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MLB Barometer: Slip-Sliding Away

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:

Mark Reynolds, 3B, BAL - Reynolds has started to heat up and now has five home runs over his last seven games. His batting average over nine June games is a decent .276 and his slugging percentage has improved 75 points. The Orioles have a solid lineup and there's legitimate evidence that Reynolds can continue to improve at the plate. He's infamously known for his strikeouts but he's cut that down by over 10 percent this year compared to last. His current .231 BABIP is a career-low by 26 points which means the .205 batting average will improve.

Mike Carp, DH, SEA - In a week that saw so many elite prospects promoted, I think Carp flew under the radar. He was tearing up Triple-A with 19 home runs, 58 RBI, six steals and a .353 batting average. While he's only played three games for the Mariners, he's shown patience with three walks in 11 plate appearances. Safeco is one of the worst hitter's parks but Carp shouldn't be completely sapped of his power considering left-handed batters fare much better than right-handed hitters. Considering the offensive struggles in Seattle, there's every indication the team will give Carp a long look. Keep an eye on teammates Carlos Peguero and Greg Halman as well.

Ty Wigginton, 3B, COL - With Jose Lopez now playing in New Orleans and Ian Stewart down at Triple-A Colorado Springs, Wigginton finds himself as the everyday third baseman for the Rockies. In case you haven't noticed, there have been 45 runs scored in the Rockies last three home games suggesting that Coors Field is playing like the hitter's park we've come to know. Wiggington hit 22 home runs in Baltimore last year with regular playing time so expecting a total of 20 at season's end is the floor not the ceiling here. Depending on your league's rules he probably has eligibility at multiple positions. Take a look to see if he's sitting on your waiver wire and stream him in when the Rockies are enjoying a homestand.

Carlos Lee, OF, HOU - Lee has shown there's still some gas left in the tank by batting .371 over 10 June games. The five home runs have been disappointing but his other stats - K%, BB% - are in line with his career norms. Expecting 20 home runs and 100 RBI aren't unreasonable expectations hitting cleanup for the Astros, especially with Jason Bourgeois and Michael Bourn hitting in front of him. Many owners didn't tolerate Lee's slow start so he may be available in most standard formats.

Injuries:

Jake Peavy, P, CHI - Peavy landed on the DL with a tweaked groin which isn't too bad considering he's only expected to miss a couple of weeks. He'll go on a minor league rehab assignment before returning to the big club. In many leagues he's hit the waiver wire due to the DL stint and therefore could be picked up in your league. Peavy was pitching like the Peavy of old before his DL stint and his .966 WHIP shows his 4.66 ERA was a little unlucky.

Brett Anderson, P, OAK - Anderson is in the process of determining what's wrong with his balky elbow, after getting blasted in his two previous starts (10.1 innings, 14 earned runs). Part of his elbow problem can likely be attributed to throwing his slider 44.3% of the time. The mechanics of throwing that pitch, especially with that frequency, puts a lot of strain on the elbow so this shouldn't be a complete shock that he's now dealing with an injury. No definitive diagnosis has been made but it's clear we won't see him take the mound anytime before the All-Star break.

Mike Napoli, C, TEX - A strained oblique will sideline Napoli at least for the next 15 days. Oddly, Napoli was able to play the entire game Saturday behind the plate. Oblique injuries tend to linger so don't be surprised if Napoli is out longer than the 15-day minimum. Taylor Teagarden (.326, nine homers in 86 at-bats at Triple-A) will take his roster spot and could be worth a look in AL-only/deeper formats.

Freddy Sanchez, 2B, SF - Sanchez suffered a separated shoulder, which didn't look good if you saw the play. The Giants immediately placed him on the DL and signed free agent Bill Hall who could see plenty of playing time with Sanchez out. This doesn't look like the type of injury that will only require the minimum 15 days so you should be looking to trade or pickup a second baseman if you lost Sanchez.

Check Status:

Joe Mauer, C, MIN - There are reports out today that Mauer could return to the Twins lineup as soon as this week. The Twins injury woes have been well documented this season so a healthy Mauer will be welcomed back with open arms.  

Alberto Callaspo, 3B, LAA - Callaspo hurt his hamstring Saturday and will be re-evaluated on Sunday. A trip to the DL is possible which shouldn't affect your fantasy team too much considering he wasn't making a huge fantasy impact this season (three homers, two stolen bases.)

Barry Zito, P, SF - Zito made his second minor league rehab start Saturday as he continues to build up his arm strength and pitch count. Unfortunately for his owners, he'll likely be the highest paid long-relief pitcher in the history of baseball upon his return to San Francisco. Bruce Botchy has already stated that Ryan Vogelsong has earned a spot in the rotation which will make Zito the odd man out.

Paul Goldschmidt, Colin Cowgill, ARI - GM Kevin Towers has declared that both prospects will likely be called up around the All-Star break. Towers cited the reason for the delay to be they want both to have everyday at-bats when they arrive. Cowgill would likely take over in left field, relegating Gerardo Parra to the bench. Goldschmidt (21 home runs, 44:51 K:BB ratio) would likely put Juan Miranda's job in jeopardy. These are two names to keep in mind over the next few weeks and remember an injury could expedite the timetable to the majors.

Downgrades:

Colby Lewis, P, TEX - Between Lewis and Ryan Vogelsong, I'm starting to think mediocre, middle-aged pitchers should take a season and go pitch in Japan. Take in the culture, discover your inner chi and return to the states as an All-Star caliber pitcher. However, Lewis has struggled over his last two outings giving up 15 earned runs over 4.2 innings. Yes, that means he's given up more runs than outs recorded. There are some red flags when you take a closer look at Lewis' stats. His fastball, which he throws over half of the time, is down 1.5 mph. As a result, he's recording a K/9 rate down over two Ks from last season. Next, he's getting killed by the long ball allowing 17 already this year after 21 total in 2010. Being a fly ball (51.4%) pitcher is not conducive to pitching in Arlington as 11 of the 17 homers have come at home where he has a 7.66 ERA. These last two outings are reminiscent of Brett Anderson's struggles, but worse. It'll be interesting to see how the Rangers handle him if he has a tough time against the Braves in his next start.

Justin Morneau, 1B, MIN - I almost put Morneau in the injury section since he's now dealing with an injured wrist that will keep him out until Tuesday. Even if he returns to the lineup this week there is little to be optimistic about for the rest of the season. He's playing with a pinched nerve in his left shoulder/neck which will linger all season. I can see a scenario where he gets shut down for good at some point once Minnesota throws in the towel. The pinched nerve or wrist may be the culprit for Morneau's .619 OPS, which is more than 400 points lower than what he did last season. If you own him hope he comes back and goes on a tear so he has some type of trade value.

You can follow on Twitter: @KCPayne26