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FAAB Factor - AL: Catcher Speculation

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

Blake Beavan - Beavan was the principal pitching component that the M's received in the Cliff Lee trade. The former 2008 first-round pick has been a little slow to develop, especially in terms of being able to miss bats. He had a low ERA at Double-A Frisco, with a 68:12 K:BB, but that was in 110 innings. He's a tall pitcher (6'7"), so often it takes a little longer for pitchers like him to develop. I don't think, for instance, that he's another Doug Fister. But he'll make his Triple-A debut after the break, and I don't expect anything more than a September promotion. Mixed and AL: No.

Brian Duensing - Duensing needs to get stretched out before he starts, but the Nick Blackburn experience is really testing the patience of the Twins lately. Blackburn just got the dreaded vote of confidence this weekend and will maintain his spot in the rotation for now, but at some point Duensing is the next in line. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.

Dan Hudson - Prior to his promotion, Hudson had 108 K's in 93.1 innings, but served up 13 homers. That combo could make for quite a lot of variance, especially at home in the Cell. His debut on Sunday was a little sloppy, which is to be expected a little bit. But with Jake Peavy out for the year, look for Hudson to get an extended look. Mixed: $5; AL: $15.


David Pauley - Pauley picked up the emergency start on Friday for the M's in the wake of the Cliff Lee trade. The Mariners haven't yet decided whether to keep him in the rotation or move him back to the bullpen in favor of someone like Ian Snell or Michael Pineda. Pauley is no up-and-comer, but instead a 27-year old that's spent the better part of the last four years in Triple-A. He could get a Jason Vargas-like bounce pitching in Safeco with that defense behind him, but there's not much in the way of upside here. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Michael Pineda - Pineda is the best pitching prospect in the M's system and has had a fantastic season, first dominating Double-A before getting his promotion to Triple-A Tacoma a few weeks ago. Now that the M's have traded Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard had another setback, there's an opening in the big league rotation. Will they call up Pineda soon? The initial indication is that they aren't inclined to rush Pineda, but if he keeps pitching like he has so far, he's going to help make that decision for them, though his last start was a setback. Still, in four starts he has a 28:8 K:BB in 22.1 innings. If you can speculate, you've got a chance on landing a potentially dominant guy working in a great pitcher's park with a great defense behind him. Mixed and AL: $1 spec. bid.


Rick Porcello - Porcello will get a spot start next Saturday when the Tigers play a doubleheader against the Indians, but it might just be a one-and-done. He pitched well on Saturday for Triple-A Toledo, but his overall numbers are just mediocre - a good 3.21 ERA, but a 19:10 K:BB in 28 innings doesn't really stand out. Ultimately, the Tigers will have decide between Porcello and Armando Galarraga as their fifth starter, unless of course they trade for a starter before the deadline. That they lost Joel Zumaya in the bullpen, however, might lead them to address that in a trade first. Mixed: No; AL: $0.


Marc Rzepczynski - I was remiss in not mentioning Rzepczynski last week, though I'm afraid his start was a bit of a one-and-done, unless the Jays decide to keep Jesse Litsch in the rotation once Shaun Marcum returns, or if Marcum's return gets delayed at all. That he worked in relief on Saturday isn't necessarily revealing, because of the All-Star break this week. His first start revealed both his upside (7:1 K:BB in 5.2 innings) and his downside (two homers allowed). I was pretty high on him before his fractured middle finger in spring training - assuming he's healthy, there's reason to believe he could be of some value to the Jays, though pitching in the AL East mitigates some of that value. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

RELIEF PITCHERS

Matt Harrison - The trade for Cliff Lee shuts out the possibility of Harrison returning to the rotation, at least anytime soon. But he is back up with the big league club and presumably for good this time, assuming that there's not another need for the Rangers to get another spot start that's off-cycle for Harrison. After a fantastic spring, Harrison hasn't really fulfilled expectations, striking out just 5.19 batters per nine innings when he has been healthy. Because he has dealt with biceps tendinitis, we can give his numbers a bit of a pass, but the flip side of this is that health has always been a big question mark for him. Given the depth of pitching talent still in the Rangers' system, even after the trades of Blake Beavan and Michael Main, his long-term upside isn't nearly so high. Mixed: No; AL: $0.


Robbie Weinhardt - As a former 10th round pick in 2008, Weinhardt has come in a little under the radar for the Tigers, pitching as a reliever every step of the way, but he's succeeded at each level. His K-rate dropped once he hit Triple-A, though every other component remained steady. He could end up working his way into the Tigers' set-up role eventually. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

CATCHERS

J.P. Arencibia - I've heard rumors that the Jays will be among the more active sellers at the trade deadline, and why shouldn't they be? To that end, John Buck is only signed to a one-year deal, and while he's hit well for power, he still has a .306 OBP, and that's about as good as it's going to get. If there's a team out there looking to trade for a power bat behind the plate, the Jays should rush to try to fill the breach, and make room for Arencibia. Arencibia has hit 25 homers at Triple-A Las Vegas so far, albeit in a bandbox and a hitter's league. The former 2007 first-round pick has improved his walk rate from 5% to 8% this year - which is nice, but perhaps still short of being optimal. But I think that Arencibia has a shot at being at least the equal to Buck, probably better in the long run. He and Brett Wallace should be playing with the big league club over the second half. Mixed and AL: $1 spec. bid.


Jesus Montero - The Yankees have made Montero available once in trade talks, it's possible that they could do so again, though they've indicated that as far as starting pitching goes, it was Cliff Lee or bust. Still, should they make a play for someone like Roy Oswalt, it's possible that they could make Montero available to the Astros, in which case theoretically his path to the majors would be shorter. I say theoretically because the Astros have Jason Castro behind the plate and still have Lance Berkman at first, though I think that they'll make a push to trade Berkman if possible. Anyhow, it's a good bet that whoever trades for Montero, if he does get dealt, will play him at first rather than behind the plate. The bottom line is that as a Yankee it'll take awhile for Montero to get his chance, but elsewhere, maybe not so much. Mixed and AL: $1 spec. bid.


Wilson Ramos - We're full of speculative bids at catcher this week. Like Montero, Ramos' name was floated in trade talks, and I have to think that he's still in play assuming that the Twins are still looking for a starting pitcher to displace Nick Blackburn. It's clear that Ramos isn't going to get his chance to catch regularly for the Twins. He's actually having a pretty poor season at Triple-A Rochester, hitting .212/.249/.314 in 226 at-bats. But his numbers at previous levels were superior, so he'll earn some patience. Mixed and AL: $0 spec. bid.

CORNER INFIELDERS

Chris Davis - From a fantasy perspective, the really big winner in the Cliff Lee trade is Davis, who now inherits the Rangers' first-base job. Once again, Davis has torn it up at the Triple-A level, posting a .958 OPS there this year after his early-season demotion. Remember that he was once a pretty big-time prospect in his own right, albeit one with a flaw that he still hasn't corrected completely - his strikeout rate. There's a fear that he could be a rich man's Jeff Clement - able to put up big minor league numbers, but with a significant hole in his swing that major league hurlers can consistently exploit. Mixed: $8; AL: $25.


Danny Valencia - Valencia has been a forgotten player with Michael Cuddyer moved to third base, but Justin Morneau's concussion has opened the door back open for Valencia to start at third, with Cuddyer moving across the diamond. Valencia hasn't hit for power at all this year, but he's kept his head above water at the plate with the Twins nonetheless, posting a .315 BA and .383 OBP. If Morneau has to go on the DL, Valencia could get a run for a couple of weeks to better demonstrate his wares. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Brent Lillibridge - Gordon Beckham has showed some signs of life lately, and got an endorsement as the starting second baseman, but Lillibridge has worked his way into the picture just a little bit. He doesn't offer any power, but he could be a cheap source of speed if the playing time came along. Mixed: No; AL: $2.

OUTFIELDERS

Travis Snider - Snider's wrist injury kept him on the DL much longer than originally expected (remember, when he got hurt, he first expected to be back in a few days), but he's tearing it up on his rehab assignment and should be back shortly after the All-Star break. The only concern with Snider from a fantasy perspective is how the Jays are going to find time for him to play. Will they bench Edwin Encarnacion at third and move Jose Bautista there? Will they sit Fred Lewis? Both Snider and Lewis hit left-handed, so there's not a platoon scenario in the latter playing time consideration. Still, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos seems to onboard with moving this team towards the future, if the rumors about their activity in advance of the trade deadline are accurate. Expect Snider to get a ton of playing time the final two months of the season. Mixed: $1; AL: $7.

Matt Watson - At first, I confused Watson with Matt Carson as another fungible outfielder when the A's called him up. It's true that Watson, like Carson, is a minor league veteran with very little chance to make much of an impact. He once played for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan. Mixed and AL: No.

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