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MLB Barometer: Too Late to Buy Low

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

Upgrades:

Justin Smoak, 1B, SEA - It's easy to overlook the Mariners from a fantasy perspective after the historically bad offensive output last year. Many, including your truly, ignored most of the Mariners (outside of Ichiro Suzuki) due to the weak lineup and unforgiving home ballpark. Smoak is proving that to be a mistake and is off to a hot start. The key piece in the Cliff Lee deal last year (remember it was rumored that the Mariners had their choice between Jesus Montero and Smoak), Smoak heated up over the final 10 games by hitting three homers. This season he's got four home runs and 17 RBI already to go with a sparkling 18:14 K:BB ratio. While it's a small sample size, two of Smoak's home runs have come at home, in only 24 at-bats. It's realistic to think Smoak could hit 25 home runs this year to go with a .280-.290 batting average.

Fernando Salas P, STL - Ryan Franklin, Mitchell Boggs, Eduardo Sanchez, Trever Miller and now Fernando Salas looks like he is the closer. Tony La Russa has done fantasy owners no favors, keeping everyone watching the bullpen to see who is warming up for the ninth inning. It appears Salas is now the closer after successfully converting both of his save chances. Salas has the makeup to take the job and keep it for the rest of the season. He recorded 19 saves last year at Triple-A Memphis, posting a 44:9 K:BB ratio over 35.2 innings. He doesn't throw extremely hard as his fastball sits around 91 mph but has a plus changeup and slider to keep hitters off-balance. While La Russa could change his mind and go to a committee at any point, Salas looks like the guy for now.

Carlos Santana, C, CLE - Any window of opportunity to buy-low on Santana has quickly closed over the last three days after Santana homered in each game, including a walk-off Friday night. He continues to show an excellent eye at the plate sporting a 20:17 K:BB ratio. Santana's .198 batting average will eventually rise given his BABIP is only .194 (83 points lower than last year). One of the better catching prospects in the game, don't be surprised to see him pass Joe Mauer and challenge for the top spot among catchers for next season's drafts.

Philip Humber, P, CHI - Humber has been a nice surprise for the White Sox, considering you don't expect a 28-year-old to break out. Humber has allowed only four hits over his last two starts (14 innings) coming in New York and against the Orioles. His K rate (5.85 K/9) isn't overly impressive but he's getting the job done by limiting the home runs (only two allowed over 32.1 innings). His .212 BABIP suggests he's been a little lucky but his LOB% (66.2%) and GB rate (43.4%) are low compared to his norms in the limited time he's had in the majors.

Zack Greinke, P, MIL - He'll be back on Wednesday at Atlanta and reported that his rib injury has healed. Obviously, get him back into your lineup.

Evan Longoria, 3B, TB - Longoria is scheduled to return to the lineup Tuesday for the Rays. He's reported that his oblique injury is no longer a concern and should be close to 100 percent.

Check Status:

Coco Crisp, OF, OAK - One of the better base stealers in the game, Crisp has been dealing with a quad issue that's cost him the last three games but not been enough to warrant a trip to the DL. Before the hiatus, Crisp had been caught stealing in consecutive games, suggesting the quad could be to blame. He looks like he's ready to return to action soon and as long as he doesn't suffer a setback, he should be good to go for the upcoming scoring period.

Kevin Youkilis, 3B, BOS - Youkilis aggravated a hip injury that he's been dealing with which will keep him out of Sunday's contest. Youkilis, off to a slow start, looks like a risky play this week and should be benched in most formats as long as you have another viable option.

Jose Tabata, OF, PIT - One of the more pleasant surprises this season, Tabata exited Saturday's game early with tightness in his hamstring. I always take notice whenever a hamstring injury arises as they typically are one of the more limiting and reoccurring injuries. It looks like Tabata will miss at least a few games and should be benched to be on the cautious side.

Homer Bailey, P, CIN - Bailey finished his third rehab start and has given up only one run over 16.2 innings with 14 strikeouts. He threw 91 pitches in his last outing and should return to the rotation by the end of the week.

Injuries:

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, WAS - Zimmerman looks like he'll be one of the bigger fantasy busts this year after reports surfaced Saturday that he'll need surgery for a sports hernia. If the surgery takes place, look for him to be out for at least until June. Jerry Hairston Jr. and Alex Cora will handle third base duties until Zimmerman returns.

Pablo Sandoval, 3B, SF - Panda was on his way to a nice bounce-back season, swatting five home runs while batting .313. He came into the season trimmed down and seemed to have put any personal issues from a season ago behind him. A broken hand will keep him out for the next four to six weeks and the Giants will look for Miguel Tejada to slide over to third with Mike Fontenot filling in at shortstop.

Scott Rolen 3B, CIN - It was almost inevitable that at some point Rolen would land on the DL. The funny thing is I own him in a few different places because when he plays (20 HRs, 83 RBI in 471 ABs last year), he is productive. For now, he's on the shelf after dealing with a knot in the back/shoulder area. He is yet to start swinging a bat and it doesn't look like he'll be ready to come off the DL when eligible on May 6. Miguel Cairo will handle the hot corner while Rolen is out.

Jose Contreras, P, PHI - Contreras was doing a stellar job closing for the Phillies until a forearm strain landed him on the DL. Ryan Madson will handle closing duties while he's out and Brad Lidge has started to play catch. Look for Lidge to return sometime around the All-Star break. Contreras should be back in 3-4 weeks but may not return to closing if Madson proved capable of handling the job in the interim.

Downgrades:

Vernon Wells, OF LA - Wells is doing his best to make Alex Anthopoulos look like a genius. Not only did the Blue Jays GM unload Wells and his albatross of a contract, he may have “sold-high” on Wells at the perfect time. After hitting 31 home runs with a .273 batting average, Wells only has one dinger with a .174 batting average. He's striking out at a career high pace (20.2%) while walking at only a 4.3% rate. Despite moving to the stolen base-happy Angels, he doesn't have any steals either. At 32, I think it's too early to write him off but for now it's hard to recommend him.

Adam Dunn, DH, CHI - Dunn admitted this week that he returned too soon after having his appendectomy April 6 and it's shown at the plate. Dunn has gone 8-for-58 (.139) since his return and struck out a career high 41.3% this season. While he has two home runs, his power clearly isn't there right now as evidenced by his .107 ISO. There's no reason to think that Dunn won't turn it around eventually but he should be benched until he starts to show signs of life.

Brent Morel, 3B, CHI - Morel has struggled at the plate to start the season, batting .203 over his first 69 at-bats. What's most concerning is that he has shown terrible patience at the plate and hasn't drawn a walk yet. Don't be surprised to see him get sent down to work on his approach while Mark Teahen takes over Morel's starting gig.