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MLB Barometer: The Waiting Game

Howard Bender

Howard Bender

Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. For more from him, you can find his personal musings on his blog RotobuzzGuy.com or follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy. For questions, thoughts or comments you can email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com.

The word of the day today, my friends, is patience. It is the word today, it will be the word tomorrow and it will be the word the day after that. As a matter of fact, patience is going to be the word of the day every day for at least the next two weeks. It cannot be stressed enough.

You did all the prep work you could have possibly done. You created depth charts and spread sheets, charted player projections, studied player profiles and potential lineups, and plotted a fool-proof draft strategy. You did everything you could have possibly done to get ready for your draft. Did it go off without a hitch? Was it perfect? Probably not. There's always a hiccup or two. It's inevitable. But being as prepared as you were, you were able to roll with the punches, zig when others zagged, and in the end you came out with a rock solid team. Now you just need to trust the process and be patient.

Even if you had to change some things up in your draft strategy, you need to give your team some time before mixing things up. Let it marinate for a bit. Only then will it reveal to you where you need help the most. Doing it now may feel like you're being proactive, but you're still basing things on projections rather than actual performance. Ever see that scene in the second Bad News Bears installment where the whole Astrodome crowd starts chanting, “Let them play!”? That's what you need to do right now. Just give the guys whom you drafted, the players you yourself hand-picked, an opportunity to prove their actual value. Making a bunch of roster moves or trades now before the season has even begun can be a disaster, ultimately causing you more harm than good.

We've seen it a million times over the years. You get a nervous owner who starts to over-think things before a single game is even played and suddenly he's making a dozen add/drops, believing that he's improving his team when all he's doing is spinning his wheels and wasting free-agent dollars. Either that or he's setting himself up as prey for the league sharks who smell his nervousness as if it were blood in the water. He ends up making a trade that he believes will help him but ultimately his quick fix is going to harm him in the long run while strengthening the squad of your competition. Unless of course, you're that shark.

So relax. Take a deep breath. Be patient. Understand that it's a long season and that so many things can change over time. Some players may surprise you, some may disappoint. But you'll never truly know until you give them some time to play and prove their actual value.

That being said, if you just can't help yourself, here's a look at the players who seem to be rising in value and which ones might not be who you thought they were.

Movin' On Up

Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF BOS - Rookie of the Year in the making? Who knows? We always say not to get caught up in spring numbers, but a .441 average with two home runs, 12 RBI and two stolen bases has at least opened the door for the 22-year-old who possesses modest power and plus-speed. Though the decision has not yet been finalized, the handwriting is on the wall and it appears as if Bradley will be starting in left field on Opening Day while Jonny Gomes moves to the DH spot, replacing the injured David Ortiz. Given the shortcomings of Gomes' overall game, it is very possible that if Bradley continues to play well, he'll get the opportunity to stay even when Ortiz returns. He's an early-season gamble, but one who just might pay off.

Chris Getz, 2B KC - Well, again it took all spring, but Getz finally beat out Johnny Giavotella for the starting job at second base in Kansas City. He doesn't have much in the way of power and his speed is maybe worth 15-20 steals over the course of a full season, but he can be a serviceable player for you. If you drafted Jurickson Profar and need a placeholder until he finally gets the call, Getz could be a nice low-end option. If you haven't drafted and don't want to make a large investment at the position, he'll probably be available to you in the later rounds. He certainly isn't going to win you any league titles, but he also won't hurt you in your quest for the brass ring.

Tyson Ross, SP SD –In what might be one of the bigger shocks this spring, the Padres are expected to announce Ross as their fifth starter over the highly-touted Andrew Cashner. There's nothing particularly exciting about his past numbers and while his spring ERA sits at 2.57, he's sporting an 11.4-percent walk rate which, by regular season standards is pretty awful. But Petco Park is where mediocre pitchers go to excel and even with the fences coming in, Ross induces enough gopher balls for that to not matter. His defense, early on, might be a bit shaky so I wouldn't consider him for my starting rotation just yet, but if you're looking for pitching depth in an NL-only league, he may warrant consideration.

Kyle Lohse, SP MIL - The moans and groans you here are the sounds of Brewers fans who seem to be disappointed in the recent signing of the veteran right-hander. However, criticisms of Lohse should be kept to a minimum after looking at his recent numbers. No, he's not a strikeout guy at all, but you're looking at a pitcher who, in the last two years, has a 3.11 ERA (3.59 FIP) with a 1.13 WHIP over nearly 400 innings. From 2011 to 2012 he not only improved his ratios, but he also improved on both his walk and strikeout rates while maintaining solid groundball rates and a better-than-average HR/FB mark. He's not blowing anyone away with his 89 mph fastball, but he's been savvy enough to keep the hitters in check.

Vernon Wells, OF NYY - While most of the attention focuses on his poor batting average and ridiculous contract, people forget that he's hit more than 25 home runs in two of the last three seasons. Are the skills declining? Sure. But there's still plenty of power in that bat and a move to hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium with an opportunity to play full time for at least the first two months of the season gives him a significant boost in value. He's a pull hitter with just 318 feet to clear down the left field line and should he perform up to task to open the year, he could slide into that DH spot once Curtis Granderson returns. If you can withstand the batting average, he could be a great value now with potentially even more value down the road. And he certainly isn't costing you much to boot.

Circling the Bowl

Pablo Sandoval, 3B SF - As if the third base position couldn't get any worse, right? While the most recent report says that Kung Fu Panda should be ready to go for Opening Day, you can't help but to be concerned over the elbow pain he is experiencing from nerve irritation caused by a bone spur. They say that surgery isn't necessary at this time, but the season hasn't even begun yet and he is requiring time off from games to let the pain subside. If you're an owner or plan to be one this weekend, make sure you put together a strong contingency plan.

Bruce Rondon, RP DET - The Tigers' closer of the future who consistently hits triple-digits on the radar gun is officially starting the season down in Triple-A while he learns to improve his command. His talent has never been in question, but he's been consistently falling behind in counts which has allowed the hitters to wait him out and hit him around this spring. His value takes a significant hit right now as it could be at least a month or two before we even think about seeing him again. Possibly even longer.

Casper Wells, OF SEA - How bad do you have to be to get beaten out by an old and decrepit Jason Bay for the backup outfielder job in Seattle? I'll tell you how bad - how about a .189 spring average with a 33.9 percent strikeout rate? Absolutely pathetic. It's not like Wells was headed towards super-stardom here as he was more likely to land a platoon role to showcase his talents against left-handed pitching, but he even blew that chance with his pitiful spring showing. He'll likely find his way back up to the big club later on in the year, but if he's sitting on your roster right now, you can happily make a change for the better with almost anyone else.

Bruce Chen, SP KC - It's not like Chen was posting any sort of killer value anyway, but he certainly had his moments of value if you are into the whole streaming pitchers thing. Now, what little value he did have is all but gone as he lost the battle for the fifth starter's job to Luis Mendoza and will now be pitching out of the bullpen, probably in some long-relief/mop-up duty sort of role. Even in the deepest of AL-only leagues he can be dropped.

Nolan Arenado, 3B COL - For now, it's time to put the excitement on hold as it was finally announced that, despite an outstanding spring, Arenado would not be starting the season with the big club. There was really nothing more he could do as Chris Nelson amped up his game enough over the past week and a half to keep the Rockies thinking about Arenado's arbitration clock. That being said, there is still a strong chance we see him sooner than later, depending on what he does with Triple-A pitching as well as how the current Rockies infield configuration handles the beginning of the season. Josh Rutledge still has a lot to prove, as does the rag-tag group of backup infielders the Rockies have chosen to use. If you can stash Arenado, do it. He could be back sooner than later.

Editor's Note: The Barometer will be posted on Sundays beginning April 7th.

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