Article first appeared 6/22/08
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:
Dan Giese - Giese got the first crack at replacing the injured Chien-ming Wang in the Yankees' rotation and pitched reasonably well in a losing effort on Saturday. Giese's 9:1 K:BB so far in 14 innings looks inviting, but this is more of an Aaron Small situation than a case of a legitimate prospect finally getting his chance. Giese has been bouncing around the upper minors since 2003 and has rarely been dominant at any of his stops. He might fill in adequately for a few starts, but he's not a long-term solution in replacing Wang. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Jeremy Guthrie - By reader request, we'll discuss Guthrie's merits, about one year after he came on the scene with the O's. His ERA, following Wednesday's superb performance against the Astros, is actually lower than last year, dropping to 3.51. He's a pitcher that relies more on command and defense than dominating opposing hitters, though, and his strikeout rate has actually dropped a little, going from 6.31 K/9 last year to 5.96 this year. Meanwhile, he's allowing more fly balls than last year, and the two trends might present an ominous sign. He's been unlucky in terms of his win-loss record, getting very little run support, but then again, that shouldn't be a surprise given that the O's are in a rebuilding phase. That process should continue at the trade deadline with Brian Roberts later this summer, so those run support issues could persist. Mixed: $5.
Ian Kennedy - Just a reminder that Kennedy is beginning his rehab assignment from his strained lat this week, and he could be a candidate to replace Dan Giese in the rotation eventually. It wouldn't be the worst solution in the world for the Yankees to keep Kennedy in the minors for a few more starts once he's ready to come off the DL, merely due to his lack of experience at Triple-A last year. His fate will largely rest on Giese's performance and whether the Yankees decide to trade for another starter in the wake of Wang's injury. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
John Parrish - Shaun Marcum's trip to the DL creates a spot in the starting rotation, one that will probably be filled by Parrish, who is 10-0 with a 2.83 ERA and a 86:34 K:BB in 76.1 innings at Triple-A Syracuse. One other option is Kane Davis. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
David Price - Price just got promoted to Double-A Montgomery by the Rays on Sunday. The 2007 overall first pick dominated at High-A Vero Beach, posting a 1.82 ERA and a 37:7 K:BB over 34.2 innings. Don't be surprised to see him with the parent club in September, and possibly sooner. Mixed and AL: $1.
Jeremy Sowers - Sowers is in the Indians' rotation for now, with Jake Westbrook out for the season and Fausto Carmona on the DL. Carmona has had a setback of sorts in his rehab, delaying his return and buying Sowers more time. The question is what will Sowers do with this opportunity? He's still too hittable, and allows too many fly balls and homers. If he keeps up at this pace, the Indians might not even wait until Carmona is ready to replace Sowers. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Miguel Batista - If you still had Batista on your roster, or worse, in your active lineup, you have Jerome Holtzman to blame. Holtzman created the save statistic to better reward the top relief pitchers in the game. As with many stats that have become adopted in the baseball world, saves have plenty of flaws. Batista once earned saves for a living, so now that he has a temporary window to close with Brandon Morrow hurt, and you pay the price for when he demonstrates that he can stink equally in a relief role as he did as a starter. You're probably just as well off gambling on Ryan Rowland-Smith (Sunday's outing notwithstanding) instead of trying to pay the price it would take to get Batista. Mixed: $0; AL: $2. Rowland-Smith - Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Masahide Kobayashi - Kobayashi picked up the save on Friday night in the 10th inning against the Dodgers after Joe Borowski blew the lead in the ninth. There's not a job security issue here for Borowski, but Kobayashi has probably established himself as the next in line should Borowski get hurt or implode. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Luis Mendoza - Don't be excited about the (S) in Saturday's boxscore next to Mendoza's name. It was one of the three-inning specials, after the Rangers opened up a wide lead over the Nationals. It wasn't quite the profile-in-courage that was Wes Littleton's save against the Orioles last year, but it's pretty meaningless. If you want to speculate on a C.J. Wilson collapse, consider Frank Francisco or Joaquin Benoit instead. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Jose Veras - Veras has started to fill a viable role in the Yankees' bullpen now that Joba Chamberlain is in the rotation. Kyle Farnsworth's injury on Sunday might even push Veras into a set-up role. He's averaging nearly a strikeout per inning, while walking only a third of those batters. The one weakness in his skill set is his propensity to give up flyballs and thus homers, with three homers allowed in 20.2 innings so far. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Joel Zumaya - The Tigers' bullpen is approaching their original projected form - sort of. Fernando Rodney's control has been off in his two appearances so far, and Zumaya allowed two baserunners and retired two batters in his season debut on Friday and should eventually take over the primary set-up duties. He's still their projected closer-in-waiting, for whenever they decide that Todd Jones is no longer fit for the role. That probably won't happen soon, even with Jones sporting the ever-stylish 10:11 K:BB ratio over 27.1 innings. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Jeff Clement - Clement finally broke through on Sunday with his first homer of the season, albeit well after the game was in hand. Still, it looks as if the Mariners are finally going to commit to playing him regularly, often behind the plate. Let's hope this trial lasts longer than two weeks, even if he struggles. He has nothing left to prove in the minors, and the Mariners have nothing left to play for this year except to see what they've got in a lot of their younger players. Expect Clement to get 250+ plate appearances the rest of the way. Mixed: $5; AL: $17.
Sal Fasano - Fasano is your stereotypical backup catcher - decent defense, some power, not much of a hitter for average. He'll give Cleveland a veteran backup for Kelly Shoppach while Victor Martinez is out. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Max Ramirez - Ramirez isn't your standard injury replacement catcher callup. He's a legitimate prospect that was absolutely raking at Double-A Frisco. The big question for him is whether Ramirez will stick behind the plate, or if his long-term position is either at DH or first base. He started at first base on Sunday. Check your league's eligibility rules to see where he's going to qualify - if you get him at catcher for this season, he's worth the look. Chances are he'll be up for about three weeks, until Gerald Laird is ready to return. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia - Gerald Laird's injury creates a big opportunity for Saltalamacchia, who has struggled in the timeshare with Laird. Salty will get the vast majority of the games behind the plate, even with the Rangers calling up Max Ramirez. This is his big chance to show he can handle the position defensively along with improving his hitting. This won't be his only trial, but it's a big chance for him to show that his long-term position is behind the plate. Mixed: $5; AL: $22.
Bryan LaHair - If the Mariners dispense with Richie Sexson as rumored, LaHair would likely get called up as a replacement, with the organization lacking too many other natural first basemen as alternatives. LaHair isn't a big prospect, but he could be useful if platooned. He hasn't helped his cause in the last 10 games, going 6-for-38 with 13 strikeouts. Mixed and AL: $0.
Erick Aybar - Aybar is back from the DL from his finger injury, but he isn't guaranteed the playing time that he had before his injury, when he was starting nearly every day at shortstop. At that point in time, Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick were on the DL, creating a spot for both Aybar and Maicer Izturis. Izturis, before getting hurt on Saturday, was hitting decently enough to claim at least a portion of the job. Izturis had a hamstring injury on Saturday night, however, and did not start on Sunday. Aybar's plate discipline is still lacking (2:20 BB:K), but he's capable of being a cheap stolen bases option. I grabbed him in the NFBC last week expressly for that purpose. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.
Alex Cintron - Meet the new starting shortstop for the Orioles, now that Freddie Bynum has been designated for assignment. Cintron is just the latest mediocre option for the O's until they find someone that they can anoint as their shortstop of the future. In past years he's been able to hit for average, hit for power, and steal more than an odd base or two, but never in the same year. He's also spent his career in two nice hitters parks in Arizona and for the Chicago White Sox. If you were a Bynum owner or otherwise need a fill-in middle infielder, he's probably better than Juan Uribe. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Willie Bloomquist - Bloomquist has gotten a few starts in center field recently, with the decision to move Ichiro Suzuki back to right field. He and Jeremy Reed are forming a platoon of sorts; Reed has the upside, but Bloomquist can provide mulit-position eligibility and stolen bases. Use only in the case of stolen base emergency. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Jonny Gomes - If you're in a mixed league of some depth and looking for a one-week pickup, consider checking to see if Gomes is available. The Rays play on the road in interleague play this week and face four lefties in their six games, meaning that Gomes will probably get those starts in right field. Gomes hasn't done a whole lot this year, but he's potentially a nice power/speed provider, presuming that you're willing to deal with the batting average risk. Mixed: $3.
Adam Lind - The Blue Jays started their overhaul process this week, firing manager John Gibbons and his coaching staff, though their situation isn't an exact parallel to the Mariners' one, sitting just five games under .500 after Sunday's win. Calling up Lind and replacing Kevin Mench is their first move, and frankly, it's long overdue. The Jays gave him all of 19 at-bats in his last trial, and it's awfully difficult for a young hitter to do well when he's constantly looking over his shoulder. If they're going to make any sort of run at all, they need to score a lot more runs, and they're not going to do that rolling out Brad Wilkerson. They might do it with Lind. Early indications from new manager Cito Gaston (yeah, it felt funny to write that, too) are that Lind will play nearly every day. Mixed: $5; AL: $17.
Jeremy Reed - The Mariners owe it to themselves to do right by Reed, a player that they've really buried the last couple of years. Like Jeff Clement, Reed has nothing left to prove at Triple-A and still has at least a semblance of upside. Their only priority right now has to be playing him, Clement and any young player in his position as much as possible, to decide whether they are going to be a part of their future, or just a role player. Every at-bat that they waste on someone like Bloomquist instead of Reed is a travesty. At least they have new management in place, which makes it possible for Reed to get that chance. Mixed: $1; AL: $6.
Dewayne Wise - Paul Konerko's trip to the DL created a minor opportunity for Wise to get the call from Triple-A Charlotte and split the center field duties with Brian N. Anderson in a platoon set-up. Nick Swisher meanwhile moves to first base. Wise homered on Saturday with the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field, but power generally isn't part of his game. Look for this to be a short-term engagement. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.