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FAAB Factor - AL: Caution on Conor

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire.com and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

STARTING PITCHERS

Anthony Lerew - Lerew's first start after getting called up to replace the injured Luke Hochevar went well. He held the Astros to two runs over six innings, striking out seven while giving up three hits and two walks. The strikeouts were a bit of a surprise, given that he K'd only 41 batters in 73 innings for Triple-A Omaha before his callup. Insert your own jokes comparing the Astros' lineup to a Triple-A lineup here. Lerew is no prospect - he's a 27-year old that was designated for assignment back in April. The Royals have two injured starting pitchers right now - ultimately Hochevar should return before Gil Meche, perhaps by quite a bit. When Hochevar returns, it'll come down to Lerew vs. Bruce Chen to hold Meche's spot. My guess is that Chen gets the nod. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Jesse Litsch - Litsch beat expectations by returning from Tommy John elbow surgery before the All-Star break and pitched a gem against the Giants on Saturday, throwing seven shutout innings. Litsch doesn't throw especially hard, with an average fastball coming in at 89-91 mph and a cutter around 87 mph. He's never been much of a strikeout pitcher, though, averaging fewer than 5.0 K's per nine innings. That limits his viability in innings-cap leagues, and of course, I'm not fond of having a pitch-to-contact guy in the AL East. If you're down a man due to injuries or demotions (paging Rick Porcello, for instance), then I can see the logic in throwing a bid at him while knowing his limits. Mixed: $0; AL: $5.
Rick Porcello - I don't think Porcello's demotion is analogous to Max Scherzer's earlier this year, in that Porcello has never really been that dominant, even at his best. It's not that the stuff isn't there, but he just hasn't put away hitters in the same fashion. I thought that after his strong finish last year, especially in the play-in game against the Twins, that he would take the next logical step up this year. But this season from him is yet another reminder that pitchers don't progress linearly, but rather in fits and starts. Still it's not a bad time to go after him on the cheap in keeper leagues or even in redraft leagues if you have the room on your bench to stash him - the raw talent is clearly there. I just don't think you'll get him back in 10 days like Scherzer's owners did. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.

RELIEF PITCHERS

Jeff Manship - Manship was a huge bullpen saver for the Twins on Saturday, but the thanks he might get for his efforts is a demotion back to Rochester once the Twins need the roster spot. He doesn't project to be the next guy to start should a starter go down, nor is he going to be a late-inning option absent an emergency. He's more valuable to the Twins than he could ever be to you in a fantasy context. Mixed and AL: No.
Alexi Ogando - Right now Ogando isn't a primary member of the Rangers' set-up crew, but he has the ability to work his way into that group. Between Double-A and Triple-A, he had 42 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. He's a fastball/slider guy that can ratchet it up to the high-90's on his fastball. It's interesting that he got the call before organization-mate Tanner Scheppers, but the Rangers decided to convert Scheppers into a starter just recently. If you're looking for saves, look elsewhere, at least for this year - he's behind Neftali Feliz, Frank Francisco and Chris Ray for now. But if you're in a simulation league like Scoresheet, he'll be a really nice asset. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

CATCHERS

Jeff Mathis - Mathis is finally off the DL and it looks like he'll get most of the playing time behind the plate, with Michael Napoli starting at first base. His strong start before the injury and his finish in the playoffs might have created an unrealistic set of expectations. I think that if you can get a .260 batting average with a token bit of power, you should be pretty happy. Anything better than that is just gravy. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.

CORNER INFIELDERS

Kevin Frandsen - Injuries to both Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis has opened the door both for Brandon Wood and Frandsen to play daily, and so far Frandsen has performed better, at least offensively. It was Frandsen's throw from first base that helped contribute to Aybar's injury, leaving him exposed against Casey McGehee's slide. While Frandsen is a decent bet to hit for average, he's not going to run a lot (Sunday's stolen base notwithstanding) or hit for power. Still, I'd rather have him than Wood in redraft leagues right now. Mixed: $1; AL: $7.
Jarrett Hoffpauir - The Jays sent Edwin Encarnacion down to Triple-A Las Vegas following Sunday's loss to the Giants, a game where Encarnacion went 0-for-4 to drop to .200 for the year, and had his seventh error of the season. This probably won't be a long-term demotion for Encarnacion, but I doubt it's just for the minimum 10 days either. Hoffpauir is in his fourth Triple-A season, having never really gotten a chance at the major league level (12 career at-bats). He was tearing it up at Vegas before getting the call, hitting .341/.391/.547 in an offensive-fueled environment. Because the Jays can slot Jose Bautista at third base, it's not a guarantee that Hoffpauir will play every day, but keep in mind that Travis Snider remains out until at least the All-Star break. For the next three weeks, Hoffpauir will at least be a part of the picture. He'll offer a smattering of power to go along with a good batting eye - given the playing time, he could be of some help. Mixed: $0; AL: $9.
Dayan Viciedo - In a nice bit of coincidence, Viciedo's name comes up right before Brandon Wood's this week. While Wood projects to be a better defender, they are similar hitters. Both have legit power and came through their respective organizations with no small amount of hype. Unfortunately, both have real problems identifying when a pitch is outside of the strike zone. Viciedo's BB:K at Triple-A Charlotte has actually worsened this year, dropping down to 8:52 in 238 at-bats. Because of that, I'm wary of bidding anything more than a token bid on him. The fact that the White Sox took three days to play him this weekend is also a little disturbing. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Brandon Wood - This is Wood's last best chance with the Angels, I think, assuming that Erick Aybar's knee injury keeps him out for a while and that Maicer Izturis remains on the DL for more than just the minimum 15 days. We discussed him a little bit in Charging the Mound this week and have spent a lot of virtual oxygen on him in the past, so I won't belabor the point further. I think he needs a change of scenery, and even if he gets that, the utter lack of plate discipline is killing him. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Jason Bartlett - It's not that Bartlett is available in most leagues, but I wanted to bring him up because he's coming off the DL and his return is going to cut into the playing time of Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez. Bartlett gets a lot of credit for his defense, but at least right now, Brignac has more range at shortstop. If that's just a function of him working his way back from the DL, that's one thing. If that drop in range is permanent, though, it's going to be hard to justify playing him daily and making Brignac/Rodriguez settle for the scraps, no matter his reputation. So while this isn't a "sell-high" message, it's more of a "sell before he's not low" idea. (No bid, because he's not a free agent in the vast majority of the leagues.)
Nick Green - It's Green's turn to fulfill the invisible man role that Mike McCoy had before his demotion. After getting a run of playing time with the Red Sox last year, Green has descended back into relative obscurity, where he will remain unless the Jays lose multiple middle infielders - he's behind both Alex Gonzalez and John McDonald at shortstop and Aaron Hill at second base. I don't think that he'll be Edwin Encarnacion's replacement at third base. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Jack Wilson - Wilson is back after over a month-long stint on the DL due to his hamstring problem. While he was away, Josh Wilson displayed some competence at the plate, which is more than Jack Wilson could claim, with a .622 OPS before the injury. Do the Mariners have to make an offense-vs.-defense decision between the Wilsons, or will Jack Wilson regain his job on a full-time basis eventually? Either way, we'll have to be on the lookout for more "J. Wilson" confusion in the online boxscores. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

OUTFIELDERS

Conor Jackson - In your deep AL-only leagues, Jackson has his merits, where playing time is king. If you're struggling to find at-bats period, Jackson is going to step in and play every day, usually hitting towards the top of the order. He's got a good batting eye and will get on-base frequently enough, but his overall lack of power is only going to get exacerbated by the change in his home parks. So your decision to bid aggressively or not has to be conditional on how desperate you are for the at-bats. Mixed: $3; AL: $15-35, pending your needs.
Matt Joyce - Hank Blalock is the latest Rays' DH to become an overblown singles hitter, checking in at a .273/.322/.382 clip. Meanwhile, Joyce has been tearing it up at a .316/.458/.500 pace at Triple-A Durham, walking more (19) than he's struck out (15). We've spent more time speculating when Desmond Jennings will get the call than Joyce, but Joyce will probably get an opportunity first. In the hyper-competitive AL East, the Rays can't keep giving their DH at-bats to players hitting like Blalock and Willy Aybar (.278 OBP). I liked Joyce, perhaps too much, last year when injuries and Ben Zobrist's breakout cost him a chance at real playing time. I think he'll get that chance this year. Mixed: $0; AL: $2 both on spec.
Ryan Raburn - Raburn has picked up extra playing time, along with Donald Kelly, thanks to Austin Jackson's back spasms. Raburn's dropoff is pretty starked compared to last year's quasi-breakout, and his lack of defensive ability is going to cost him the chance to play a whole lot more than he's getting this week. A couple of big games this week showed his potential, though, and he's run a little unlucky, with a .254 BABIP. In AL leagues he might be a nice key over the second half. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.

DESIGNATED HITTER

Mike Sweeney - Sweeney is back from the DL, but he hasn't regained his starting DH job back, as the M's have settled into what I believe is their most optimal set-up, with Milton Bradley at DH and Michael Saunders in left field. Sweeney offers a little bit more power, but not enough to compensate for an otherwise inferior bat. Mixed: No; AL: $1.