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FAAB Factor - NL: Panda Sighting

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.


National League - FAAB - 8/12/12
 
Starting Pitching:

Anthony Bass/Andrew Cashner - Bass, on the disabled list since June 21 with inflammation in his pitching shoulder -- threw 30 pitches, including fastballs and changeups on Wednesday. Cashner, on the disabled list since July 4 with a strained right lat muscle, threw the same amount and types of pitches. On Friday, both will head to Arizona to begin advanced baseball activities, which likely means additional bullpen sessions, advancing to a simulated and then rehab games. Bass and Cashner are likely at least a few weeks away and it's possible the Padres will wait until the rosters expand to 40 on September 1 before they are promoted. Bass - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Cashner - Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (early speculative bids)

Jhoulys Chacin - Chacin (pectoral) gave up two runs on four hits in a five-inning rehab start for Double-A Tulsa on Monday, striking out five batters. This start came after a rough one at Tulsa, leading Colorado to believe Chacin, whose fastball sat around 92 mph, is close to returning. Chacin is expected to make his final rehab start at Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday. He had his start pushed back so that he would be lined up to replace Tyler Chatwood if he's able to join the Rockies after completing the start. He will be held to 85 pitches in his final rehab start to simulate the 75-pitch limit he'll be held to as a member of the team's four-man rotation. The Rockies discovered that Chacin was struggling with his velocity due to a pectoral injury rather than shoulder inflammation as was previously believed. Once that was discovered, the treatment he received was changed, prompting the recent progress and his ability to get his fastball back in the low-90s. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Tommy Hanson - Hanson, who is sidelined with a strained back and eligible to come off the DL on Aug. 15, will throw up to 80 pitches in a rehab start Sunday before likely returning to the Braves rotation next weekend. Manager Fredi Gonzalez noted that the idea of Atlanta possibly going to a six-man rotation when Hanson returns for the remainder of the month is an idea that might make some sense for the team. That's due to Kris Medlen's work since moving into the rotation and Atlanta not wanting to move him back to the bullpen. (should still be owned in all formats).

Shaun Marcum - Marcum (elbow) was profiled last week when manager Ron Roenicke said his bullpen session went "great" Wednesday, and he was cleared to throw a simulated session last weekend. Marcum threw a successful 30-pitch simulated game Sunday at Busch Stadium and started Friday for Low-A Wisconsin, tossing 28 of his 36 pitches for strikes in a three-inning start. It is expected that Marcum will make one more rehab start before returning from the disabled list, putting him on track for a return around August 20-22, if he's able to avoid a setback. He has not pitched since he went 7.2 innings on June 14. Marcum is 5-3 on the season with a 3.39 ERA, building off his strong 2011 campaign and alleviating the concerns following his very late season fade. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (slightly upped speculative bid)

Brooks Raley - Raley, the Cubs' 2009 6th round pick, was promoted and made his major league debut Tuesday, lasting just four innings in the loss against the Padres. He was pulled after giving up 11 baserunners (three walks) and seven runs while striking out four. He was good but not great between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa this season. With 22 starts between the two, Raley had a 3.58 ERA, a 1.332 WHIP and a 98:40 K/BB ratio. Overall in his minor league career he has a 3.74 ERA. Raley has a five-pitch arsenal (four- and two-seam fastballs that top out around 90 mph, slider, changeup and curveball) but lacks a true out-pitch. Raley was filling in for the injured Matt Garza (elbow) and couldn't take advantage of a matchup against the Padres in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Despite this poor outing, Raley will likely get an extended look due to the severity of Garza's injury along with the recent trades of Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Tim Stauffer - Stauffer, out with elbow and triceps soreness since early-April, threw in another rehab assignment at High-A Lake Elsinore on Tuesday. Stauffer threw 1.2 innings and allowed one run on three hits, one walk and two strikeouts. Though he threw a few too many pitches, he was actually relatively efficient with his strikes, throwing 26 strikes on 39 pitches. Stauffer hopes to be back sometime this year, though that likely won't until the rosters expand in September, if at all. Mixed: $0; NL: $2 (early, early speculative bid)

Relief Pitchers:

Jeremy Affeldt/Javier Lopez/Sergio Romo - Giants manager Bruce Bochy says "the closer situation has changed" and that the team is going with a full by-committee approach. That could mean that any number of San Francisco relievers could have save opportunities. The most likely candidates in this scenario will likely be Affeldt, Sergio Romo, and possibly Javier Lopez. Santiago Casilla, who had the role, lost it due to his July struggles. Affeldt has thrown well lately, allowing three walks and six hits in 13.1 innings over his past 11 outings to give him a 2.56 ERA and 1.140 WHIP. Affeldt and Romo figure to flip-flop regularly based on matchups though the right-handed Romo would appear to be in position to see a heavy portion of the opportunities. Romo has a nice 2.06 ERA on the year with 42 strikeouts in 35.0 innings pitched. Perhaps most importantly, he's converted five of six save chances thus far, though Affeldt, with 28 career saves to eight for Romo, has a lot more experience in the role. Lopez's 3.38 ERA and 1.71 WHIP certainly do not scream "lock-down reliever," but he has posted a brilliant 1.56 ERA vs. left-handed batters this season, so he could get the occasional look-see in the role. Affeldt - Mixed: $4; NL: $11; Lopez - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Romo - Mixed: $5; NL: $14.

Phillippe Aumont - Aumont is a candidate to earn a promotion to the majors when rosters expand in September. Aumont is 2-1 and 13 saves with a 3.63 ERA and a 53:32 K:BB ratio in 39.2 innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Aumont, who is 6-foot-7, has great stuff, but he still needs to work on his command, though his mound presence has improved this year. He could be a candidate for a set-up role later this year and in 2013. Mixed: $0; NL: $2 (early speculative bid).

Heath Bell - Manager Ozzie Guillen indicated on Wednesday that Bell could start to see more save opportunities down the stretch. Steve Cishek has done an excellent job since taking over the closer role from Bell, but the Marlins gave out a big-money deal to Bell, which seems to be the driving factor here. Bell has pitched well since the All-Star break, thriving in non-pressure situations, and the Marlins now want to see if he can transition back to ninth-inning duty. Cishek and Bell could share the role, which would be an upgrade for Bell, but given how poorly he pitched earlier in the year, don't say you weren't warned if you do pick him up. Mixed: $5; NL: $14 (go higher if think he gets full-time role back)

Brad Bergesen/Cory Burns/Lendy Castillo/Will Harris/Jeff Locke/Miles Mikolas/Jose Mijares/Bryan Shaw/Raul Valdes - This week's batch of middle relief promotions/activations/trade acquisitions took place in Arizona, San Diego, Chicago, Colorado, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, Arizona and Philadelphia. All of them will pitch in middle relief for their respective teams. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Juan Cruz - Cruz, sidelined since July 22 with right shoulder inflammation, was activated off the disabled list Sunday. Cruz, who completed a short rehab stint, posted a 2.61 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 31 innings before going down, and he'll likely be available out of the bullpen for Pittsburgh's game Sunday against the Padres. He will slot in as one of Joel Hanrahan's set-up men. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Luke Gregerson/Dale Thayer - Huston Street landed on the disabled list due to the left calf injury he suffered while chasing down a grounder for the final out of Friday's game. In his absence, either Gregerson or Thayer will close. In terms of numbers, Gregerson should have the edge in assuming the closer role over Thayer as he has a 2.56 ERA, 1.120 WHIP and 55:15 K:BB ratio in 52.2 innings while not allowing a run in his last 16 appearances. That said, manager Bud Black indicated that is likely the favorite after recording five saves while Street was out for parts of May and June with a shoulder injury. Gregerson - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Thayer - Mixed: $5; NL: $14

Jim Henderson - Brewers manager Ron Roenicke indicated Henderson, who notched his first career saves on Tuesday and Wednesday, will replace John Axford, who picked up the save Monday but blew the save Friday, as the team's closer. Henderson had a 1.69 ERA in 48 innings at Triple-A Nashville when he was promoted in late-July and has carried that success to the majors. His main pitch is a mid-90s fastball, mixed in with a hard slider, which has resulted in a 10:1 K:BB ratio in seven innings for the Brewers, before giving up the game-winning run on a hit and two walks with three strikeouts in one-plus innings Saturday. In the past, he has struggled with command, seen in his high walk rate in the minors, so the key for him will be to keep that in line. Given all the issues the Milwaukee pen has hit this year, it's not shocking to see Roenicke turn to Henderson full-time, despite Saturday's loss. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.

Jair Jurrjens - Jurrjens, on the 15-day DL with a strained groin, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday. When Jurrjens comes back he won't have a spot in the rotation to return to as he had just been moved to the bullpen prior to being sidelined. That move came about after Jurrjens gave up 14 runs in 5.2 innings over his last two starts. He'll likely settle back into a long-relief role, with the Braves have six guys for five spots once Tommy Hanson is back from the DL and Kris Medlen doing a solid job after taking his spot in the rotation. Mixed: $0; NL: $3

Catchers:

Jason Castro - Castro is inching closer to a return. Castro has been on the disabled list since July 8 with right knee effusion, and has had the knee drained of fluids more than once. He began a rehab assignment last year and has steadily increased the number of innings played. Castro has progressed from three to five and then to seven innings played heading into the weekend. He is slated to play nine innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday and Saturday before rejoining the big league squad, possibly as early as the Astros series against the Cubs. Once he returns, with Houston going nowhere, he should take over catching duties from Chris Snyder. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Yasmani Grandal - Grandal, sidelined by a strained oblique since July 31, hit off a tee and played long toss Wednesday, and hit on the field Friday and Saturday. He will likely need a rehab assignment before coming off the disabled list, which could occur when he is eligible on Aug. 15, though it would not be surprising if he returned a few days later than that. (Just an FYI as still should be owned in all formats.)

Nick Hundley - Hundley was called back up to the Padres with Yasmani Grandal on the DL. That said, Hundley was batting just .190 in 42 at-bats at Triple-A Tucson after posting a lowly .166/.226/.259 line with San Diego before being sent down June 29. Now that Hundley's healthy, the Padres will likely use him as a backup to John Baker until Grandal is ready to return. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Devin Mesoraco - Mesoraco (concussion) was activated from the 7-day DL and started Thursday against the Cubs. Mesoraco was involved in a hard collision at home plate on July 30. He started the next night's game but left after becoming dizzy, and he was then placed on the DL with the concussion. Mesoraco has been splitting time with Ryan Hanigan behind the plate, a situation that should continue going forward. (just an FYI as playing time status did not changed after coming off the DL)

Wil Nieves - The Diamondbacks claimed Nieves off waivers from the Rockies. He will play a bit role behind Miguel Montero at catcher with Henry Blanco landing on the 15-day disabled list. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
 
First Basemen:

Yonder Alonso - After getting off to a pretty slow start - especially in the power department - over the first three months of the season, July and August have been kind to Alonso. He ended up hitting .290/.368/.505 with 19 RBI last month and he has continued that solid play this month. He is 10-for-35 with three runs scored, a home run and four RBI though nine games in August. His poor start likely caused him to go below the radar, so owners might want to start capitalizing on this hot streak before others notice it. Mixed: $7; NL: should be already owned.

Matthew McBride - McBride was profiled last week when he was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday and started at first base against the Giants. McBride was enjoying a breakout season in his third campaign at Triple-A, batting an incredible .354/.386/.561 with 10 homers and 77 RBI. With Michael Cuddyer (oblique) landing on the DL, McBride was originally expected to be the top backup at first base to Todd Helton. That changed with Helton now out for the season, so it looks like McBride will be at the top of the depth chart at first base. If he struggles, the team could move Tyler Colvin over to first base more permanently or play Cuddyer there when he returns, but expect McBride to receive his fair share of starts for the time being. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Second Base:

Emilio Bonifacio - Bonifacio, who was sidelined from May 18-July 13 with a torn ligament left thumb that required surgery, lasted just three weeks before he re-injured the thumb. Initial reports suggested that Bonifacio would miss the remainder of the season. Those dire predictions proved to be unfounded and his time of absence was revised to just 2-3 weeks. Bonifacio swung off a tee Saturday, will take BP Sunday, and is slated to begin a rehab assignment at Single-A Jupiter this upcoming week. When he does return, there could be one change as manager Ozzie Guillen is worried Bonifacio could be at a bigger risk of re-injuring the thumb at second base so he may move him to the outfield. Bonifacio has only played 15 games at second so far this season, so if Guillen gets his way Bonifacio's keeper league owners will lose some 2013 position flexibility for the speedster. However, that won't impact his value for the last six weeks or so off the season. Mixed: $35; NL: $65 (bid in case he was waived when injured and season-ending diagnosis came out).

Jake Elmore - Elmore was promoted by the Diamondbacks from Triple-A Reno on Saturday. Elmore will take the place of Willie Bloomquist (back) on the roster. Elmore was hitting .344 with Triple-A Reno, with 32 stolen bases. He's played shortstop, second base, third base, and the corner outfield in Triple-A this season. Elmore will serve as a utility man while Bloomquist is out of commission. Mixed: No; NL: $0

Tyler Greene - Greene, who had been mired at the back end of the Cardinals' bench, got a new lease on his baseball life following his trade to the Astros on Thursday. Greene, who was selected by Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and the Cardinals' scouting staff in the first round in 2005, gets reunited with Luhnow in Houston. With Jed Lowrie still on the DL, Greene should see consistent playing time despite his .291 batting average this year and inconsistent numbers in the majors. He has shown flashes of talent and performed well in the minors, but has failed to make that transition to the pros, but will get another chance in Houston. Most of his playing time initially will come against left-handed pitchers with Marwin Gonzalez starting versus righties. Mixed: $2; NL: $7

Adam Kennedy - Kennedy, sidelined since July 26 with a right groin strain, was activated from the disabled list on Thursday. He will see time as a utility infielder, crowding an already overpopulated LA infield. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Chris Nelson - Nelson, sidelined since July 16 with an irregular heart beat, was profiled last week when he began a rehab assignment. He warrants another mention as he was activated off the DL on Monday. Nelson started at second base Monday, and will make the majority of the starts for the Rockies at that position going forward. That could change when Troy Tulowitzki is activated from the DL, moving Josh Rutledge over to second base, but no specific timetable has been announced on Tulowitzki's return. Mixed: $2; NL: $7

Shortstops:

Ian Desmond - Desmond, sidelined since July 22 with a torn oblique, took part in baseball activities Monday for the first time since suffering the injury. Desmond's activity was minor, but he was able to take grounders and throw from a short distance. Desmond upped his activity quotient taking batting practice Saturday but still remains several weeks away from returning to game action, with an end of the month return looking reasonable. Prior to being sidelined, Desmond was hitting .286 with 17 HR and 53 RBI and 51 runs. (just an FYI as still should be owned in all leagues)

Billy Hamilton - There's a chance that Hamilton could be a September call-up. He's hitting .271/.395/.379 at Double-A Pensacola since his midseason promotion, in a span covering 30 games. Of course, the number that everyone cares about is his 32 stolen bases (in 40 attempts), giving him a combined 135 bags across two minor league levels this year after swiping 103 bags last season. His PT would be limited if he does get promoted, likely serving as a pinch-runner and spot-starter, but his value is mainly in keeper leagues. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (very early spec, as speed kills)

Ryan Jackson - Jackson was called up Friday to join the Cardinals. Jackson is considered a defensive standout, not known for his bat. He hit .269 with 10 homers and 45 RBI in Memphis this year. He will provide additional infield depth at second base and shortstop following the trade of Tyler Greene to the Astros. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Jordy Mercer - Mercer connected for his first major-league homer in Pittsburgh's 7-6 win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. He's hitting .200 (6-for-30) but five of his six hits have gone for extra bases. His dinger Wednesday could lead him to a few more at-bats, which occurred Thursday when he got another start, with starter Clint Barmes hitting just .212 in 312 at-bats. That said, Barmes started Friday and is solid defensively, which should allow him to continue to see most of the playing time at shortstop for the Bucs. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Jean Segura - Segura was profiled a few weeks ago when he was traded to the Brewers in the Zach Greinke deal. He warrants another mention as Milwaukee called him up from Double-A Huntsville on Monday. With Cesar Izturis now in Washington and Cody Ransom the only other shortstop on the roster, Segura should see plenty of action at the big league level the rest of the way. While Segura has never played above Double-A, he posted a .771 OPS at the level this season and went 13-for-30 (.433) with four steals in eight games with Huntsville. He probably could use more minor-league seasoning, but his speed should at a minimum give him some value and he has shown a good contact rate in the minors. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Third Basemen:

Chris Johnson - Johnson was profiled two weeks ago when he moved from Houston to Arizona, but his hot start in the desert warrants another mention. In 10 games for the D-Backs, Johnson has five home runs, 16 RBI, and a .342 batting average. Johnson should continue to play every day for Arizona and is showing no signs of slowing down at the plate. He has always shown power potential, and now in a homer-friendly park with a solid lineup around him, that power is shining through. Mixed: $8; NL: $22 (owned, but uptick in value)

Placido Polanco - Polanco, sidelined since July 23 with lower back inflammation, started hitting recently and is taking ground balls, with the team feeding him the grounders. That said, there is no set timeframe for his return, but he is expected to travel with the Phillies to Miami for their upcoming road trip. Manager Charlie Manuel indicated Polanco, who is hitting just .255 overall and has struggled since the All-Star Game, might not see regular duty when he returns from the disabled list as Kevin Frandsen has been filling in at third base. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Pablo Sandoval - Sandoval, out since July 28 with a strained left hamstring, ran the bases Wednesday and started a rehab assignment with High-A San Jose on Friday. Sandoval is scheduled to play two or three games at San Jose before being activated by the Giants. The rehab games will allow Sandoval to test whether he can field his position adequately after suffering the hamstring injury. Before being sidelined, the Panda, who missed six weeks with a broken hamate bone in his left hand, had put up a solid .299/.352/.491 triple-slash with right home runs and 33 RBI in 234 at-bats this season. (just an FYI as should still be owned in all leagues)

Josh Vitters - Vitters, profiled last week when it looked like he would get called up at some point, was promoted Sunday. He had been hitting .304/.356/.512 with 17 HR at Triple-A, but his defense at third base is the biggest issue right now. Vitters' glove could still use some work and it would help if he cut down on the strikeouts, but it made sense to call him up just to see how he handles the show, especially with the Cubs out of it and the hot corner being handled by Luis Valbuena and Joe Mather. Vitters told reporters Thursday that he will start against left-handers and only some right-handers with Valbuena seeing most of the starts against righties, which hurts Vitters' value somewhat in the short-term. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Outfielders:

Brandon Barnes - The Astros called up Barnes on Tuesday. Barnes, a sixth-round pick in 2005, has hit .323/.383/.477 with five homers, 38 RBI and 14 steals in 62 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City this season. He could see a window for big league at-bats with the placement of Jordan Schafer on the 15-day DL with an AC separation in his shoulder. Keep in mind, however, that Barnes is not a prospect at age 26, but that said, he should see plenty of time in center field. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Brett Jackson - Jackson, like Vitters, was profiled last week when he appeared to be in the verge of a promotion. That promotion came Sunday. Jackson, a first-round pick by the Cubs in 2009, was hitting .256/.338/.479 with 15 homers, 47 RBI, 27 steals and a 158:47 K:BB ratio in 106 games (407 at-bats) at Triple-A Iowa. The strikeouts are not a surprise for Jackson, as he has struggled historically to make contact, something that might retard his progress in the majors. However, Jackson should still play almost daily, providing some power and speed, unless his propensity for striking out forces him to the bench. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Fernando Martinez - Martinez was recalled Friday by the Astros. Martinez appeared in four games for the Astros in early-June, but suffered a concussion and then was sent back down once he had healed. At Triple-A Oklahoma City, the 23-year-old F-Mart has hit .314/.367/.507 with 13 homers and 62 RBI in 90 games this season. Martinez should time at both corner spots for the Astros. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Justin Maxwell - About a month ago, Maxwell elected not to have surgery to remove loose bodies from his ankle, opting for offseason surgery instead. After a rough stretch, Maxwell's been a pleasant surprise of late, and through 203 at-bats this year he has a batting line of .246/.325/.488 with 12 home runs, 32 runs and 37 RBI. That said, the call-ups of Brandon Barnes and Fernando Martinez have cut slightly into his playing time lately, so consider that situation when bidding. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Angel Pagan - Overall, Pagan has numbers in line with his career stats, but lately, he has really kicked it up a notch. Pagan is coming off a six-game stretch during which he scored at least one run in each contest and went 11-for-25 at the plate all while batting leadoff. His .332 OBA is nothing special, but if he remains in the leadoff spot, as appears to be the safe, he should see an uptick in runs and stolen-base opportunities as a catalyst for the Giants. Mixed: $11; NL: (already owned but uptick in value).

Eric Young Jr. - Young was in the lineup and batted leadoff for the third game in a row Wednesday, and went 8-for-14, including an inside-the-park home run over that brief stretch. He platoons with Tyler Colvin in right field for the most part, but both Colvin and Young started that one as Carlos Gonzalez got the night off. An everyday role could be in the offing for Young given his strong performances as a leadoff sparkplug during those three starts. Colvin can also play first base if needed, which would open an everyday spot in right field for Young with Michael Cuddyer on the DL. His ability to get on-base and steal when there enhances his value making him worth a look in deeper, in addition to single-league, formats for at least the short-term. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.