Article first appeared 4/6/08
This is our weekly look at the free agents in each league. We have two goals with this article:
One size doesn't fit all, and we could never hope to encompass all league structures, so we have to have a set of base assumptions. Those assumptions are:
Miguel Batista - Batista picked up the first Mariners save after the J.J. Putz injury, but that was only because his first start, as the fifth starter, was still a few days away. He'll continue to work out of the starting rotation, where he's really only useable at home against weaker offenses like Oakland, Minnesota and Baltimore (and even then, he didn't do so well against the Orioles this week). Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
John Danks - We'd like to see Danks miss a few more bats, but there's clearly some talent at work. He induced a lot of groundball outs in his season debut against the Tribe. That's a skill he's going to need to repeat if he wants to succeed in The Cell. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Livan Hernandez - The Twins' Opening Day starter, Hernandez is off to a 2-0 start with a 2.57 ERA. Temper your enthusiasm, though - neither lineup he faced (Angels, Royals) is that potent, and he has a grand total of three strikeouts in his two starts. He's going to be ready to kill your WHIP really soon. I'd rather have Carlos Silva (see below). Mixed: $1; AL: $5
Carlos Silva - Silva might very well be a nice home-field play in mixed leagues, though if you have him in an AL league, you're probably going to be forced to use him in many spots. With Erik Bedard getting pushed back a couple of days, Silva has a nice two-start week coming up. He has a road start at Baltimore, and then a home start against the Angels. Mixed: $5; AL: $11.
Jake Westbrook - Westbrook was the hard-luck loser in his season debut, but he's the type of pitcher who might take a step up this year, with the improved defense at second base from Asdrubal Cabrera. Westbrook consistently generates so many grounders that he'll profit more than other pitchers on the Cleveland staff. He was picked up in a few mixed leagues that I've observed over the last week, but long gone in AL leagues. Mixed: $5.
Edwin Jackson - Jackson worked out of some early trouble in his 2008 debut to hold the Yankees to one run over six innings, picking up the win. Jackson got off to a terrible start in 2007, but pitched much better after the All-Star break, with seven quality starts in 12 appearances. Be careful not to write him off - he's still just 24 years-old. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Jason Hammel - Hammel's 2008 debut has been pushed back to Monday thanks to the Rays' rainout earlier in the week. He temporarily is the fifth starter for the Rays, but that will end once Scott Kazmir goes on the DL. Still, he has two starts this week, with one of them at Yankee Stadium but the other at home against the Orioles. For thrill-seekers only. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Nick Blackburn - Blackburn's spot in the Twins' rotation is tenuous, with Francisco Liriano likely coming up from the minors soon, but there's a chance that Kevin Slowey could go on the DL if things don't go well for Tuesday's throwing session. Blackburn's stuff isn't necessarily dominant, but at the same token, his control, like many Twins pitching prospects, is superb. Use him carefully. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Nick Adenhart - If your league allows for speculative minor league pickups, you might consider Adenhart. He had a nice Triple-A debut this week, which juxtaposed against Dustin Moseley's mediocre outing against the Rangers looks even better. A few more similar starts by each might result in a change before John Lackey is ready to return. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Dana Eveland - Eveland's two big hurdles in the past have been his health (and his conditioning hasn't helped that matter) and his command. He won the A's fifth starter job out of spring training and was dominant against the Indians in his first start of the season, striking out seven in seven innings. Not every start will go as smoothly, but he's a nice cheap source of strikeouts, and could be an effective home start pitcher. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Mark Lowe - Lowe was charged with the blown save in Sunday's loss to the Orioles, coming in with a one-run lead and two-out in the ninth, giving up two singles and a wild pitch. The usage here is interesting - the Mariners didn't have Lowe begin the inning, because three of the four Orioles due up in the ninth were lefties, so Eric O'Flaherty started off the inning. That underscores just how tenuous Lowe's closer title is. Brandon Morrow isn't eligible to return from the DL until the end of next week, but the urgency to bring him back just picked up. Mixed: $5; AL: $13.
Sean Green - The Mariners' bullpen seems to be evolving into a bit of a closer committee while J.J. Putz is out. Green has drawn a few bids, but his component numbers are somewhat uninspiring. He walked a batter every-other-inning last year, and is off to a wild start this year. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Eric O'Flaherty - O'Flaherty started the ninth inning on Sunday, with the O's putting up three lefties among the first four hitters due up. He wasn't able to close the deal, and in fact hasn't been terribly effective this year. Don't chase. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Matt Albers - Albers has started the year with two really nice relief outings, throwing 4.1 scoreless innings. He was in competition for the fifth starter's job and could very well end up in the rotation. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Dennis Sarfate - One thing to look out for with teams like the O's is to see which young arms start to emerge. George Sherrill's job is by no means in danger, but it's good to know what the alternatives are. In addition to how well Matt Albers has pitched, Sarfate has had two good outings with the O's after Sunday. He also pitched well in a brief trial with the Astros last year, though during his professional career his command has been a problem. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Lenny DiNardo - DiNardo might get a spot start if Justin Duchscherer's biceps tendinitis keeps him out. You can find better options, particularly against the Blue Jays and Dustin McGowan. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
John Buck - He's listed here as he was picked up in one of the mixed leagues that I follow, but the timing for him isn't exactly apt, with Miguel Olivo returning from his four-game suspension. If you're in an AL league, he's tolerable as a cheap power play, but in a mixed league there are better sources that are less likely to destroy your batting average. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.
Shawn Riggans - If you're looking for a short-term catcher, Riggans might actually be better than Buck. He's filling in for the Rays while Dioner Navarro is on the DL, and he's demonstrated a little bit of pop at the plate. After Navarro returns, Riggans should stick around as his caddy, maybe making him one of the nicer AL backup catchers. Mixed: $1; AL: $6.
Eric Hinske (OF-eligible also) - Hinske picked up a rare start at third base this weekend and has gotten some of the playing time not already gobbled up by Nathan Haynes in the outfield. He's not going to be a mainstay for the Rays, and might even get squeezed out once they call up Evan Longoria. Nonetheless, he still has a little bit of power and hits in a pretty decent lineup. You could do worse when finding an injury replacement. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Matt Tolbert - Tolbert picked up a few extra games with Brendan Harris out with the flu, and then started at shortstop in place of Adam Everett on Sunday. He can play all over the field, but the time is now for him - he'll be a 26-year-old rookie after his May 4 birthday. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Clete Thomas - Just who is Clete Thomas? He earned the final roster spot this spring and has parlayed that into extra playing time with injuries to Curtis Granderson, Gary Sheffield and the nagging injury to Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers traded away a lot of their depth in the offseason, moving Thomas up the ladder. He's even bypassed Ryan Raburn, who played well in a brief trial last year, but has been sent down to allow the Tigers to carry a whopping eight relievers in their bullpen. He had 52 stolen bases in the minors over the past two seasons. Mixed: $0; AL: $5.
David Murphy - Murphy is simply hitting everything hard right now, and making it difficult for the Rangers to give any sort of playing time to Marlon Byrd, Frank Catalanotto and especially Jason Botts. He did this also after coming over to Texas in the Eric Gagne trade last year. It won't last, but with the Rangers coming home next week, he's not a bad guy to try to ride the hot hand with. He even homered against Angels lefty Darren Oliver on Saturday night, toward one of the deeper parts of Angels Stadium. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Alexei Ramirez - I'm still trying to figure out what to make of Ramirez. He was the buzz of many scouts in the early part of spring training and won the Opening Day starting center field job after Jerry Owens went on the DL. But there's no really reliable statistical record on him from his playing days in Cuba, he doesn't have a set position and he hasn't played the last three days. I'm hoping that he plays in the Sunday night game so that I can see him play, but with Carlos Quentin holding his own out there, there's no guarantee. He's almost certainly already owned in AL leagues, so we'll just list a mixed league bid of $5.
Joey Gathright - After Sunday's 0-for-4, Gathright's batting average has dropped to .167. In terms of what Gathright's capable of doing, his average is pretty meaningless, but it might prompt the Royals to bring back David DeJesus as quickly as possible, maybe as soon as Tuesday's home opener against the Yankees. Despite the low average, Gathright already has two stolen bases. Still, we're giving him a low bid because of the likely playing time concerns. Mixed: $1; AL: $7.
Denard Span - Span got the call after Michael Cuddyer's injury landed him on the DL. At first appearance, it looks like he's going to get some decent playing time in right field. He'll offer some cheap steals, but that's about it. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.