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FAAB Factor - NL: Scraping The Bottom

Jan Levine

Jan Levine

Levine covers baseball, basketball and hockey for RotoWire. In addition to his column writing, he's the master of the MLB and NHL cheatsheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the mothers, especially to my incredibly tolerant wife, my mother, mother-in-law, sister and sisters-in-law.

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

Starting Pitching:

Christian Friedrich
-- Friedrich was once a highly-touted prospect for Colorado but he disappeared off of most prospect lists last year. He sported a 5.00 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 133 minor league innings in 2011. This season, Friedrich has turned around his career, posting a 3.00 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Colorado Springs with a 27:4 K:BB and 1.63 GO/AO ratios over 30 innings. That strong start earned him a promotion with Jeremy Guthrie on the DL and Jhoulys Chacin sent to the minors. Friedrich, who has a low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup, picked up the win in his major league debut Wednesday against SD, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits with seven strikeouts in six innings. Friedrich -- Mixed: $2 NL: $7

Alex White
-- White was profiled last week, but gets another nod as he, and not Carlos Torres, started this past week. White gave up two runs over 6.1 innings against the Padres on Tuesday, but got the loss as the Rockies could only scratch out one run. White allowed six hits and two walks while striking out five, topping out at 94 mph with his fastball and was able to mix in his slider, which was a problem last year when he had his finger injury. White starts Sunday against the Dodgers, and Friedrich starts Monday in San Francisco. Guthrie, his right shoulder healed, will return from the disabled list and start Tuesday against the Giants, which could mean that White or Friedrich might be optioned to the minors, though Colorado could opt to keep both young pitches and waive Jaime Moyer. White -- Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Jeremy Guthrie
-- Guthrie, who sprained his right shoulder in a bicycle accident on April 27, will be activated off the disabled list and start Tuesday against the Giants. He showed he was healthy, tossing four scoreless innings for High-A Modesto Thursday, paving the way for his activation. Mixed: $3; NL: $9

Jordan Lyles
– Lyles, who had a spot start in Houston before getting sent back down immediately, appears to be the likely candidate to start Tuesday, but he has not yet been officially named the starter. Lyles threw 6.2 scoreless innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday, striking out six and walking just one. He induced a ton of groundouts, something he has struggled with in his past major league stints. Lyles has posted impressive numbers at Oklahoma City and may be taking over a rotation spot for good if he fares well in his next stint in Houston. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Tim Stauffer
-- Stauffer, who was supposed to start Opening Day before being sidelined with a triceps injury, will be activated off the 15-day DL and start Monday against Washington. Stauffer made three rehab starts, striking out five while giving up three hits in 78 pitches over seven shutout innings in his final rehab start Wednesday. Last year was Stauffer’s first full season in the majors, where he posted a solid 3.73 ERA and 1.255 WHIP. Stauffer is a groundball pitcher with a career 6.17 K/9IP -- not an ace but more a 2/3 starter who benefits from pitching half his games at Petco Park. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.

Chris Young
-- Young (shoulder surgery to repair torn anterior capsule) made his first rehab start for High-A St. Lucie on Thursday, tossing five scoreless innings while allowing five hits and two walks along with four strikeouts. The hope is that Young will only need 3-4 more minor-league starts before he is ready to join the Mets rotation sometime in June. Young is way ahead of the return pace that Johan Santana had with a similar surgery, so we will need to see if he progresses in a linear fashion or has some bumps along the road the next few weeks. But to date, his return has been smoother than anticipated. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early speculative bid).

Relief Pitchers:

Ronald Belisario/D.J. Carrasco/Casey Coleman/Rhiner Cruz/Jake Diekman/Mike Dunn/Alex Hinshaw/Shane Loux/Miles Mikolas/Josh Outman/Raul Valdes
-- This week’s batch of middle relief promotions/activations took place in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Florida, San Diego, San Francisco, San Diego, Colorado and Philadelphia. Only Belisario and Cruz look to play prominent roles for their teams. Belisario could rack up strikeouts out of the pen, while Cruz should continue to get chances to pitch out of the Houston bullpen. All except Belisario and Cruz - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Belisario and Cruz – Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Juan Cruz
-- Cruz struck out one in a scoreless inning Saturday against the Astros to earn his third save of the year. Hanrahan is back from the bereavement list, but it's clear that Cruz is next in line in case anything happens to Hanrahan, which adds to his solid value, given his numbers this year. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Logan Ondrusek
-- Ondrusek has been very effective out of the bullpen, as he has yet to allow a run (earned or otherwise) this year, though he has walked six along with seven hits and 11K in 14.2 innings. Given Aroldis Chapman's inability to work on consecutive days -- he hasn't done so yet this season -- Ondrusek seems the natural choice if Marshall should lose his job as closer. Ondrusek - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Dale Thayer
-- When Huston Street went down with a shoulder injury, the expectation was that Andrew Cashner and Luke Gregerson would be 1 and 1a as the Padres’ closer. How wrong we all were as manager Bud Black has turned to Thayer three times this week and been rewarded all three times with saves. Thayer did close for Triple-A Buffalo in 2011, posting 21 saves with a 2.66 ERA and 0.972 WHIP. For now, Thayer appears to be the main option for saves in San Diego. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.

Catchers:

Jesus Flores
Wilson Ramos left Saturday’s game, and he will undergo an MRI on his right knee. Early indications are that Ramos could miss a chunk of time, which likely would mean that Flores steps in as the Nationals’ starting catcher. A 2009 shoulder injury derailed Flores’ 2010 season, and he looked as if he was still recovering in 2011. He is a decent defensive catcher, and he has shown power when healthy (career .141 ISO). Flores has seen minimal playing time so far this year, but he will get a chance to show he can handle the job with Ramos sidelined. Mixed: $3; NL: $9

Rob Johnson/Mike Nickeas
-- The Mets promoted Johnson due to Josh Thole landing on the 7-day DL with a concussion following a collison at the plate with Ty Wigginton. Nickeas should see most of the action behind the plate while Thole is out, supplemented at times by Johnson. Don’t expect tremendous production from Nickeas, as he is not really known for his offense. Johnson -- Mixed: No; NL: $0; Nickeas -- Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

First Basemen:

John Mayberry
-- Mayberry, who was on the bench for 10 days in a row, has now started five straight games at first base and left field. Mayberry was viewed as a sleeper coming into the year after his breakout year at the plate last season. He had a poor spring and got off to a slow start, with a major drop in BB/9 and contact rates coupled with a spike in K/9 rate, which relegated him to some pine time. Mayberry is now hitting .244 on the year and could be a big boost to the Phillies offense, which has been struggling with injuries to key players such as Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and is also now without Laynce Nix. If Mayberry can get into a groove, especially improving his eye at the plate, he will assure himself plenty of playing time and could help his fantasy owners as well. Mixed: $3; NL: $9

Second Base:

Mike Fontenot
-- The Phillies recalled Fontenot prior to Saturday's game. Fontenot, who was let go by San Francisco this spring and signed with Philadelphia, hit .300/.364/.420 for Triple-A Lehigh since signing a minor league deal in April. He should play all over the infield while the Phillies await Chase Utley's return from the disabled list. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

Hector Luna
-- Luna was promoted to take the roster spot of the injured Laynce Nix on Friday. Manager Charlie Manuel said Luna got the call over Mike Fontenot in part because of what he showed in Spring Training while batting .302 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 53 at bats. Fontenot was promoted Saturday when Erik Kratz was optioned down to the minors and that promotion could cut into Luna’s chances to play. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Ryan Roberts
-- Roberts was in the starting lineup for the third straight game Saturday against the Giants. Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson wants to get Roberts going, so it looks like he'll be manning third base on most days going forward after Gibson turned to Cody Ransom brefly. Roberts got off to a hot start last year, then slumped the second half of the year and carried that slide into this season. He has shown signs of snapping out of it, but did go 0-for-8 his past two starts after going 3-for-4 in his first one in this stretch. Plus, Josh Bell is tearing up Triple-A, so Roberts will have to make the most of this opportunity. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Jordany Valdespin
-- Valdespin was promoted in late-April and then was optioned down to the minor after the game on May 5. His stint in the minors was brief as he was promoted Monday with Ruben Tejada landing on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps. Valdespin got his first major-league hit and home run off of Jonathan Papelbon that evening. The Mets decided to keep him up even with Ronny Cedeno activated Friday, but Valdespin will only see brief action and probably will be sent back down when Tejada returns to action. had a breakout season for the Mets in 2011, moving from Double- to Triple-A. He hit .297/.341/.483. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Shortstops:

Charlie Culberson
-- The Giants, dissatisfied with Conor Gillaspie (3-for-20) at third base, have made the call to Culberson. Their top second base prospect, Culberson owns an .816 OPS at Triple-A Fresno and has a chance to hold down the second base job until Freddy Sanchez returns with Joaquin Arias moving to third base. Culberson's long term prospects will depend on his early performance, so keep an eye on his first few games. Mixed: $1, NL: $4

Everth Cabrera
-- Cabrera is hitting .328/.385/.387 while going 14-for-14 on the basepaths at Triple-A Tucson through 28 games this season. He's spending more time at shortstop again, but has made four error in 57 chances over 14 games played there. Given the struggles of Jason Bartlett and Andy Parrino at short in San Diego, Cabrera, who seemingly grabbed the starting job in SD in 2009 but gave it away the past two seasons, may be nearing an opportunity to receive significant run in the big leagues. However, keep in mind that he was arrested in March on a misdemeanor domestic violence assault charge, which could delay his promotion. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early speculative bid)

Adrian Cardenas
-- Cardenas was promoted this past week to Chicago. While he has shown a good eye at the plate, Cardenas doesn't offer much of anything in terms of power and that pretty much matches the profile of former Oakland teammate Cliff Pennington. Cardenas made strides the past year in his walk and contact rates, which is why Chicago acquired him this offseason from Oakland. Cardenas could work his way into a share of the playing time at second base if he provides an offensive threat in the bottom third of the order after posting an .897 OPS over 26 games at Iowa to begin the season. He also might see time in left field and the occasional start at shortstop, when Starlin Castro needs a day off. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Ronny Cedeno
-- Cedeno, who was out with a rib injury activated off the disabled list on Friday, will serve as the regular shortstop for the Mets while Ruben Tejada is sidelined with his quad injury. The hope is that Tejada will be ready to return when his 15 days are up but Cedeno gives the Mets a true shortstop with him out rather than the team playing Justin Turner or Jordany Valdespin there regularly. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Stephen Drew
-- Drew, sidelined following his ankle surgery last July, played six innings in an extended spring training game Thursday, but still hasn't resumed sliding. He's been cleared to perform slides as needed, but the situation simply hasn't come up yet in a game situation. Drew is making steady progress, but will likely need to appear in full games at extended spring training (and possibly on consecutive days) before the D-Backs send him out on a minor league rehab assignment. If you have room and can stash him now, Drew could provide nice value at shortstop starting sometime in June. Mixed: $4; NL: $13 (early speculative bid)

Justin Sellers
-- Sellers was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday in order to fill Jerry Hairston Jr.'s spot on the roster after Hairston was placed on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain. Sellers is ticketed for a backup role at both middle infield spots and third base. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Third Basemen:

Miguel Cairo/Mike Costanzo/Todd Frazier
-- Cairo, who was activated off the disabled list Monday, missed only the minimum 15 days, which should indicate that his hamstring injury is no longer an issue. He should see some starts at third base with Scott Rolen out due to a shoulder injury, but won’t see as much time as he did earlier in the year with Frazier now playing well. Costanzo was called up to the Reds from Triple-A on Saturday. Costanzo will help fill in at third while Rolen is on the DL. Through 79 at-bats at Triple-A Louisville this season, Costanzo hit .291 with three home runs, 11 RBI, and nine runs scored. The primary beneficiary of playing time with Rolen out should be Frazier, who started there Saturday. Frazier is off to a solid start this year and has a bit of power in his bat but will need to show he can handle the position defensively. Cairo -- Mixed: No; NL: $2; Costanzo -- Mixed: No; NL: $0; Frazier -- Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

James Darnell
-- Darnell was recalled Friday with Joe Wieland (elbow) landing on the DL. Darnell had 10 hits in his 45 career major-league at-bats and his season was cut short in mid-September due to a subluxation in his right shoulder. Darnell was batting .267 with seven homers and 21 RBI at Triple-A Tucson this year before Friday's call-up. He is arguably one of the best prospects in the Padres' organization right now with good power and plate discipline but struggles defensively and is blocked by Chase Headley for the time being. In addition, his stint in the majors may only last until Tim Stauffer comes off the disabled list to start Monday or Tuesday. Mixed: No; NL: $0 (up bid in keeper leagues)

Outfielders:

Bobby Abreu
-- I profiled Abreu last week when he signed with the Dodgers after clearing waivers following being designated for assignment by the Angels. The original view was that Abreu could ultimately work his way into a platoon with Juan Rivera, and stood to see the larger share of the playing time if that shakes out as Rivera hits lefties much better than righties. That original view has changed slightly and Abreu gets a spike in value as he figures to be the favorite to play everyday in left field Juan Rivera was placed on the 15-day DL and could miss two months with a torn hamstring muscle. Abreu still has some usefulness, as he batted .253 and stole 21 bases with the Angels last season. Mixed: $5; NL: $17.

Roger Bernadina
-- Bernadina will get every chance to lay claim to everyday left field job with Jayson Werth out due to a broken wrist. Manager Davey Johnson's vote of confidence for Bernadina firmly places him ahead of Xavier Nady and Tyler Moore on the depth chart. His struggles this season were only partially due to Bryce Harper's early promotion, so Bernadina will need to improve his batting to earn the everyday job and homering Friday was a good start. Bernadina has had issues at the plate the last several seasons, so his hold on the job is tenuous at best, but he does have a mix of power and speed. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Travis Buck
-- Buck saw several starts this week with Brian Bogusevic slumping, though he was on the bench Friday and Saturday. If Bogusevic’s struggles continue, Buck should be the primary beneficiary of increased playing time. At worse, his ability to handle all three-outfield positions should keep him in a reserve role with the Astros. To this point, the success he's had in the minors has never really translated against big league pitching, but he has gotten a fresh start in Houston and made the most of it. Mixed: No; NL: $3

Kevin Mattison
-- Mattison, who has good speed, was called up by the Marlins on Friday. At-bats could be tough to come by for Mattison, as he isn't a good fit as a semi-platoon partner for Logan Morrison since both players hit left-handed, and his stay in the majors could be brief so don't look for much value from him. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Scott Van Slyke
-- The son of former All-Star outfielder Andy Van Skyle, Scott has exceeded expectations as a former 14th-round pick out of high school back in 2005. Now 25, Van Slyke batted a robust .348/.427/.595 for Double-A Chattanooga last season, tallying 45 doubles and 20 home runs in 457 at-bats to go with a respectable 100:65 K:BB. Named the organization's minor league hitter of the year in 2011, Van Slyke opened 2012 at Triple-A Albuquerque, posting a .336/.411/.623 line with eight home runs and 25 RBI over 122 at-bats in a hitters haven to earn the promotion with Juan Rivera hitting the disabled list due to a torn hamstring muscle. Van Slyke should see some time at first base and left field, though he is an average defender at both spots and it’s possible that LA calls up Jerry Sands with Rivera out for up to two months. Mixed: No; NL: $0.