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FAAB Factor - AL: Easy As Pie

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

Aaron Laffey - The Indians are throwing another dart by replacing David Huff (who had earned his demotion) with Laffey (who had not earned his promotion). Laffey in four starts at Triple-A Columbus had a 3.98 ERA, but a staggering 9:15 K:BB in 20.1 innings. I'm not a huge Carlos Carrasco fan, but how could he possibly have been a worse choice than Laffey to get a rotation slot? Mixed and AL: No.

Andy Oliver - Given what he went through at Oklahoma State vis-à-vis the NCAA (see Keith Law's coverage on the case, among others), I'm especially happy to see Oliver have some success at the major league level. I was fortunate to see Oliver pitch well in the Arizona Fall League's version of an All-Star game last November, and RotoWire Tigers beat writer Shannon McKeown rightly pointed out the return of his slider as key to his development in the AFL. After a rough start to the season, Oliver was dominating at Double-A Erie in his last 10 starts. The promotion to the majors still might be a little premature, especially in light of who he is currently replacing (Rick Porcello), but that's the Tigers' way. I like him as a short-term investment, though I think that once the league sees him after a few starts he might run into some resistance, as the game of adjustments and counter-adjustments begins. Mixed: $0; AL: $5.

RELIEF PITCHERS

Brandon League - League will be the temporary closer while David Aardsma is away on paternity leave, but League has taken great strides to show that he could do the job should Aardsma get dealt. Of course, the trade for Russell Branyan might suggest that the M's are less likely to trade away Aardsma than we previously thought. Still, if you have a choice between League and the White Sox set-up guys for saves for the rest of the season, I'd jump after League first. Mixed: $3; AL: $12

J.J. Putz - Putz is back in vintage form following two injury-wracked seasons in Seattle and New York, and he's been especially on fire the last month-plus, having not allowed a run since May 7. For the season he's got a 33:4 K:BB over 27.2 innings to go along with a 1.95 ERA and .759 WHIP. Bobby Jenks will miss a couple of days this week and either Putz or Matt Thornton could grab the resulting saves, much like Thornton did on Saturday. The White Sox have vaulted themselves into contention in the AL Central, so a trade of Jenks seems unlikely; thus, any potential save chances for either Putz or Thornton seem unlikely in the long-term, absent an injury. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.

Brian Sweeney - Sweeney got the win in relief on Saturday, throwing four scoreless innings after Doug Fister got his first start. This was his first appearance since his callup on June 15, which indicates that he's still pretty close to the last pitcher in the bullpen right now, though Saturday's outing might bump him up the totem pole. We last saw Sweeney in the majors in 2006 with the Padres, after which he spent time in Japan. At age 36, he isn't a young guy, so don't look at him as a Colby Lewis-type redemption story. Mixed and AL: No.

Koji Uehara - The Orioles are begrudgingly bowing to the reality that they need to focus on the future and put additional younger players in key roles, having designated Garrett Atkins for assignment on Sunday. To that end, Uehara is now off the DL, but I'm dubious that he'll work his way into the closing situation. Had he demonstrated that he could remain healthy for any sustainable period of time, it might be different. But clearly the O's time is better off seeing what they have in Alfredo Simon and David Hernandez in the late innings. Both excelled there on Sunday and generally have shown some promise. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

CATCHERS

Jake Fox - While Fox was dreadful with the A's, it's also true that he wasn't given much of a chance to succeed. His 98 at-bats were scattered about rather than apportioned regularly with the team. It was initially expected that he'd get more chances when the A's acquired him, but the decisions to trade for Kevin Kouzmanoff, re-sign Jack Cust and then install Eric Chavez as the starting DH really cut back Fox's opportunities. He presumably will get a better shot with the O's, given that they don't have the burden of competing and have just designated Garrett Atkins for assignment. Most of his time will come at DH or first base, though, and not behind the plate. Mixed: $0; AL: $6.

CORNER INFIELDERS

Russell Branyan - It's not as if Branyan had to worry about job security prior to his trade back to Seattle, but this at least takes away the specter of Matt LaPorta eventually taking it away from him or forcing a platoon. Why exactly the Mariners are dealing for him is a bit of a mystery. The M's entered Sunday 12 games under .500 and 14 games out in the AL West, which is their only path to the playoffs. It's not as if Branyan is a player to build around for the future, either. All this does is emphasize that the team feels there's no future for Mike Carp on the team. We know that Branyan can actually beat the park - he had a .920 OPS at Safeco last year. Why didn't they just sign him in the offseason in the first place? Strange things are afoot at the Circle K. Mixed: $7; AL: $19.

Kevin Frandsen - There's not much to add from last week's entry about Frandsen, but that he's won out over Brandon Wood in the short-term for playing time while Maicer Izturis is still out. Wood's astoundingly bad 3:45 BB:K is a blinking red light - he just hasn't developed at all as a hitter. That Wood is out of options really complicates matters for the Angels - how exactly do they find a way to get Wood to improve? Sitting on the bench won't do it, but they can't really afford to play him every day, not if they intend to compete in the AL West. Make no mistake, Frandsen has earned this playing time just as much as Wood has given it away, but Wood is still the more interesting discussion. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.

Matt LaPorta - Has sanity finally arrived in Cleveland and moved out to Seattle? Look, Russell Branyan isn't a bad ballplayer, and he certainly has a right to complain about how he didn't get a full shot earlier in his career, but all the times that LaPorta didn't play over the last three months were simply a waste of time for the Indians. I know I've harped on the point, and I'm not the only one at RotoWire to believe that to be the case. Anyhow, LaPorta is up and really should play every day, barring injury. He's conclusively proven that he has nothing left to prove at Triple-A, and that it's time to see what he has to give to the Tribe. There will be struggles at the major league level, as Sunday's 0-for-4 with two K's attests, but given time, he can be a useful part for the Indians the next time they're ready to contend. For us in the fantasy context, I think of him as a low-average, medium-power guy the rest of the way. Mixed: $2; AL: $10.

Scott Moore - Moore isn't a prospect, but he's also four years younger than Garrett Atkins and has more options defensively. It makes quite a bit of a sense for the O's to give him more of an extended shot at playing time, at least until Brian Roberts returns. That's an event that's looking increasingly more distant, so Moore might just get a couple of month's worth of at-bats. It sure beats apportioning that playing time to Julio Lugo or Atkins. I suspect that Nolan Reimold might be viewed as the long-term solution at first base, however, given where he's playing at Triple-A Norfolk. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Jayson Nix - The Indians' walk in the wilderness has best been illustrated by what's going on with Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley, but what's happened in the middle infield isn't that far away. They got a lot of bad luck on Asdrubal Cabrera's injury, but they haven't done themselves many favors by flailing with first Mark Grudzielanek and now the combo of Anderson Hernandez and Nix. The Indians described this situation as one that will remain in flux until either Hernandez or Nix “takes the bull by the horns," which means we might be waiting for quite a long time, and it's a perfect metaphor for their management style this season. Remember when Manny Acta was considered a sabermetric-friendly manager? Yeah, me neither. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Angel Sanchez - Sanchez was called up with Dustin Pedroia going on the DL over the weekend, but he might be the guy on the way back down once Eric Patterson reports to the team over the weekend. He's a light hitter with precious little likelihood of performing against form, even if he gets that chance to play for the Red Sox. Mixed and AL: No.

OUTFIELDERS

Colin Curtis - Curtis is essentially Kevin Russo-lite, or Chad Huffman-lite, if you'd prefer. He's a 25-year old that hasn't topped .730 after High-A. The Randy Winn failure experience really stands out here. Look for the Yankees to acquire an outfielder before the trade deadline expires. Mixed and AL: No.

Matt Joyce - We talked about him last week both in this article and also in Charging the Mound this week, so this is just a reminder that he's up and an adjustment to the bid. Mixed: $4; AL: $18.

Eric Patterson - Patterson will probably be part of the second base solution for the Red Sox while Dustin Pedroia is out - and the latest estimate on Pedroia is six weeks. Bill Hall has started the last two games there over the weekend, while Patterson is set to report to the team on Tuesday. What we might end up seeing is a platoon between Patterson and Hall, and while Patterson is on the good side of that platoon, I suspect he'll be yanked out of the game immediately whenever a lefty is on the mound. This analysis is complicated a little bit by injuries to Mike Lowell and the Red Sox outfielders, as Hall can chip in both in the outfield and at third, and Patterson can also play the outfield. The change in lineups and ballparks can only help Patterson, who wasn't hitting for average for the A's, but did hit four homers in 103 at-bats and steal six bases. Mixed: $1; AL: $7.

Felix Pie - Pie is about a week away from coming back from the DL, but what sort of role will he have once he returns? The Corey Patterson experience hasn't yet run its course - his .273/.325/.378 line isn't quite rock-bottomish enough to prompt them to pull the plug, I'd bet, particularly because he's 12-of-13 on the basepaths. Of course, Pie should play every day, but I have no confidence that the O's will make it happen, at least immediately. Perhaps they'll get backed into a corner in August or September to do the right thing. When that happens, Pie could end up being a 10-homer, 10-steal guy over the second half if he can stay healthy. Mixed: $1; AL: $3 on spec. if you can.

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