Article first appeared 7/27/08
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:
Fausto Carmona - Carmona got bombed by the Twins on Saturday, giving up nine runs over 2.1 innings. The Indians handled his rehab strangely, giving him only one start as high as Double-A on his rehab assignment after a fairly lengthy absence. Saturday's results might be reflective of the notion that he'll need a few more starts to get back up to speed. Of greater interest is Carmona's long-term value. His K:BB is awfully scary, but he's had fantastic stuff this year and has a ludicrous 3.50 G/F. If you're looking for 2009 and beyond, take a quick peak at Carmona's owner's roster in your league and see if you can't work a trade to get him at a slight discount. Mixed: $5; AL: $15.
Zach Miner - Miner has quietly taken over the fifth starter's job for the Tigers and picked up two wins this week, but he's not a great bet for future investment purposes. He's pretty reliant on pitching to contact and hoping that they turn into groundballs, which isn't the best strategy anyhow with the Tigers' defense. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.
David Purcey - Purcey got the win on Saturday against the Mariners, replacing Jesse Litsch in the rotation. That's an awfully cushy start for Purcey's apparent full trial - with Litsch down and Dustin McGowan out for the year, Purcey and John Parrish should get an extended look. In the past, Purcey's control has always held him back, but he's held his walk rate down the last two minor league seasons. Is this a case of him finding a new skill, or just improving by a repeating a level? Whether you should find out on your roster or by witnessing from afar depends on how willing you are to take a chance - the results could be as good as Saturday, or as ugly as his first spot start of the season, against the Phillies. For gamblers only. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.
Anthony Reyes - If you're the Indians, sure, why not take a chance on Reyes? He's displayed a lot of talent and flashes of competence in the past, and it seems pretty clear that he needed a clean slate with a new organization. He'll begin in Triple-A Buffalo, but when Matt Ginter and Jeremy Sowers are the organizational hurdles in front of him, it's a reasonable bet to assume Reyes will get a shot at some point. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Clayton Richard - Richard got tabbed to replace the injured Jose Contreras in the rotation, and while he gave up five runs (four earned) in four innings, he did strike out seven while walking only one. He's had a good minor league campaign, going 12-6 with a 2.44 ERA in 19 starts this season for Triple-A Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham. He should get at least one more start before Contreras returns. Mixed and AL: $0.
Jarrod Washburn - Washburn has been rumored to go the Yankees and almost certainly will be traded before the deadline, though such a trade will likely be incumbent upon the Mariners taking on a large part of his remaining salary. Though he's lowered his ERA by over two runs in his last 10 starts, be wary. He's benefited from a good pitcher's park and has a paltry 5.32 K:9, while not inducing that many ground balls. That's not a good long-term formula. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Santiago Casilla - The A's haven't yet played "Who Wants to Trade Your Closer?" yet with Huston Street, but it's pretty clear that GM Billy Beane would be willing to move him for the right price, given his history of trading closers and the A's trades of Dan Haren, Rich Harden and Joe Blanton in the last seven months. Casilla is the likely candidate to step in as the new guy if Street is dealt. He had some problems when first coming back from the DL last month, but he's back to his old form, striking out a batter per inning. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.
Damaso Marte - Marte will get a chance to protect many more leads with his new team; alas, for his fantasy owners, it won't be during the ninth inning. He'll get some full eighth inning shifts, but more often than not he'll be used a lefty specialist. If you use holds, Marte will go back to be a good source, and his strikeout rate will continue to be high. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Jonathan Meloan - Though Meloan has been starting (and not well) at Triple-A Las Vegas this year, his future is most likely going to be in a big league bullpen. He's had some minor league success as a closer and is capable of turning in a lot of strikeouts per inning. With a little bit of success in the Indians' system, is possible he could ultimately pick up some save opportunities, perhaps as early as next year. Mixed and AL: $0.
Rafael Perez - Perez picked up a save on Friday after Masahide Kobayashi got bounced, but then gave up two runs in a tie game in the ninth to lose on Sunday. Kobayashi has given up homers in two of his last three outings and hasn't exactly been dominant yet effective. Sunday's outing for Perez reflects just how frustrating it's been to speculate on the Indians' bullpen this year, and why the team addressed it's future there in the Casey Blake trade, by adding Jonathan Meloan. Meloan probably won't get a chance soon and Kobayashi still has the closer's job, but Perez is worth a token stab. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Fernando Rodney - Rodney has replaced Todd Jones as the Tigers' closer, effective immediately following Jones' most recent blown save, his third blown save in his last seven attempts. Rodney got off to a wild start when he first came off the DL, but has improved considerably in his last handful of outings. He's been close to taking this role over before injuries shelved him in the past. Besides whether his arm can stay healthy, the big concern with Rodney is his control. If he's not walking the ballpark, he still has good enough stuff to miss a lot of bats. Mixed: $8; AL: $25.
Jamie Walker/Jim Johnson - Because Walker is currently on the DL, you might not be allowed to bid on him, but he's worth a look if you want to speculate that George Sherrill could be traded before the deadline. Jim Johnson has pitched better and might get the first crack, but Walker has some experience closing, and Johnson's 29:23 K:BB ratio isn't that encouraging. On the bright side, Johnson has induced a ton of ground balls (2.04 G/F ratio). Johnson - Mixed: $2; AL: $9; Walker - Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Ehren Wasserman - One of the big storylines for the White Sox this year has been their effective bullpen work, but that bullpen has taken a few hits lately. Scott Linebrink is on the DL, Matt Thornton has been bothered by a back injury, and Boone Logan's ERA has climbed over two runs in his last four innings. Wasserman fills in on the roster now for Linebrink, but he'll basically shuffle between Charlotte and Chicago. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Joel Zumaya - Zumaya left Sunday's game with a triceps injury, making it a moot point whether he'd attempt to replace Todd Jones as the closer, but he really hasn't had the results to justify getting the role anyhow. Zumaya hasn't come all the way back yet from his shoulder injury - prior to Sunday's game, he had a 16:15 K:BB in 16.1 innings. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Gerald Laird - Laird is back from his DL trip due to his hamstring injury, and is slated to start on an everyday basis behind the plate, supplanting Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who spit the bit in his chance to impress while Laird was out. That said, the Rangers are probable sellers at the deadline and are deep in catching prospects. Don't be surprised if GM Jon Daniels pulls the trigger if the price is right. Mixed: $4; AL: $15.
Brooks Conrad - Conrad's career has been a study in frustration. He led the minor leagues in extra-base hits with Triple-A Round Rock in 2006, but never got so much as a September callup from the Astros. He was stuck at the same level as a 27 year-old but moved to third base last year, and his production fell off completely. Now with the A's, Conrad is replacing Donnie Murphy as a utility infielder, and vying for playing time against Jack Hannahan and Wes Bankston, with both Daric Barton and Eric Chavez on the DL. Chavez's situation is looking increasingly bleak, so Conrad could get a shot to stick with the big league club the rest of the season, depending upon who gets sent down when Barton returns. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Josh Fields - Fields has been one of the bigger fantasy whiffs of the season after losing out to Joe Crede in spring training for the starting third base job. He's been hurt and then pretty mediocre at Triple-A Charlotte, hitting .248/.325/.450 in 222 at-bats there. Disturbingly, Fields' contact rate has regressed further this season, though how much of that is attributable to playing hurt is in question. Fields might not play every day while Crede is on the DL - Juan Uribe got the start at third on Sunday. Mixed: $1; AL: $7.
Ryan Garko - Part of the fallout from the Casey Blake trade is that Garko will go back to playing every day. When looking at the Indians' offensive woes, a lot of blame has been spread to Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Asdrubal Cabrera and the lack of a big bat in the outfield corners, but Garko has been a significant disappointment too. Garko's BABIP has fallen off significantly, and he's actually made more contact than last year, so some sort of turnaround could reasonably be expected. The big head-scratcher, though, has been the complete evisceration of his power - his slugging percentage has dropped nearly .135 points this season. Mixed: $7.
Andy Marte - Marte is the other big winner from the Blake trade. He has made some modest improvements since stepping into more playing time, but he's still an awfully long way from fulfilling his once bright prospect potential. Marte's once solid batting eye has evaporated since 2005, with him posting an awful 6:29 BB:K ratio. If you're trying to protect your batting average, look elsewhere, despite the boost in playing time. If you're in a desperate state and trying to make a run, then maybe he's worth the gamble for you as it is for the Indians. Mixed: $1; AL: $8.
Jed Lowrie - Lowrie has taken over the everyday shortstop duties with Julio Lugo on the DL, distancing himself from Alex Cora. He's going to be more useful in a simulation game than a strict roto game right now - he's not hitting for power or running, but he is getting on-base reasonably well, drawing five walks in his last seven games. Mixed: $3; AL: $12.
Coco Crisp - Crisp is getting more regular playing time lately, thanks to Manny Ramirez's real or perceived injury and Jacoby Ellsbury's struggles. It's not as if Crisp is doing a whole lot with that playing time, but he's capable of being a good stolen base source if this playing time keeps up. Mixed: $5.
Andy Gonzalez - Gonzalez has a roster spot with the Indians for now, in the wake of the Casey Blake trade, but they're unlikely to give him much of a chance of winning a job. His numbers at Triple-A Buffalo were pretty uninspiring - .242/.340/.360. He does qualify at both OF and third base. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Mitchell Maier - Jose Guillen got hurt on Saturday night, Mark Teahen is playing through a back injury and Joey Gathright is on the DL, so Maier is potentially in line for a good amount of playing time for the next week or two. He was on a tear at Triple-A Omaha before the callup, but keep in mind that he's a 26 year-old repeating at Triple-A for his second full season. He's useful as a short-term pickup, but his ceiling is pretty low. Mixed: $1; AL: $7.
Xavier Nady - There's a chance that a bigger name could come to the AL during the week, but if you have a Sunday night free agent deadline, don't take the chance on passing him up for the next big thing. Nady is hitting righties better than he has at any point in his career, but he might not be asked to do as much for the Yankees. The change in ballparks doesn't hurt him as much as it would other players coming to Yankee Stadium, as PNC Park traditionally has been tough on righties also. AL: $30 - but don't be afraid to spend your max to win the bid, if you need another productive bat.
Eric Patterson - Patterson replaces Matt Murton on the roster and in left field, and hit in the leadoff spot on Sunday against the Rangers. Prior to this year, Patterson had distinguished himself from his older brother Corey Patterson by being a more patient hitter, albeit one with less upside in terms of power. He was hitting for good average between Iowa and Sacramento in the PCL, but his batting eye has dropped off, drawing only 17 walks in 275 plate appearances. If he can regain his patience, he might be useful for a few runs and stolen bases, though he might not have the same green light with the A's that he had with the Cubs. Mixed: $3; AL: $15.