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FAAB Factor - AL: The Haren Heist

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

Brett Anderson - Anderson probably will come off the DL beginning on Friday, and he slots in perfectly to replace Ben Sheets in the rotation, allowing the A's to keep up Vincent Mazzaro. Anderson's last rehab start didn't go all that well, so this gives the A's the opportunity to give him one more outing, and he was lights out through four innings on Sunday at press time. This is a pretty big shot in the arm for the A's, who quietly have worked themselves over .500 and in the periphery of the AL West race. There's some risk of re-injury, but the upside is pretty high. Mixed: $15; AL: already owned.

Carlos Carrasco - Carrasco is a candidate to replace the injured Aaron Laffey in the rotation beginning on Tuesday, though it's worth noting that he's been dealing with elbow injuries of his own. If he gets the call, stay away this week - chances are that he won't be able to work deep into the game, and moreover, the start is against the Yankees. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Dan Haren - Even with Haren's gopher ball issues and traditional second half numbers, if you're in an AL-only league you need to empty out your FAAB piggy bank to land Haren. His component numbers are otherwise still strong - his strikeout rate is as high as ever, and his walk rate is only incrementally up. He's going to have a better bullpen behind him now, and probably get better run support. If you have the hammer in your league, I'd rather pull the trigger on Haren rather than wait to see if Roy Oswalt comes across. AL: All you can eat, baby.

Brad Mills - Mills is expected to get called up on Wednesday to start against the Orioles, following a doubleheader and a rainout. However, this is supposed to be a one-off for Mills, who has a 4.13 ERA (in Las Vegas, take note) and a 81:37 K:BB in 89.1 innings. It's not the worst spot for a one-time start, obviously, just be aware that there's no value beyond that barring injury. Mixed and AL: No.

Sean O'Sullivan - O'Sullivan enhanced his trade value for the Angels by holding down the Yankees in Yankee Stadium to two runs over six innings. Now with the Royals, his rotation spot is actually reasonably secure for at least a month, with Gil Meche and Luke Hochevar progressing incrementally from their respective injuries. When one or both come back, he'll have to outlast Bruce Chen, which shouldn't be an insurmountable challenge. I'm not thrilled with O'Sullivan in the short-run - the current ERA is low, but with a low strikeout rate that's not accompanied by anything special in terms of his ground ball rate, he's due for a correction, and probably a pretty significant one. I think that the strikeouts will eventually come, not at an elite level, but he should climb to respectability. Keep in mind age-to-level in the case of O'Sullivan. Mixed: No; AL: $2.

RELIEF PITCHERS

Mike Gonzalez - Gonzalez is finally back from a fairly lengthy rehab from his shoulder injury. Right now the O's are just easing him back, leaving Alfredo Simon in the closer's role, but don't be surprised if that changes in the next couple of weeks. Of course, the shoulder remains an issue, as does the fact that the O's aren't likely to provide a ton of save opportunities. Bid lightly. Mixed: $1; AL: $7.

J.J. Putz / Matt Thornton - Ever since Ozzie Guillen declared that the White Sox options are open regarding save chances, the White Sox have failed to provide a save opportunity to help us read the tea leaves. My guess is that Guillen will mix-and-match with Putz and Thornton, maybe just for a handful of games, before working Bobby Jenks back into the mix. Between Putz and Thornton, there's an ever-so-small edge to Putz because he's right-handed. Thornton has gotten saves this year, so that Putz has closing experience matters less here. Both - Mixed: $2; AL: $8 (though both are probably owned).

Anthony Slama - Slama's excellent K-rate at Triple-A Rochester has led a number of fantasy players to speculate whether he'll close, but barring injuries, it's unlikely to happen this year. First, there's the matter of Slama's control - he averaged over four walks per nine at Rochester, and chances are he'll get the typical rookie squeeze job by big league umpires. Beyond that, the Twins are in the thick of the AL Central race. It'll take more than a couple of bad outings by Jon Rauch to force the Twins to make a change, and even if that happens, it almost certainly won't go to Slama first. He's not a bad investment for the future, but temper your expectations for this season. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

Michael Wuertz - Andrew Bailey's back spasms have limited his availability, and Wuertz has picked up two saves in his place. Wuertz has come around recently after a rough start to the season while working his way back from a shoulder injury. His month of July has been far superior than his previous months, with a 1.29 ERA in nine appearances before Sunday. He isn't likely to approximate the utterly dominant reliever that he was last year, but he still is among the better AL set-up guys. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.

CATCHERS

Taylor Teagarden - Teagarden got the nod over Max Ramirez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to replace the injured Matt Treanor because of his defensive ability. I don't think that Teagarden is going to get much playing time to restore his fantasy value with Bengie Molina onboard for the remainder of the season. Look for him to get typical backup catcher work, getting “day game after night game” starts. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

CORNER INFIELDERS

Wilson Betemit - The Royals are talking about playing Betemit 5-6 times per week at third base, this after barely using him in the week preceding the Alberto Callaspo trade. I understand why they're doing it - they're essentially playing the hot hand, with Betemit hitting .382/.452/.676 coming into Sunday's play. But this is basically a short sample reaction to Betemit's 68 at-bats. It looks like Betemit is in a caretaker role until Mike Moustakas is ready for big league action. Thus he's a risk for playing time in September, despite his windfall now. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.

Alex Gordon - As Kevin Goldstein tweeted on Friday, Gordon's promotion ended the carping from many of us that clamored for it. Unfortunately, they still haven't found a way to call up Kila Ka'aihue (.307/.458/.581 at Triple-A), but the comparison shouldn't be between Gordon and Ka'aihue. Sunday's Royals lineup feature Wilson Betemit at first, Chris Getz at third and Rick Ankiel in CF, among others. Anyhow, Gordon has been used in RF and DH since his return, so it's pretty clear that the Royals don't intend to ever move him back to 3B, instead keeping the position in transition until Mike Moustakas is ready. I still think an opposing team needing a third baseman should make a bid for Gordon, but that's neither here nor there. At least now Gordon is up and it appears that he'll play every day. We'll see if they give him enough rope to play out the rest of the season - it's really one of their few imperatives at the big league level for the rest of the season - they absolutely must find out what he can offer before they make a decision on him this offseason, when he's out of options. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.

Jeff Larish - The Tigers suddenly have three roster spots to fill, thanks to injuries to Brandon Inge, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen. Guillen's appears to be the least serious, but given his history and the nature of calf strains, even that might last longer than the minimum 15 days. Look for the Tigers to do some mixing and matching with the likes of Scott Sizemore, Ryan Raburn, Ramon Santiago and Larish, though all four got into the lineup on Sunday with Johnny Damon nursing an illness. Larish has decent power despite not having much of a load in his swing, but he's a batting average risk due to his low contact rate (72-73% at Triple-A, 67% in the majors in 178 career at-bats before this year). When Damon gets back in the lineup, it might be Larish that plays less frequently among the four options. Mixed: No; AL: $2.

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Willie Bloomquist - Bloomquist hasn't yet benefited from the Alberto Callaspo trade - instead, it's been Wilson Betemit. Bloomquist was at one time thought to be a trade target, though it's hard to imagine him commanding much of a price. If he does fall into a situation where he's getting more at-bats, he might end up providing a little bit of cheap speed. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

Alexi Casilla - Orlando Hudson's trip to the DL opens up a timeshare for Casilla and Nick Punto at second base, with Danny Valencia getting the resulting playing time at third base. There's a lot of moving parts at work here, between Hudson's injury and Justin Morneau's concussion. Morneau probably won't be back at least for another week, leaving Michael Cuddyer to play first rather than move across the diamond to third. Casilla seemingly has been perpetually on this list, so we won't belabor the description - he can offer some speed, no power. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

Jed Lowrie - Lowrie's defensive ability is pushing Bill Hall back out to the outfield, especially after Hall committed two errors on Thursday at second base. Dustin Pedroia is still at least a couple of weeks away, so that could translate into decent playing time for Lowrie, who will also get a spare start here and there at shortstop. Lowrie is probably a better guy to eye for the future, though the Red Sox's signing of Marco Scutaro in the offseason even limits his keeper value. He's probably about on the same plane as Ramon Santiago right now - valuable because he's getting playing time. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

Wil Rhymes - Rhymes is a 27-year old that was used as a utility player for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, playing second, short and third. He's not going to offer much power, but his positional flexibility and speed might useful in deeper leagues. He's had 20 steals each of the last two seasons and 17 in 2008 at Double-A. He'll get the start in the nightcap of Sunday's doubleheader against the Jays, playing second base. I think he's going to get less playing time there than Ramon Santiago, barring a few hot games, though Santiago will also play more games at shortstop. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Ramon Santiago - Santiago has spent more time at shortstop than at second base, but he might get more games at second for the near term with Carlos Guillen back on the DL with a calf strain. The profile for Santiago remains the same - no power, little speed, but a good batting eye and a chance to hit for average. He's a rich man's Adam Everett. At least he'll get playing time. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

Scott Sizemore - Sizemore took to his demotion to Triple-A Toledo well, hitting .329/.392/.515 in 41 games there. One thing to note - Sizemore's running game hasn't yet returned since his ankle injury in the Arizona Fall League. After stealing a combined 20 bases at two levels last year, he hasn't attempted a major league stolen base yet and had just three attempts at Triple-A. He's now getting the lion's share of playing time at third base with Brandon Inge out, as Donald Kelly has aptly demonstrated that he's not an everyday player. Still, Kelly could cut into Sizemore's playing time pretty quickly if Sizemore doesn't hit right away. Moreover, Tigers scouts were watching Mike Lowell's rehab games this weekend, and a trade for a third baseman certainly is plausible. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

OUTFIELDERS

Rick Ankiel - Following the Alberto Callaspo trade, the Royals called Ankiel up from his rehab assignment. His playing time window immediately opened up with the unfortunate injury to David DeJesus, who is now out for the season. Ankiel can hit for power when he gets ahold of it, but he's a pretty significant batting average risk at this point in his career. He entered play on Sunday with a pretty gnarly 5:26 BB:K ratio, good for a 64% contact rate. His career rate is higher than that, but that was compiled in the NL. Anyhow, the Royals are more likely to trade Jose Guillen than they are Ankiel, so his playing time is surprisingly stable right now. Mitchell Maier is the guy that loses out as a result of Ankiel's return. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.

Ryan Raburn - Of the Tigers replacement players stepping into more at-bats as a result of their three big injuries, Raburn probably has the best chance of playing every day, current stats notwithstanding. Raburn's bat helped keep the Tigers afloat when so many other players went into the tank last August and September, and as a result has gained a measure of trust with manager Jim Leyland. His defense is fairly deplorable, yet that hasn't stopped Leyland from sticking Raburn out in center field again as late as this past week. Raburn has struck out more this year than last, but he's also run unlucky in terms of balls in play (.263). He might be a nice sneaky pickup in AL-only leagues. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.

Travis Snider - Snider's return from the minors has been delayed by the Jays' need for a spot starter on Wednesday, but he'll finally be back on Friday. How are they going to make room for him? Will Fast Edwin Encarnacion get benched, or will Fred Lewis sit? Lewis' ankle injury provides a convenient out for the Jays if they want it, though he played in the nightcap on Sunday night. Either way, it's an imperative for a team in the Jays position to play Snider regularly. Mixed: $5; AL: $15.

Dewayne Wise - Wise has filled in nicely for the injured Fred Lewis, but with Travis Snider coming back this week, Wise's run probably ends after three more games, if that. At this point in his career, Wise has been shoehorned into a fifth outfielder role - he'll occasionally start, pick up an odd stolen base or two, and otherwise be left to be a defensive replacement. There's no Andres Torres-like rise from the ashes arc likely here. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

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