This article is part of our AL FAAB Factor series.
Article first appeared 5/4/08
This is our weekly look at the free agents in each league. We have two goals with 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 NL or Mixed, we'll specify)
- 5x5 categories
- Each team has a $100 FAAB budget.
Nick Adenhart - Adenhart's major league debut was a bit of a disaster. He completely lost the strike zone, walking five in his two innings of work while giving up five runs to the A's, who subsequently ran through the Angels' bullpen on Thursday. The control issues are not a new issue for Adenhart, who walked 15 batters in 31 innings before his promotion from Triple-A Salt Lake. Adenhart will probably get a couple more starts, but it'll be his slot that gets occupied by John Lackey when Lackey returns from the DL. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Bartolo Colon - I don't get the fascination with Colon. He's not the same pitcher that once (illegitimately) won the Cy Young award. He can't stay healthy, and he doesn't have his once-dominant fastball. Occasionally he'll put together a good 3-4 game stretch, only to get hurt again. If Jon Lester continues to have control problems, Colon might get a shot to fill Lester's slot, but I don't see it lasting. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Kevin Mulvey - Mulvey had a rocky outing on Saturday, but prior to that outing he had pitched pretty well for Triple-A Rochester, and has struck out 34 batters in 33 innings. Scott Baker's re-injury of his groin on Saturday might create a vacancy in the Twins' rotation, and Mulvey is one of the better candidates to get that shot, though he's behind Kevin Slowey in the pecking order. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
A.J. Murray - Murray stepped in to fill a vacancy created by Kason Gabbard's injury and pitched reasonably well to get the win against the A's on Saturday. He's making the transition from relieving to starting this year, and his results have been passable, with a 4.18 ERA and a 24:9 K:BB in 28 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma. Kason Gabbard is expected to come off the DL on Thursday, so it looks like this will be a one-and-done start, but don't be surprised to see Murray back again later this year. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Garrett Olson - Olson stepped in on two days' rest to make his 2008 debut, and performed admirably against the Rays early this week to get the victory. Olson's walk rate was a problem last year when he got called up, and that concerned didn't get completely addressed so far, with him walking five in 6.2 innings on Tuesday and 11 walks in 24.1 innings at Triple-A before that. Still, as as we've argued previously, the O's need to be giving Olson a full opportunity to pitch regularly this year with the big league club, rather than waste those starts on a non-entity like Steve Trachsel. Until Adam Loewen returns from the DL, they won't have that decision to make, so we'll see at least a few more starts from Olson. Mixed: $1; AL: $9.
Darrell Rasner - Philip Hughes is out and Ian Kennedy has been sent down, so this looks like a good opportunity for Rasner to get an extended run in the Yankees' rotation. Rasner has gone 4-0 in five starts this season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre while posting an 0.87 ERA to go along with a nice 27:6 K:BB ratio. He hasn't been able to maintain that strikeout rate in previous major league trials, however, so be wary of investing too much trust in him. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.
James Simmons - By request, one speculative mention here of Simmons, the A's 2007 first-round pick. There's been a lot of speculation that Simmons will be among the first from his draft class to reach the major leagues, given the A's aggressive approach with him. So far he's holding up well, posting a 1.45 ERA and a 28:4 K:BB over 31 innings at Double-A Midland. The A's have a number of young arms to try out this year, so it might not be until September until he gets his first major league trial. Mixed and AL: $0.
Kevin Slowey - Slowey struck out nine in a rehab start in a rehab start for Triple-A Rochester on Thursday and appears ready to return from the DL and his biceps tendinitis. That need to bring him back may be more acute following Scott Baker aggravating his groin injury on Saturday. The strikeouts haven't yet translated at the major league level for Slowey, who, like Baker when he first came up, has had an excellent walk-rate but has given up a lot of homers and flyballs generally. Mixed: $1; AL: $6.
Francisco Cruceta - Fernando Rodney, Joel Zumaya and Denny Bautista on the DL, and Jason Grilli in Colorado, there's a wide-open opportunity for Cruceta and Aquilino Lopez to take over the primary set-up jobs for the Tigers. Cruceta was late to arrive in the States because of visa problems, but had 15 strikeouts and a 1.29 ERA in seven innings at Triple-A Toledo. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Bob McCrory - Before the O's acquired George Sherrill, McCrory was a darkhorse closer candidate after filling that role between High-A and Double-A last year. He's been doing the same this year at Triple-A Norfolk, but the his strikeout and walk rates indicate that even if he does get that shot with Baltimore, he probably won't find much success. Mixed and AL: No.
Edwar Ramirez - With the troubles that the Yankees had to get games from the starters to Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera, a good stretch by Ramirez could ensconce him in a valuable role. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Jeff Clement - We're listing Clement at catcher, even though in many leagues he doesn't qualify there yet. He played four games at DH in the majors last year without logging any at catcher. That positional question is somewhat fitting for Clement. The Mariners just gave Kenji Johjima a three-year contract extension, and even without that move there was some speculation that Clement's size would force him out from behind the plate. Look for him to get just as much time at DH, if not more, than at catcher. His bat is ready right now, however, and has been since coming on strong over the second half of 2007. We'll provide two bid suggestions - one if he doesn't qualify yet at catcher, one if he does. Mixed: $2/$8; AL: $10/$25.
Chad Moeller - Moeller will get a few starts against lefties while Jose Molina takes over the majority of the playing time behind the plate. There's precious little upside with Moeller, but if you're a desperate Jorge Posada owner in an AL-only league, he's available for your minimum bid. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Wilson Betemit - Betemit is due back from the DL, and while Morgan Ensberg is getting most of the third base starts with Alex Rodriguez out, Betemit will move in and get some of those at-bats as well. He doesn't do one thing particularly well, but he'll be useful across the board. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Morgan Ensberg - Ensberg is getting most of the playing time at third base while Alex Rodriguez is on the DL. It's not that long ago that Ensberg had a 36-homer season (2005), so there's still some latent power potential. What's disturbing about the last season-and-a-half with Ensberg is that his once excellent plate discipline has disappeared. Is it because opposing pitchers no longer are afraid to challenge him, a change in his approach, or something else? Unless that can get addressed, we can't invest too much hope in him returning to form. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Mike Lowell - Just in case his owner dropped Lowell when he went on the DL, he's back now and playing every day. The fact that Lowell's injury was to his thumb is worrisome in terms of his power outlook, and he's yet to homer so far this year. Still, this makes him a good buy-low option. Mixed: $8.
Robb Quinlan - Quinlan has picked up 10 of his 18 at-bats this season in the last week, thanks to all of the Angels' infield injuries. He could get even more time over the next week or two if Chone Figgins is forced to the sidelines for any appreciable amount of time. He's made his reputation as a lefty-killer, but he hasn't been doing much of that lately, though he also hasn't had much in the way of regular playing time since 2006. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Chris Shelton - When the Rangers decided to call up Shelton, they essentially opted to write off Jason Botts, who is essentially the same player as Shelton, only that he can switch-hit. Shelton is going to split time at first base with Ben Broussard, though it won't be a strict platoon - Shelton will get some at-bats against righties as well. His hot start at Oklahoma notwithstanding, Shelton has stagnated since being the buzz of fantasy owners in April and May of 2006. He'll hit for power, he'll strike out often, and take his share of walks. Mixed: $2; AL: $12.
Ramon Vazquez - Since Hank Blalock's trip to the DL, Vazquez has received more playing time at third base ahead of German Duran. If you recall last season, when Blalock first went on the DL, Vazquez had an uncharacteristic power outburst, only to settle down to his regular non-slugging ways. Don't be fooled by his recent hot streak at the plate - he'll gravitate towards his true level soon enough. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Brandon Wood - Wood got called up on Monday to give the Angels a little more infield depth with Maicer Izturis sidelined, a move that appears to be prescient following delayed returns by both Izturis and Howie Kendrick. With Chone Figgins also banged up now, the Angels might be forced to start Wood at shortstop, with Erick Aybar sliding over to second base. Before he got the call, Wood was doing what he does best for Triple-A Salt Lake, hitting for power and striking out. Whether he can overcome his strike zone issues will determine if he can become Troy Glaus or Dallas McPherson. Raw power like Wood's is hard to fine, though, so it's worth taking at least a small gamble on him. Mixed: $2; AL: $9.
Robinson Cano - According to our readers, Cano has been dropped in a number of leagues. That just pains me to see, because that never happens in the leagues that I play in. Yes, Cano is hitting poorly right now, but how many years of production do we need to see that this slow start is a fluke? Cano is hitting just .156 on balls in play - that number is sure to rise, especially in seeing that his contact rate hasn't changed. Mixed: whatever it takes to get him, at least $20, if he's somehow available.
Eider Torres - Both the O's and Giants are going with the unique approach of not having a major league caliber shortstop on their active roster, and Torres is the latest to get a chance to demonstrate his skills. Torres can steal a bag or two, but for him to do so, he's going to have to get on base first. His ability to do so against major league pitching remains rather questionable. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Wladimir Balentien - Credit the Mariners for recognizing that Balentien can help this team right now, at least more so than either Brad Wilkerson or Willie Bloomquist was in right field. It's somewhat surprising that they fully cut bait on Wilkerson, but Balentien is going to hit for some power and can take a walk. Just be aware that his production will probably come at the cost of hurting your batting average. Mixed: $9; AL: $29.
Brandon Boggs - Boggs was off to a good start this year at Triple-A Oklahoma after a somewhat slowly developing minor league career. He was part of the Rangers' roster shakeup at the start of the week, and has been in the starting lineup for all five games since his recall. Marlon Byrd is due back in about a week, so don't empty the wallet on Boggs given his playing time uncertainty going forward. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Emil Brown - Let's compare two players:
Player A: 33 years-old, .281/.306/.412, 26 RBI, one-year, $1.45M contract with a potential $1.5M in performance bonuses signed this offseason.
Player B: 31 years-old, .168/.203/.319, 15 RBI, three-year, $36M contract signed this offseason.
Yes, that's right, it's cheapshot time for the AL FAAB Factor. Player A obviously is Brown, Player B is Jose Guillen. Brown hasn't been that great, except that he's been at the plate often with runners on-base, and is converting those opportunities. The signing of Frank Thomas hasn't cut into his playing time - instead, it's Jack Cust sitting more frequently. Mixed: $4.
David Dellucci- Dellucci is the one corner outfielder not struggling for the Indians, and he's been moved up in the lineup accordingly. 2007 was a lost season for him thanks to a torn hamstring, but he's bounced back well in 2008, hitting .279/.367/.471 heading into Sunday's game. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.
Brandon Moss - Moss just caught a tough break. He was earning extra playing time to fill in for injured outfielders J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury, when he underwent an emergency appendectomy on Saturday night. He'll likely go on the DL on Sunday. Mixed and AL: No.
Reggie Willits - When the Angels were spinning their wheels last season, it was Willits who spurred a turnaround in their offense, along with the resurgence of Chone Figgins. He's gotten the call again, and while he's not guaranteed a starting spot, he's supplanted Juan Rivera as the Angels' fourth outfielder. The Angels have used him to give Gary Matthews and Vladimir Guerrero days off the last two days. Willits offers a good batting eye and the potential to steal once he gets on-base. Mixed: $1; AL: $9.