leagues. He has been at his best in the last week, going 10-for-33 with a triple and a home run.

Kevin Goldstein threw a three-star prospect ranking on Lombardozzi coming into the year, ranking him as the Nationals' eighth-best prospect and saying that his fantasy value would be limited by his lack of power and stolen-base speed. Still, he liked him to hit for a solid average. Lombardozzi has basically lived up to that projection. He makes a lot of contact—his 91 percent contact rate is 11 percent higher than the league average—and as you’d expect for this type of player, he rarely strikes out (10 percent strikeout rate). Lombardozzi is hitting line drives at a solid clip (20 percent) and should hit for more average than he has to date going forward. Don't expect a lot in the way of secondary fantasy contributions, but sometimes a solid average, moderate contributions in the other fantasy categories, and steady playing time is enough to be rosterable.

Related Content:  Steve Lombardozzi,  Espn

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