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.
Graham Godfrey, SP, OAK - Godfrey made his major league debut Friday, taking Brett Anderson's (elbow) spot in the rotation. He pitched 4.1 innings, giving up five runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out two. Godfrey was pitching well in the minors this season, which earned him the call-up, but he's never been considered a big prospect in the A's system. Through 50.1 innings at Triple-A this season, Godfrey had a 2.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 45:14 K:BB ratio. Issues with control limited him in the past, but his low walk rate this season indicates he's corrected some of those mistakes. If he's able to find a comfort zone in the majors and stay composed enough to replicate the control he was mastering in the minors this season, Godfrey could be a decent back-end option for the A's rotation. It's worth making a speculative pickup on him this week, if you need help with your starting pitching in deep mixed and AL-only leagues, but don't be surprised if he gets optioned back to Sacramento in the near future. Bobby Cramer was originally projected to be taking the starting spot that Godfrey was given. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Vincent Mazzaro, SP, KC - Welcome back! Mazzaro made his return to the majors Tuesday, three weeks absent from the record setting 14-run, 2.1 inning relief effort against the Indians on May 16. He returned carrying a 22.74 ERA through 6.1 innings in the majors this season. In contrast, Mazzaro has posted a 4.06 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and 42:20 K:BB ratio through 44.1 innings at Triple-A Omaha this season. He's not nearly as bad as his efforts in the majors have painted him this season, but he also hasn't proven to be good enough to risk rostering in most leagues. Looking to make an impression and change fans' perception of him in his return Tuesday, Mazzaro was once again mediocre at best. He gave up six earned runs on eight hits and a walk over five innings of work. Mazzaro has allowed a home run in all three of his appearances in the majors this year. Perhaps the most laughable result from Mazzaro giving up six runs Tuesday is that it actually lowered his ERA from 22.74 to 17.47. This guy's stuff is too hittable for the majors right now. For those of you playing in leagues so deep that every starting pitcher needs to be rostered, he's worth picking up, because the Royals have shown a willingness to keep throwing out subpar pitchers all season. Another bad start Sunday could get him optioned back to Omaha, so watch that if you're considering bidding on him. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Francisco Liriano, SP, MIN - Liriano was activated from the DL this week and started against the Indians for the Twins on Tuesday. He did well in his return, giving up zero earned runs on three hits and three walks while striking out seven. Though he's had a disappointing season, posting a 5.20 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, and 41:35 K:BB ratio in 53.2 innings, Liriano's successful seasons in the past (3.62 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 201:58 K:BB through 191.2 innings in 2010) are reason enough to make a grab for him in any mixed leagues that he's been dropped. He's currently owned in only 79 percent of Yahoo! leagues. With his upside, I'm grabbing him wherever he's available and rolling the dice with him for a couple weeks. Mixed: $20; AL: Not available.
Casey Janssen, RP, TOR - Janssen put himself on the hype machine earlier this week when he picked up a save against the Royals on Wednesday. Jon Rauch (lat muscle) was unavailable to pitch Wednesday, and the team opted to give Janssen the save opportunity over Frank Francisco or Octavio Dotel for some reason. The Jays haven't had any more save chances since Wednesday, but Rauch has been available and will be used in the next opportunity. If you're poaching for saves and have the flexibility to stash Janssen, he's worth a speculative add. However, I'm not lining up to try and discern who gets the saves behind Rauch right now, certainly not as far as Janssen is concerned. There are simply too many potential saves guys to waste a roster spot on someone with a 33 percent chance of poaching a save. It's not worth the effort, and as a betting man, the odds stink. Mixed: $0; AL: $0.
Russell Martin, C, NYY - Martin missed four games this week with tightness in his back suffered while working out Tuesday, but he's back in the lineup Sunday. Make sure you have him activated for the week ahead as long as he's able to make it through Sunday's game okay.
Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC - Moustakas earned his call-up to the Royals on Friday and quickly made an impression. I grabbed him in a hometown league after his call-up was announced late Thursday and had a trade offer for him in my inbox when I woke up the next morning. There's been a lot of hype built around the 22-year-old slugger, and he's done his best through his first two games in the majors to justify that hype. In his first major league at-bat Friday, Moustakas swung at the first pitch he saw, just missing on a pitch low and away and sending it flying out to left field for an out. It was a quick at-bat, but his power was evident even on a fly out. He finished his debut going 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored, and on his second day in the bigs, Moose made his name ring out like Marlo Stanfield by shooting the first home run of his major league career over the wall in right-center. Through 223 at-bats at Triple-A Omaha this season, Moustakas hit .287 with 10 home runs, 44 RBI, and 15 doubles. Manager Ned Yost said Moustakas was called up to play six days a week at third base. He's up for the long haul and can be bought as such. If you need corner infield help, Moustakas has the talent and will get the playing time to be a legit contributor worthy of playing every day in even shallow mixed leagues. I'm buying big in one-year leagues in which I need a third baseman, and I'm buying like a crack fiend in need of an eight ball in keeper leagues. Mixed: $35; AL: $50.
Adam Rosales/Scott Sizemore, 3B, OAK - Rosales was activated from the DL this week, and Sizemore was called up from Triple-A. They'll share time at third, taking over the timeshare that the recently optioned Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andy LaRoche were sharing. Sizemore has started three of the last five games, and Rosales has started two of the last five. They've both started against righties and lefties. This is panning out to be an equal timeshare. Whoever is hitting better will play. They're both tragically perfect fits for the A's roster. Both hit well but lack any true power. Leave them alone in mixed leagues, and grab them as 3-4 start players in AL-only leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Don Kelly/Danny Worth, 3B, DET - Kelly is getting more starts than Worth right now as a result of manager Jim Leyland using the two players in what appears to be a definitive lefty/righty timeshare. Kelly is getting all the starts against righties, making him the more valuable player right now. While neither seem likely to get regular enough playing time to be of use in most mixed leagues, but have some value in AL-only leagues. Don Kelly, Mixed: $0; AL: $2. Danny Worth, Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Cord Phelps, 2B, CLE - Phelps is expected to get the bulk of the playing time at second base against right handed pitchers. He'll be in a standard righty/lefty platoon with Orlando Cabrera, which should give him between 3-5 starts per week. Through 211 at-bats with Triple-A Columbus this season, Phelps hit .299 with seven home runs, 40 RBI, and two steals. He's got a good bat for a middle infielder. I like his plate work better than Weeks (profiled below), but Weeks may have more value if he's able to secure the everyday role for the Athletics. If you need middle infield help, I'd be buying one of these guys this week. It might be best to throw bids out on both and then see where the chips fall over the next few weeks. One thing to keep in mind with Phelps is the fact that any struggles he has in the majors could earn him a demotion with the team possibly eyeing to call-up their top second base prospect, Jason Kipnis, sometime this season. Such a move could hurt Phelps' value down the road. Mixed: $0; AL: $7.
Luke Hughes, 2B, MIN - Hughes most have ate his spinach while he was in the minors, because he's returned to the Twins as a much stronger hitter in his second stint with the team. Through 25 at-bats since he was recalled, Hughes at hit .360 with three doubles and seven runs scored. In the seven games he's started since his return, the Twins have went 5-2. Hughes has raised his average from the .211 he had when sent back to the minors to a more respectable .250. If you're looking for middle infield help, the 26-year-old Hughes should be a good start in AL-only leagues as he appears to have secured the starting second baseman job for the Twins. As long as he continues to hit, he could keep his job even after Tsuyoshi Nishioka (leg) returns, as the team is planning on using Nishioka at shortstop. Mixed: $0; AL: $8.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS/2B, MIN - Nishioka is slated to return to the Twins in the middle of the coming week, and the plan is to start him at shortstop going forward. His struggles to start the season and a broken leg that sent him to the DL have left Nishioka owned in only 15 percent of Yahoo! leagues. The 26-year-old rookie has the ability to hit for moderate power and has above average speed. If you're looking to make a grab on a player with decent upside, Nishioka might be a good fit for your team. He should play every day, giving him plenty of opportunity to produce. Mixed: $8; AL: $15.
Marco Scutaro, SS, BOS -Scutaro returned from the DL Tuesday and has been producing at the plate. He was pushed aside earlier this season when Jed Lowrie got off to a torrid start at the plate, but Lowrie has done little to deserve starting over Scutaro since Scutaro went on the DL. He'll probably get 3-5 starts a week going forward as the team uses Scutaro and Lowrie to spell their other infielders. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Jemile Weeks, 2B, OAK - Weeks, the younger brother of Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks, was called up on Tuesday and has started all five games at second base since joining the team. Initially, he's being considered an injury replacement while Mark Ellis (hamstring) is on the DL, but with Ellis hitting .211 through 209 at-bats this season, the team will have to consider committing to Weeks as their everyday second baseman as long as he's hitting well. The combined futility of their offense and defense is simply too horrendous to do otherwise. The 24-year-old Weeks was hitting .321 with three home runs, six doubles, four triples, 22 RBI, and 10 steals at Triple-A Sacramento before his call-up. In his first five games in the majors, Weeks has continue swinging a hot bat, hitting .353 (6-for-17) with a double, two triples, and a 1:1: BB:K ratio. He doesn't have enough power or speed to justify ownership in most standard mixed leagues, but he needs to be universally owned in AL-only leagues for being a live second base bat. Mixed: $0; AL: $7.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX - Kinsler was activated from the paternity list Saturday. Make sure he's in your lineups for the week ahead.
Elliot Johnson, SS, TB - Johnson was activated off the DL Saturday, and he should jump right back into the mix at shortstop with Reid Brignac continuing to struggle at the plate. Prior to going on the DL, Johnson was hitting .258 with two home runs, eight RBI, and four steals through 66 at-bats. It wouldn't be surprising to see the team give him 4-6 starts a week as long as he continues to produce. Mixed: $1; AL: $7.
Mike Carp, 1B/DH, SEA - Carp is scheduled to play 3-4 days a week as a part of the left field/DH rotation for the Mariners. He isn't going to be handed an everyday job out of the gates, but with Carlos Peguero's talent for striking out and Jack Cust's homer drought, we wouldn't be surprised to see the 24-year-old masher steal a starting job. There's legitimate concern whether Carp can carry a high average in the majors, but he's gotten the job done in the minors this season. Through 224 at-bats at Triple-A Tacoma this season, Carp has hit .353 with 19 home runs, 58 RBI, and six steals. True to his word, manager Eric Wedge has given Carp three starts coming into Sunday's game against the Tigers. Through those first three games, Carp has hit .250 (2-for-8) with a double, three walks, and two strikeouts. I'm taking a flier on the big bopper based on his absurd numbers at Triple-A this season and Peguero's all-or-nothing hitting approach at the plate. I simply can't see Wedge putting up with Peguero's black-hole plate approach as long as Carp is having quality at-bats. Mixed: $0; AL: $.3
Greg Halman, OF, SEA - Halman will earn the occasional start in left field as part of a time share with Carlos Peguero and Make Carp, but he's supposed to get most of his action as Franklin Gutierrez' backup in center field. He's a lot like Peguero in that he can hit for power but strikes out a lot. Halman has done well through his first 18 at-bats, hitting .444 with a triple, but he's also failed to record a walk while striking out four times. Wedge has started him each of the last three games heading into Sunday, so it's worth making a speculative grab on him in AL-only leagues on the chance that he stakes a claim to the starting left field job, just don't be surprised if the 23-year-old's average takes a sharp drop at some point. He's just a career .246 hitter in the minors. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Justin Ruggiano, OF, TB - Ruggiano appears to have laid claim to a platoon job rotating between all three center field positions and starting against all right-handed pitchers. Due to a quirk in the schedule, the Rays have faced right-handed pitchers for each of the last five days, giving Ruggiano five consecutive starts. While we don't have a game to confirm it, Ruggiano will likely be sitting against lefties since he has a .164 career average through 55 at-bats against lefties in the majors. Grab him in deep mixed leagues and AL-only leagues if you're looking for outfield help for 4-5 games a week. He has good speed and power, but he's not a plus player in either category. Through 146 at-bats at Triple-A Durham this season, Ruggiano had a .301 average with six home runs, 30 RBI, and 11 steals. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Vernon Wells, OF, LAA - Wells was activated from the DL Tuesday. Make sure he back in your lineups for the week ahead. His epic struggles, and a DL stint, have reduced Wells' ownership in Yahoo! leagues to 39 percent as of Sunday. However, as long as he's hitting in the middle of the Angels' lineup, he deserves to be owned in far more leagues. Mixed: $12; AL: $16.