This is our weekly look at the free agents in each league. 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 FAAB budget
Jarrod Parker, A's - Rumor has it that Parker could be called up this week to replace Graham Godfrey in the A's rotation after Godfrey was sent back to the minors on Saturday. If Parker does indeed come up, he'll be facing the White Sox at home. So far this season in four starts at Triple-A Sacramento, Parker has a 2.50 ERA with 17 strikeouts and 4 walks over 18 innings. Last season in 26 starts at Double-A Mobile, he had a 3.79 ERA with 112 strikeouts and 55 walks over 130.2 innings. While I love the home park and the division, I wouldn't rush to add Parker in mixed leagues as he has limited experience past Double-A and still needs work on his control. In AL only leagues, you might as well bid considering Parker has more talent than almost every other starter you'll find on your waiver wire. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.
Tyson Ross, A's - Ross was called up this week to face the Angels and he delivered six innings of 2-run ball with three strikeouts and no walks. The three strikeouts are no fluke as Ross hasn't shown an aptitude to miss bats as a starter. Last season in 31 innings as a starter he had a 2.61 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 9 walks. He'll likely stay in the A's rotation until Dallas Braden (shoulder strain) can make it back. Best-case scenario, Ross gives you a nice ERA and WHIP for the next couple of weeks, while tossing in a few strikeouts and perhaps a win. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Drew Hutchinson, Blue Jays - Hutchinson was called up this week from Double-A New Hampshire to face the Royals in Kansas City and the results were less than impressive. He gave up five earned runs with four strikeouts, three walks, and two home runs allowed over 5.1 innings. He has always shown great control in the minors, so perhaps the three walks can be attributed to debut jitters. It's tough to say how Hutchinson will fair long-term in the majors as he has only spent 31.2 innings above High-A ball. For now he'll serve as the team's fifth starter until Dustin McGowan returns. In AL-only leagues, I would look elsewhere for starting pitching help. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Nick Blackburn, Twins - Blackburn will get another start this week, after having his turn skipped in the rotation as he dealt with shoulder soreness. So far he has a 5.56 ERA with six strikeouts and three walks over his 11.1 innings pitched. For those unfamiliar with Blackburn, this is about what you can expect from the righty - he doesn't miss many bats and if his control is off, it's going to be a long game. Against the Red Sox this week, I'd leave Blackburn for the vultures. Last season he posted a 4.49 ERA over 148.1 innings with 76 strikeouts and 54 walks. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Jason Marquis, Twins - Marquis was recalled from Double-A New Britain this week to make his season debut in New York and things went about as well as one could have hoped. He gave up four earned runs over five innings with three strikeouts and two walks. Last season between the Nationals and the Diamondbacks he posted a 4.43 ERA with 76 strikeouts and 43 walks over 132 innings. At this point in his career, Marquis is useless to fantasy owners unless he has control of his pitches because he won't miss many bats. Up against the Red Sox and Royals this week, I'd opt not to use to Marquis. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Philip Humber, White Sox - Humber will certainly be a name everyone is talking about, after his perfect game on Saturday afternoon. He's currently not owned in many mixed leagues, but that probably won't last for long. In terms of skills, he has good control, but needs to work on missing bats. If he can start to throw his curveball consistently like he did yesterday when he generated seven swinging strikes, he might have found a solution. Last season he posted a 3.69 ERA and struck out 116 batters with 40 walks over 161 innings as a starter. There's potential for profit here. Mixed: $8; AL: Owned.
Boone Logan, Yankees; Tom Wilhelmsen, Mariners; Cory Wade, Yankees; Luis Perez, Blue Jays; Tim Collins, Royals; Steve Delabar, Marines; Joaquin Benoit, Tigers; David Robertson, Yankees; David Phelps, Yankees; Jairo Asencio Indians; Vinnie Pestano, Indians; & Jesse Crain, White Sox - This is the list of relievers that have more than 10 strikeouts (I had to draw the line somewhere) this season. I put them here because middle relievers can be more valuable than some realize in deeper leagues. I'm not saying all of these guys will pan out to be gold, but they're worth a look if you can't find a starter worth rostering and all the setup men in your league are taken. Moving forward, I'll try to be more selective about who makes the middle reliever grab bag, but for now, this is as good of a place as any to start. Mixed: $1; AL: $0 - Most of these guys should be widely available.
Francisco Cordero, Blue Jays - Sergio Santos was placed on the DL last night with what the team is calling shoulder inflammation. In the time while he is gone from the roster, Cordero will serve as the team's closer. While it's still unknown just how serious Santos' injury is, Cordero should be picked up in all leagues where he is available. So far Cordero has gotten off to a somewhat rocky start with three earned runs allowed in his six innings pitched. If you look more closely though, he's pitched just fine in four of his six appearances. Last season Cordero saved 37 games with a 2.45 ERA, 42 strikeouts, and 22 walks over 69.2 innings for the Reds. Mixed: $7; AL: $17.
Franklin Morales & Vicente Padilla, Red Sox - While Franklin Morales is listed here, I could have gone with any of the member of the Red Sox bullpen as I have no idea who the next man up is after Alfredo Aceves after yesterday's epic meltdown at the hands of the Yankees. The one person we can cross of the list is Mark Melancon -- he's in Triple-A Pawtucket right now working on his own set of issues. Morales has been pretty bad in his last three outings (2 IP) with six hits allowed, three walks, and only one strikeout. The next man up after him is likely Vicente Padilla, but he just gave up seven earned runs over his last two appearances. Still, Padilla has a 9:2 K:BB ratio, which is better than I can say for the rest of the Sox bullpen, so I'd give him the upper-hand. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Chris Iannetta, Angels - Iannetta has gotten off to a quick start this season with a .268/.348/.512 batting line to go with his two homers and eight RBI. In mixed leagues he's worth a look as a second catcher, especially in leagues that use OBP instead of batting average, as he's a career .236 hitter. The power has often been there, it's just a matter of Iannetta getting the at-bats and adjusting to life away from Coors. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.
Jeff Mathis, Blue Jays - Mathis went 3-for-7 this week with a double, homer, two RBI, two runs, and a walk. That's about the best one could hope for as Mathis doesn't hit for power or average. For his career he's carrying a .196/.258/.306 batting line. This sounds bad because it is, yet if you're in an AL only league with two catchers, you have to consider everyone. J.P. Arencibia is the starter until further notice, so there's no need to roster Mathis unless you're desperate. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Chris Gimenez, Rays - Gimenez went 4-for-11 this week with a double, RBI, and run. He takes the place as the Rays backup catcher as Jose Lobaton (shoulder) goes to the DL. In terms of skills, Gimenez really doesn't have any offensively. The good news is that he doesn't have to be great, he just has to start performing better than Jose Molina to see more playing time. A career .180/.284/.280 hitter with five homers and one steal over 278 plate appearances, there's more potential for disaster than there is profit here. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Gerald Laird, Tigers - Laird has started the season off with a .400/.438/.667 batting line over his first 16 plate appearances. He's currently the backup to Alex Avila and holds little value even in AL only leagues. This week he hit his first homer of the season, which matches the one homer he hit last season. Unless something happens to Avila, you can ignore Laird in almost all formats. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Jack Hannahan, Indians - Hannahan is starting to get picked up in deeper mixed leagues as he has hit .342/.422/.500 with a homer and 11 RBI to start the season. It's important that he keep his bat warm as he's trying to keep minor league prospect Lonnie Chisenhall at bay. If given enough plate appearances, Hannahan will be exposed as he can't hit for power or average as evidence by his career .235/.320/.362 batting line. The best-case scenario is the he stays hot enough for owners to ride this wave just a little bit longer. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.
Chris Davis, Orioles - Anytime Davis starts to warm up he gets attention in fantasy leagues as he was long a power prospect in the Rangers system. Right now he's hitting .313/.327/.479 with a homer and four RBI over 49 plate appearances. For those that haven't been keeping tabs on him lately, he's still the same free swinging batter you remember (13:1 K:BB). Owned in AL-only leagues, I wouldn't touch him in mixed leagues unless he really started to get on a hot streak. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.
Brandon Snyder, Rangers - With Adrian Beltre tweaking his hamstring yesterday, it's possible that the Rangers could opt to give Snyder some playing time at first, while Michael Young mans third base and Mitch Moreland hits DH. Last season at Triple-A Norfolk he hit .261/.312/.406 with 14 homers, 71 RBI, and 55 runs. He's potentially worth picking up in AL only leagues as that Texas lineup could carry him for a bit if Beltre does indeed go on the DL. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Brandon Allen, Rays - The Rays claimed Allen this week, after the A's designated him for assignment. In the minors he has flashed decent power, but he's never had the plate discipline to last in the majors. It's doubtful that he sees much playing time in Tampa as Carlos Pena is locked in there as the starter at first base. There's a chance he sees some playing time in left field, but it's not likely. On name value alone he's likely to garner a couple of bucks worth of FAAB in most AL only leagues, but he's really not worth the trouble. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Maicer Izturis, Angels - Izturis is a fringe speed option in deeper mixed leagues as he has three stolen bases to start the season. He's batting .333/.448/.375 and seeing playing time at 2B, 3B, and SS for the Angels. The most stolen bases he's had in a season is 14, back in 2006 when he got 399 plate appearances. If he can continue to find his way into the lineup this season, he could be a sneaky source of runs, while helping you in the stolen base category. As is, I wouldn't go adding him as a speed specialist unless my league was very deep. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.
Mike Aviles, Red Sox - Aviles has started the season batting .294/.333/.471 with two homers and two stolen bases. Known for playing a bit of second, third, and even the outfield, Aviles has only played shortstop for the Red Sox this season. Those in mixed leagues may want to take a look at him because of that position flexibility and his mild power/speed combination. If he lasts the rest of the season as the club's everyday shortstop, he'll likely produce double-digit home runs and steals, so there's profit here in shallow mixed leagues. Mixed: $10; AL: Owned.
Craig Gentry, Rangers - Gentry has started to see some playing time this week and could see more of it as Adrian Beltre tweaked his hamstring yesterday. With Beltre possibly going to the DL, Josh Hamilton is likely to shift to DH, while Michael Young covers third base. For the season Gentry is 6-for-20 with two stolen bases. Last season in only 153 plate appearances he stole 18 bases, so it doesn't take much playing time for Gentry to be worth picking up in AL only leagues. As far as his other skills go, he doesn't hit for power and he likely won't hit for average either. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
B.J. Upton, Rays - Just a friendly reminder here to get Upton back in your lineup as he came off the DL this week, after dealing with a back injury.
Marlon Byrd, Red Sox - Byrd was traded to the Red Sox this weekend, after he got off to a terrible start (3-for-43) with the Cubs this season. Last season he hit .276/.324/.395 with nine homers and three stolen bases. The biggest need he fills in Boston is the playing time hole left by Jacoby Ellsbury, who is out with a shoulder injury. It's unknown just how Bobby Valentine will work Byrd into his lineup, but one has to imagine that Byrd would see more playing time than Jason Repko in center field. For those in AL only leagues, I wouldn't go that extra buck for Byrd, despite the playing time he'll draw. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Mitchell Maier, Royals - Since we last spoke about the Royals OF situation, Jarrod Dyson was sent down to the minors and Mitchell Maier as stepped up as the team's everyday center fielder. For the season Maier is batting .227/.370/.455 with a homer, triple, and stolen base. Last season over 113 plate appearances he hit .232/.345/.337 with one stolen base. Lorenzo Cain (groin) is expected back from the DL by the end of this week, so any value Maier has will be short lived. Mixed: $No; AL: $2.
Alejandro De Aza, White Sox - If De Aza isn't owned in your mixed league, he should be. This week he hit his third homer and second triple of the season. For those new to De Aza, he possesses the ability to hit for double-digit power, while stealing close to 20 bases - if given a full workload. Only 28 years old, he is a career .279/.336/.428 batter, who has never really been given an everyday job, until now as the White Sox center-fielder. Mixed: $12; AL: Owned.
Raul Ibanez & Andruw Jones, Yankees - With Brett Gardner going on the DL this week with an elbow injury, Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones should serve as platoonmates in left-field for the Yankees. In this platoon, Ibanez will face righties, while Jones faces lefties, thus giving Ibanez more value. So far each has hit two home runs with Ibanez also stealing two bases. Don't expect the 40-year-old Ibanez to keep that speed up, though. It's unknown when Gardner will be back, so don't worry about either losing at-bats in the immediate future. For reference, last season Ibanez hit .256/.307/.440 with 16 homers against righties, while Jones hit .286/.384/.540 with eight homers against lefties. Ibanez - Mixed: $5; AL: Owned. Jones - Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop them in the comments section.
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