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April 30, 2013

Free Agent Watch

American League, Week Five

by Paul Singman

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David Phelps, SP, New York Yankees
Ownership: ESPN: 0.2% Yahoo!: 5%  CBS: 18%
2013 Stats: 17.0 IP, 1 W, 0 SV, 22 K, 5.29 ERA, 1.47 WHIP

With Ivan Nova landing on the disabled list, Phelps gets his opportunity to prove his stuff can work from the rotation, too. So far, he’s been working out of the bullpen as a long reliever and done a good job of missing bats with 22 strikeouts in 17 innings. However, he’s also been quite hittable and fairly wild, allowing 17 hits and eight walks, which has led to an ERA above 5.00. Still, some of that can be attributed to poor luck, and historically he’s shown great control in the minors, so Phelps has the potential to be solid fourth starter. In AL-only and 14-plus-team mixed leagues, he’s certainly worth owning. In shallower formats, I’d at least start him for his first attempt against the Astros tomorrow and go from there.

Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians
Ownership: ESPN: 0.6% Yahoo!: 6%  CBS: 34%
2013 Stats: 18.0 IP, 1 W, 0 SV, 24 K, 2.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP (AAA)

As a prospect, Bauer is more style than substance at this point, with his name carrying more influence than is warranted based on his actual numbers. He has consistently struck out over a batter an inning in the minors, but also has an inflated walk rate that balloons whenever he is promoted to the majors. If you remember his one start in the beginning of this year on April 6, he walked a casual seven batters over five innings of work. Anyway, tomorrow, Bauer will get his second major-league chance of the season in what’s being called a spot start versus the Phillies. Given the struggles of Indians starters Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez before last night, Bauer can easily turn this spot start into something more permanent with a solid showing. In AL-only leagues, you don’t have a choice to pass him up, but in anything shallower than 15-team mixers, I’d let someone else roll the dice.

Andy Dirks, OF, Detroit Tigers
Ownership:  ESPN: 1.1% Yahoo!: 2%  CBS: 9%
2013 Stats: 5 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB, .196 AVG

After getting off to a slow, 8-for-48 start and missing most of last week with a minor knee injury, it’s unsurprising that Dirks has fallen off most people’s radars. With last night’s two-hit performance (including a homer), however, I’m sure he’s reappearing on the map. Dirks is nothing special as a strong-side platoon player, but he likely won’t hurt you in average and can reach low-double-digit homers. He’s similar to Chris Denorfia or Seth Smith in that regard, if Smith weren’t hitting out of his mind right now. If you’re in a 14-plus-team mixed league where those guys are owned, Dirks can have some marginal value as a fifth outfielder.

James Loney, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays
Ownership:  ESPN: 3.3% Yahoo!: 4%  CBS: 13%
2013 Stats: 7 R, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, .349 AVG

Don’t look now, but Loney is currently batting a cool .350 on the year. You looked, didn’t you. It’s okay, I’m past it. Back to Loney. At 29 years old, that breakout we waited years for ain’t happening. But he is driving the ball well and could easily bat .300 the rest of the year, which would be a pleasant surprise. Still, outside of 15-team mixers and deeper formats, he doesn’t provide enough oomph elsewhere to justify ownership unless you have injuries. Keep in mind that he also sits against lefties.

Michael Saunders, OF, Seattle Mariners
Ownership:  ESPN: 4.9% Yahoo!: 15%  CBS: 47%
2013 Stats: 8 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 SB, .261 AVG

Saunders was likely drafted in all leagues, but in shallower formats, there’s a chance he’s been dropped since hitting the disabled list a few weeks ago. He returned to action last night and promptly hit a home run in his first at-bat. Last year, Saunders was a surprise 20-homer, 20-steal contributor, and he should be owned in all league formats.

Vidal Nuno, RP, New York Yankees
Ownership: ESPN: 0.0% Yahoo!: 0%  CBS: 1%
2013 Stats: 23.1 IP, 2 W, 0 SV, 26 K, 1.54 ERA, 0.64 WHIP (AAA)

Nuno is taking over the long-relief role in the Yankees bullpen, after putting up the filthy numbers you see above in Triple-A before getting the call. Just to reiterate, in 23 innings, he has struck out 26 batters and walked two. Doing the math, that’s a 13 K:BB. Nuno is 25 years old and made his first major-league appearance last night in mop-up duty against the Astros. In three innings, he allowed four singles, no runs, and punched out two batters. He likely won’t see the rotation, but relievers that can go multiple innings and get a handful of strikeouts can be more valuable than your standard non-closing reliever. In AL-only leagues, he could be worth a roster spot. 

Related Content:  Ownership,  Andy Dirks

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