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Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He's also in the FSWA Hall of Fame. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).


Starting Pitchers:

Chase Anderson, Diamondbacks-Anderson's big league debut Sunday against the White Sox was a success as he allowed just a solo homer to Moises Sierra over 5.1 innings, striking out six against two hits and a walk. After getting cuffed around in Triple-A Reno last year, the Diamondbacks made the tough decision to send him back down to Double-A Mobile to begin 2014, where he thrived with a 0.69 ERA and 38:6 K:BB over 39 innings. Don't be surprised if more teams start avoiding the PCL with their pitching prospects, particularly those in high-octane environments like Reno. Anderson is no spring chicken - age 26 - nor does he have the pedigree of organization teammates Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley. Anderson is not a hard thrower, so there's some concern that he'll go back to nibbling as he did in Reno last year once he experiences Chase Field. Bid cautiously. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Jaime Garcia, Cardinals- Joe Kelly has been slow to heal from his hamstring injury, and Garcia looks like he'll beat him back to the rotation, displacing Tyler Lyons. Garcia will start for Triple-A Memphis in a rehab game Monday and might need just one more rehab start after that. Even before his shoulder woes Garcia wasn't a hard thrower or source of significant strikeouts, instead making his living inducing ground balls. Will having Jhonny Peralta as his shortstop hurt his results? He'll still get to benefit from the Cardinals offense, once it emerges from a semi-slumber, so there's still a lot of value to be gained if he can keep the job. Mixed: $2; NL: $8.

Rafael Montero, Mets - The Mets might swap out Jenrry Mejia for Montero as early as Wednesday, after Mejia had another abbreviated start over the weekend. Montero is one of the Mets' top prospects, and could signal the changing of the guard in Taxpayer Field. His fastball works in the low-to-mid 90's and he throws a strong slider and changeup. In 41.2 innings at Triple-A Las Vegas he has a 3.67 ERA and 41:18 K:BB. The only problem is that he's not working too deep into games - that workload has come over eight starts. That's one of the issues why Mejia is in danger of losing his rotation spot, after all. Mixed: $2; NL: $8.

Relief Pitchers:

Jason Grilli, Pirates- Grilli (oblique) could come off the DL soon, maybe even at the end of the week, but he might not close once he returns. Mark Melancon has handled the job with aplomb, building off of what he did last year when Grilli was out. If you have to make a lineup decision this week with him, keep him parked for another week. Mixed: $5.

Catchers:

Devin Mesoraco, Reds- Mesoraco should return from the DL this week. In most leagues where owners have been paying attention he should be available, but there are leagues where only one catcher is required and there are limited DL slots available. In those circumstances, it's probably worth it to jump on Mesoraco, say if you're a Matt Wieters or Wilin Rosario owner. Mesoraco probably will be hitting higher in the order now that Jay Bruce is out and the Reds are struggling to find someone, anyone, to hit behind Todd Frazier. Mixed: $10.

Hector Sanchez, Giants- Brandon Belt's broken thumb has created a big void in the Giants lineup and at first base. At times the Giants will shift Mike Morse to first base, but on other occasions either Sanchez or Buster Posey will man first base, creating room for both catchers in the lineup. Sanchez doesn't make enough contact to hit for high average, but he's got a modicum of power. Mixed: $2; NL: $8.

Corner Infielders:

Kyle Blanks, Padres - Blanks' career has been defined by a series of fits and starts. He's suffered injuries at inopportune times, has had stretches where he hasn't been able to produce when given the chance, however furtive those spots have been, and he's spent other long periods in the major leagues where he has been used sparingly. Unfortunately for him, the pattern appears to be continuing. He finally got the call this week, only to see Carlos Quentin near his return from the DL. Even worse, Blanks isn't starting while Quentin is out, as the Padres still seem fit to let Yonder Alonso suck away at-bats at first base. Blanks is no longer some young prospect, but still could immensely benefit from a change of scenery to an AL team. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Eric Campbell, Mets - Campbell has replaced Josh Satin as the Mets' first base platoon option after hitting .355/.442/.525 in 163 plate appearances at Triple-A Las Vegas. Vegas has one of the better hitting parks in the PCL and Campbell is 27, so apply your usual caveats about his hitting line so far. He'll probably start once a week while he's up. Mixed: No; NL: $1.

Wilmer Flores, Mets - Flores is a tricky prospect to figure out. Once near the top of many organization prospect lists for the Mets, his star faded when the team moved him off shortstop and tried to find a full-time position for him. Meanwhile, his hitting while good hasn't jumped off the page, at least for a player not playing in the middle infield. However, he's back at shortstop now as the Mets have tired of Ruben Tejada's underwhelming offensive output. Flores has a chance to improve from last year's Major League trial, where he spit the bit, hitting .211/.248/.295 in 101 plate appearances. Flores still is 22 so there's plenty of reason for dynasty league players to remain patient. But if you're looking for immediate help, I'd remain skeptical that he can make enough contact to hit for average. Mixed: $2; NL: $10.

Tyler Moore, Nationals - Just two days after he was sent down, Moore is back and has a far better playing time set-up, with Adam LaRoche hitting the DL. Moore has had prodigious power numbers in the minors but has had all sorts of problems making contact. He struck out a lot in the minors too, so this was to be expected, but it's also been exacerbated by sporadic playing time in the majors. This isn't a critique of the Nats - there's no logical spot where Moore has been a better option than the incumbent starter - but it demonstrates how difficult it can be for the non-elite prospect to break into the majors. Mixed: $2; NL: $10.

Mark Reynolds / Lyle Overbay / Jeff Bianchi, Brewers - Aramis Ramirez went on the DL, meaning that the Brewers' lineup can now feature both Reynolds and Overbay if they so desire, though that comes with the caveat that they actually have to watch Reynolds play defense at third base. Kyle Lohse's owners just shuddered at that notion. Jeff Bianchi could also figure into the third base picture. Both Reynolds and Overbay almost certainly are owned in NL leagues. Reynolds - Mixed: $10; Overbay - Mixed: $5, NL: $15; Bianchi - Mixed: No; NL: $3.

Justin Turner, Dodgers-Turner has started the last two games at third base with Juan Uribe hurting. Uribe has made some progress and could avoid the DL, but in case there's a setback, Turner's playing time could see a two-week bump. Check your league's roster-eligibility rules. In standard leagues where 20 games played the previous year is the rule, he only can be slotted at third base. In more liberal formats, he's eligible at all four infield spots. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Middle Infielders:

Reid Brignac, Phillies- Brignac is the latest low upside alternative that the Phillies have dug up to avoid playing Cody Asche at third base every day, after Freddy Galvis and Jayson Nix were shockingly found wanting. What's more illustrative of Brignac's abilities - 30 games in Triple-A this year as a 28-year old, or 815 career major league plate appearances with a .221/.262/.310 line? Don't make the same mistake as manager Ryne Sandberg. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Alex Guerrero, Dodgers- Guerrero continues to rake at Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting .341/.398/.588 in 93 plate appearances there. Naturally, we have to discount for sample size and park effects. However, the team invested $28 million in Guerrero, so at some point they're going to push to get him up with the Dodgers. Dee Gordon and Juan Uribe have killed it so far to start the season, but Gordon has issues hitting left-handers and Uribe is sore. The problem with the latter issue is that Guerrero has exclusively played second base in an effort to get better at the position. Still, if you want to speculate on the cheap rather than pay top dollar rather than get in a bidding war once he gets the call, now is the time. Mixed: $2; NL: $5.

Tommy La Stella, Braves- "Vision Quest" hasn't paid off for Dan Uggla, who is hitting .184/.241/.272 while playing his customary lousy defense. Meanwhile, La Stella is hitting .297/.379/.322 at Triple-A Richmond. That slugging percentage is eye-raising in its austerity (he has, count 'em, three extra-base hits, all doubles), so he fits a lot better in OBP leagues than in your standard formats. He also has just one stolen base in as many attempts, so he doesn't make up for his lack of power there. Mixed: No; NL: $1 speculative bid if you own Uggla.

Kolten Wong, Cardinals - Mark Ellis is hitting just .185 and the Cardinals have given Greg Garcia only nine plate appearances in two weeks since sending Wong down. Meanwhile, Wong has hit .327/.352/.442 at Memphis. Might a change of heart be in the offing? It should be - I believe that the Cardinals pulled the plug on Wong way too soon, as a scapegoat for the team's overall offensive struggles. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

Outfielders:

Gregor Blanco and Tyler Colvin, Giants- Blanco and Colvin will get most of the playing time in left field while Brandon Belt is out, with Michael Morse moving to first base. Blanco is off to a miserable start to the season, hitting .105/.227/.158. He's a source for stolen bases, but the problem with rostering him for your fantasy team is his utter lack of power - he had just 26 extra-base hits in 511 plate appearances last year. In a mixed-league format, those stolen bases aren't enough to account for the shortfalls elsewhere. Colvin has demonstrated throughout his career that it's very difficult to hit for average when you miss the ball nearly 30 percent of the time. Both Blanco and Colvin hit left-handed, so there's no typical platoon possibilities, only one where they favor power over speed and defense. Blanco - Mixed: $1; NL: $8. Colvin - Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Jaff Decker, Pirates- Decker was acquired from the Padres this offseason in an under-the-radar deal for Alex Dickerson, after Decker had been diagnosed for assignment. Once a prized prospect, his on-base skills in the lower levels of the minors didn't translate as well once he reached the upper levels and the majors, and he didn't develop more power as had been expected. He was called up as insurance in case Starling Marte's back injury lingers, and because the Pirates hate their fanbase and would rather save the money that comes from manipulating Gregory Polanco's service time rather than calling up their best prospect. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Gregory Polanco, Pirates- After news leaked about Polanco turning down the Pirates' long-term offer that severely curbed his potential long-term earnings, it now appears that we won't see Polanco in the majors until June. While acknowledging that the Pirates don't cash in from cable revenues like other major league teams, it's not our concern how profitable they are, and moreover they still are insanely profitable. It's a disgrace that he's not up with the team now. Nonetheless, if you've been holding him this long, it's worth it to wait another month, and if he's available, grab him now instead of using a max bid later. Mixed: $5; NL: $15.

Darin Ruf, Phillies-Ruf (oblique) has begun his rehab assignment at High-A Clearwater. The Philies are thinking about playing Marlon Byrd occasionally in center field, which would open up a corner outfield slot for Ruf. This possible defensive disaster alignment demonstrates just how unhappy they are with Ben Revere, though starting Human Offensive White Flag Tony Gwynn Jr. has the same effect. If the defensive shift doesn't work, Ruf will be limited to spot starts against lefties at first base and pinch hit appearances. Mixed: $3; NL: $11.

Carlos Quentin, Padres - Quentin's rehab assignment likely could conclude Sunday, just in time for the Padres to begin a road trip to Cincinnati and Colorado. About the only negative for Quentin is a start against Johnny Cueto, if his activation occurs. In a way he's ideal for a mixed league environment, with replacement level at outfield high enough that you can stream him for road trips (and his token healthy stretches), while inserting someone else for the other times. Mixed: $15; NL: Owned.

Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop a line in the comments section.