The FAAB Factor-AL is our weekly look at the American League free agents you should be targeting with your acquisition budget. We have two goals for this article:
- Identify likely free agents and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
- Try to estimate how much of your free agent budget you should bid on them.
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:
- League size of 12 players (either AL or Mixed, we'll specify)
- 5x5 categories
- Each team has a $100 free agent acquisition budget.
Andrew Oliver, SP, DET - Oliver, ranked by MLB.com as the Tigers' second best prospect, was called up Saturday to start against the Red Sox. That game was rained out, so he'll make his first start of the year Sunday. With Phil Coke (foot) going on the DL this week, the Tigers needed someone to come up and serve as their fifth starter. Through 51.2 innings over nine starts at Triple-A Toledo this season, Oliver has posted a 3.31 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 49:20 K:BB ratio. As long as he's performing well, Oliver should stay up with the team for the duration of Coke's DL stint, which may only be two starts. He's especially valuable in keeper leagues that have enough depth to stash players, but Oliver's value in one-year leagues is a bit more tentative. Mixed: $4; AL: $6.
Brian Matusz, SP, BAL - Matusz (strained left intercostal muscle) is set to make his return from the DL Wednesday to start against the Mariners. It will be his first action of the season. Matusz went on the DL right as the regular season was getting under way. As a result, there's the chance he could still be available in some of your leagues. Check your waiver wires to make sure he wasn't dumped at some point over the last two months. Through 175.2 innings with the Orioles last season, Matusz posted a 10-12 record with a 4.30 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and 143:63 K:BB ratio. Brad Bergesen was optioned to Triple-A on Sunday to make room for Matusz' return. Mixed: $16; AL: $26.
Anthony Swarzak, SP, MIN - Swarzak stepped in to make a spot start in place of Francisco Liriano (shoulder) Saturday and shocked everyone by throwing a eight scoreless innings of one-hit ball. With Liriano hopeful that he'll be able to make his next start, Swarzak's run in the rotation may only have lasted as long as his eight innings, no-hit bid. AL-only leaguers may want to grab him as a speculative add this week in case Liriano's injury turns out to be more serious. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Alfredo Aceves, SP, BOS - We told you to put a bid in on him last week after he claimed Daisuke Matsuzaka's (elbow) spot in the rotation, yet he remains owned in only three percent of Yahoo! leagues. Therefore, I'm going to give this another try. Over 28.1 innings of work between the pen and rotation this season, Aceves has posted a stellar 2.22 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and 17:10 K:BB ratio. His strikeout rate should rise as he gets more starts, and we saw that trend starting in his second start out of the rotation this week. Through his first two starts in the rotation, he's given up just two runs and eight hits over 11 innings while posting an 8:4 K:BB ratio. With the Red Sox lineup destroying opposing pitching right now, Aceves is worth grabbing in mixed leagues. Mixed: $6; AL: $10.
Guillermo Moscoso, SP/RP, OAK - Moscoso was called up to start last Tuesday's game in place of Tyson Ross (oblique). He should get at least a couple more starts while Ross is out since the team has yet to set a timetable for Ross' return. Moscoso struck out 43 batters in 40.1 innings at Triple-A, making him a potentially good source of strikeouts. In his start Tuesday, Moscoso pitched six innings of shutout ball, giving up three hits and three walks while striking out three. Mixed: $3; AL: $6.
Andrew Bailey, RP, OAK - Bailey is expected to re-join the Athletics possibly as soon as Sunday. Though Oakland may try to ease him back into the closing role, he should find himself back in the saves game sooner than later. Manager Bob Geren is simply running short on patience with his other closing options, Brian Fuentes in particular. Bailey is owned in 82 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Feel free to take a gander at your league's free-agent pool to see if he's available, but don't be surprised if someone has had him resting in their DL spot all season. Mixed: $14; AL: $22.
David Purcey, RP, DET - Purcey was traded for the second time this season, this time being moved from the Athletics to the Tigers in exchange for second baseman Scott Sizemore. He'll be used in the Tigers' bullpen, serving in a middle-relief role. As a lefty, he could be used in specialty situations. Purcey isn't likely to factor into many decisions, and he's far away from being a candidate to close. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Chuck James, RP, MIN - James has found new life as a relief pitcher and has posted a 1.57 ERA with 37:9 K:BB ratio over 28.2 innings for Triple-A Rochester this season. With Glen Perkins and Joe Nathan on the DL and Matt Capps limited by a sore forearm, James could find himself in a big role in the Twins' bullpen. If you're making moves to get ahead of the curve and are willing to stash relievers on the off chance that they might yield some surprising value, James might be worth adding on the cheap this week. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Jon Rauch, RP, TOR - Rauch could be in line to take over the closer role for the Blue Jays after Frank Francisco blew the save Saturday. Francisco is the club's incumbent closer, but there's been talk of the team using a three-headed monster of Francisco, Rauch, and Octavio Dotel (with a dash of Jason Frasor thrown in for spice) to close out games depending on matchups. Rauch successfully shutdown Friday's game, making him the reliever with the most recent successful outing in a save opportunity. As a result, he's theoretically the likeliest reliever to get the next opportunity. I'm adding him in leagues that he's available and that I'm desperate for saves in. Rauch is currently owned in 34 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Mixed: $4; AL: $6.
Bobby Cramer, RP, OAK - Cramer was called up to give the Athletics another lefty arm in the bullpen after David Purcey was traded to the Tigers on Friday. He'll have limited value as a situational reliever. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
James Hoey, RP, MIN - Hong Kong Hoey, as I (and I alone) call him, was called up by the Twins on Friday to help fill out the team's hemorrhaging bullpen. Though he's pitched well in the minors this season, posting a 1.54 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 16:4 K:BB ratio over 11.2 innings at Triple-A Rochester, Hoey was rocked in his earlier stint with the Twins. Over 10 innings of work out of the pen, he was beat up to the tune or posting a 10.61 ERA and 2.46 WHIP. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Yoshinori Tateyama, RP, TEX - Tateyama was called up by the Rangers Monday, and he's already logged five innings of work this week. Over three appearances, he's earned a three-inning save and posted a 1.80 ERA with a 3:0 K:BB ratio. Through 21 innings at Triple-A Round Rock, Tateyama posted a 2.14 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 26:4 K:BB ratio this season. He's worth a speculative add as a platoon bullpen option in leagues with inning caps. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Craig Tatum, C, BAL - Tatum was recalled this week to serve as the backup catcher for Matt Wieters. He should get between 1-2 starts per week while he's up, but there's also the possibility that he'll be sent down late in the coming week when Derrek Lee is ready to return. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Conor Jackson, OF, OAK - Jackson has seen action at third base in four games this season and started there once. Though he won't earn eligibility at third in most leagues until he gets more action there, it's worth noting that the team could turn to him as their regular third baseman at some point this season. Like so many other Oakland hitters, Jackson spends the majority of his time hitting yawn-inspiring singles, but his career .275 average is 50 points higher than the career .225 that Andy LaRoche has hit in the majors and 20 points higher than the .255 that Kevin Kouzmanoff has hit in the majors. The sad part about the possibility of Jackson taking over the third base job in Oakland is that fact that he won't earn it based on his excellence but more so from their other third basemen's futility. This is just a heads up on Jackson possibly earning eligibility at third. If he's available in your league, and you want to make a speculative move here, feel free to make a bid for him. I'm personally going to wait until he gets a few more starts at third and edges closer to being eligible to use there. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Mark Reynolds, 3B, BAL - Reynolds started at first base Saturday. This is just a heads up to managers playing in leagues with liberal position eligibility rules.
Russell Branyan, 1B, LAA - Branyan's role with the Angels may change as the season progresses and the team has players return from the DL, but for the time being, he should see action at first against right-handed starters and get plenty of pinch-hit at-bats. He was terrible with the Diamondbacks this season, hitting .188 with only one home run and three RBI in 69 at-bats, but Branyan has enjoyed recent success with American League teams over the past few years. Branyan had 25 homers between the Indians and Mariners in 2010 and 31 home runs with Seattle in 2009. He has just a .243 career average in the majors, but you're not buying him for a high average - Branyan is hired muscle. You buy him for his potential to hit home runs and drive in runs. We're bidding conservatively on him this week with his role over the course of the season possibly be shaved into a limited shape, but we're definitely putting a bid in to try and grab him as a potential cheap source of power. Mixed: $6; AL: $14.
Danny Worth, 3B, DET - Worth was called up by the Tigers to help fill the void left by Scott Sizemore, who was traded to the Athletics. Ryan Raburn will take over the second base role that Sizemore was manning, but Worth could see work at multiple positions. The Tigers gave Don Kelley some time at third last week as the team is desperate to get some offense from second and third. Worth was hitting .270 with three home runs, 19 runs scored, and four steals through 31 games at Triple-A Toledo. He was starting at third down there, and he could battle for the third or second base jobs if he's able to hit consistently during his call-up. Then again, he could get sent back down in a matter of days. If you need a utility fielder right now, he's arguably worth a speculative add in AL-only leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Mike McCoy, 2B, TOR - McCoy was recalled Saturday, taking John McDonald's role as a utility man for the Jays. He was used as a sub Saturday and should get an average of about 10 at-bats per week while he's up. If you're desperately hunting for at-bats in a league with daily lineups, McCoy might have some purpose in your league. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Ryan Raburn, 2B, DET - Raburn will take over the everyday duties at second base with the Tigers trade of Scott Sizemore to Oakland on Friday. Danny Worth was called up to give the team depth at the infield positions, but Raburn is the guy to own now. The Tigers sat Raburn for four straight games in this past week as they opted to give other guys a look in the outfield. With the starter role at second, the potential everyone saw in Raburn as an everyday player is renewed. He's owned in only 27 percent of Yahoo! leagues as a result of his struggles. Raburn will have to produce to keep the job, but at least he's getting the opportunity to be an everyday player again. Through 145 at-bats this season, Raburn has hit .200 with four home runs, 15 RBI, and a steal. Mixed: $8; AL: $14.
Drew Sutton, SS, BOS - Sutton was brought up on April 20 to take the place of Jose Iglesias so the team would have a veteran to use off the bench in the middle infield. Through 37 games at Triple-A Pawtucket this season, Sutton was hitting .307 with five home runs, 26 RBI, and a 16:34 BB:K ratio. With Lowrie leveling off at the plate and committing a plethora of errors this season, the Red Sox could give Sutton some additional starts in the short-term. Sutton should be good for 2-3 starts in the coming week if you're desperate for middle infield at-bats. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.
Felipe Lopez, SS, TB - Lopez was called up earlier this week to give the team infield depth when Reid Brignac was placed on the bereavement list. During his time up, Lopez has only seen action in one game, and he's a candidate to get sent back down when Brignac returns to the team.
Sean Rodriguez, SS, TB - Rodriguez has started the last six games for the Rays with Elliot Johnson going on the DL and Brignac going on the bereavement list. In those six games, Rodriguez has hit 7-for-20 (.350) with three doubles and three runs scored. His good work at the plate this week could earn him a little more run from manager Joe Madden. I'm grabbing him on the chance that he finally puts together the kind of offensive production fantasy players have been hoping for since his time with the Angels. Mixed: $4; AL: $6.
Grady Sizemore, OF, CLE - Sizemore was activated from the DL Friday. Make sure he's in your lineups for the upcoming week.
Nelson Cruz, OF, TEX - Cruz was activated from the DL Friday. Make sure he's in your lineups for the upcoming week.
Josh Reddick, OF, BOS - Reddick was called up Thursday to take Darnell McDonald's (quad) place on the roster. Through 44 games at Triple-A this season, Reddick has hit .248 with 12 home runs, 29 RBI, and four steals. J.D. Drew has been missing time with a hamstring injury, giving Reddick an opportunity to play immediately, but Drew will be returning to the lineup for the second game of Sunday's double-header, limiting Riddick's potential going forward. He's shown a tremendous amount of pop at Triple-A this season and is drawing more walks. If anything flares up with Drew's hamstring Sunday, Reddick could see a good deal of action this week. He's worth a speculative add based solely on his potential to put a few balls over the outfield wall. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Jason Repko, OF, MIN - Repko was activated from the DL this week, but he's only seen spotty action so far. With Delmon Young healthy there won't be a lot of opportunity for Repko to get into the lineup. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.