This article is part of our AL FAAB Factor series.
Article first appeared 7/20/08
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.
Dallas Braden - Braden will move into the A's rotation following the Joe Blanton deal, beginning with Tuesday's start against the Rays. The Rays have been awfully good at home, but they've also had some problems against lefties, so the indicators for Tuesday are a mixed bag. Braden pitched well for Triple-A Sacramento this year, mostly as a starter, posting a 2.36 ERA and 54:11 K:BB over 53.1 innings. Last year's trial as a starter didn't work out so well for him, but he might eventually profile as a fourth starter. His performance might dictate when the A's give Gio Gonzalez a shot. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
R.A. Dickey - The news on Erik Bedard being out at least for another week or two means that Dickey will get a few more starts, and he's pitched reasonably well in the role. Alas, his next start is on Tuesday against the Red Sox, so you'll probably want to wait until next week to insert him into your lineup, when he'll have two starts. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Nick Masset- Masset will probably start on Tuesday in place of the injured Jose Contreras, after D.J. Carrasco pitched in relief of John Danks on Sunday. Masset pitched on both Friday and Saturday, so he won't be asked to work too deep, and in fact probably won't get in the minimum five innings to qualify for a win, so don't spot him this week. Mixed and AL: No.
Garrett Olson - Olson's name has surfaced on a number of free agent lists following a pretty rocky stretch, including in my NFBC league. There's still some upside with Olson, but he's going through some typical rookie growing pains. Of particular concern is the degradation of his strikeout and walk rates. Put Olson in the class of pitchers that might be worth a gamble if your team is in need of a few gambles. If you're trying to protect your position in ERA or WHIP, he doesn't belong on your radar now. Mixed and AL: $1.
D.J. Carrasco - Carrasco is right back with the White Sox after Jose Contreras had to go on the DL on Sunday. Carrasco pitched three innings in relief on Sunday, so Nick Masset will probably fill in for Cotreras on Tuesday. Carrasco has had two good outings in long relief, however, so if Masset flops at all, he could be tabbed for a few spot starts in the ensuing weeks. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Justin Masterson- Masterson could be back with the Red Sox ahead of schedule, this time as a reliever, thanks to David Aardsma's injury. If that doesn't happen, he's still expected to join the team on Friday. Either way, his role for the current term will be a little different, giving the Red Sox an extra arm in the bullpen, perhaps as a long man. If you are looking at him as a keeper, chances are you already held onto him. Don't look for him to get many chances to start for this year, however. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Troy Percival - Percival was activated from the DL and hamstring injury on Sunday, and he'll immediately take back his closer's job. He got in an inning of work on Sunday, allowing two runners but avoiding any runs allowed. If you have Percival, use him, but hang onto the insurance policies of Grant Balfour and/or Dan Wheeler if you grabbed them while he was out. Mixed: $15.
J.J. Putz - Putz is back from the DL, and while he won't close initially, he's ticketed for the role soon enough. Because there's some risk of re-injury, he probably doesn't make for a good trade target. Wait to see him for at least an outing or two before pulling the trigger, and check for reports on his velocity. Mixed: $20.
Al Reyes - Reyes is back from the DL, but he might not take over the primary set-up duties he once had. Both Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour have pitched reasonably well in Reyes' absence, and Troy Percival is back from his DL trip. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Taylor Teagarden - Despite his game-winning homer on Sunday, Teagarden is slated to head back to Triple-A Oklahoma on Monday, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia expected to be available to play again. Teagarden got passed over by Max Ramirez when Gerard Laird got hurt because he had a sore shoulder and was sidelined at the time. Despite Ramirez's minor league numbers, Teagarden is considered by many to be a better prospect - he's stronger defensively, and can still hold his own with the bat. His biggest problem as a professional has been staying on the field - he's had multiple significant injuries. Look for him to get another look in September. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Wes Bankston - Thanks to Daric Barton's unfortunate Aquaman impersonation over the break, Bankston is back with the big league club after a short trip to Sacramento. He left Saturday's game with dehydration and cramps and had to sit out on Sunday, but he'll split time with Jack Hannahan at third base until Barton is ready to return. Don't put too much stock in Bankston's decent Triple-A numbers - this is his third year at the level, and he's doing it in the offense-friendly PCL. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Hank Blalock - Blalock is back from the DL after his odyssey on the DL, and the Rangers have inserted him back at third base, rather than inserting him at first as they had first planned. Their decision to do so reflects an organizational commitment to play Chris Davis at first, which might also signal their intentions heading into the trade deadline. Blalock probably won't garner much interest due to his extended DL stint, but don't be surprised to see the Rangers peddle Milton Bradley or Vicente Padilla, among other veterans. As for Blalock, He's been one of the bigger fantasy busts this year, but if he can stick with the Rangers, you'll at least get a half-season out of him hitting in one of the better ballparks in the majors. Mixed: $10; AL: $30.
Billy Butler- Butler homered both on Friday and Saturday and is back to hitting in the middle of the Royals' lineup. Along with a few other shakeups in their order, it appears that the Royals are finally making the commitment to play Butler regularly, a necessary change for them to look towards the future. We'll assume that Butler is long gone in AL leagues, but in a handful of mixed leagues he still might be out there. Mixed: $10.
Bryan LaHair - The Mariners are finally giving LaHair to fill the left-handed side of their first base platoon, after calling him up after the All-Star break. LaHair accomplished almost all of his production with Triple-A Tacoma against righties, hitting .287/.392/.529 with 11 of his 12 homers, as opposed to .183/.227/.254 against lefties. What could have possibly worked for the Mariners was a LaHair/Richie Sexson platoon (more on his splits in a second). Instead, they'll roll out Miguel Cairo against most lefties. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Richie Sexson - Sexson will start almost exclusively against lefties over the final 10-plus weeks of the regular season. Even with his awful 2008 season, Sexson has pounded lefties to the tune of .338/.429/.600. Yankee Stadium is pretty tough on right-handed power-hitters, A-Rod's prowess notwithstanding, but then again, Sexson was never really helped by Safeco either. Mixed: $1; AL: $8.
Asdrubal Cabrera - Cabrera got his feet back under him on his five-week option to Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .326/.375/.475 in 141 at-bats there. Now he's back and set to play most every game, though he sat out on Saturday. Cabrera is a natural shortstop, and played 29 of his 34 games at Buffalo there, but so far he's played second base in his first two starts since coming back. There is some thought that the Indians plan to move Jhonny Peralta over to third base and install Cabrera at shortstop, but they haven't gone that route yet. When looking at Cabrera's early-season struggles, keep in mind that he's still just 22 years old. There's plenty of time to establish himself as a major leaguer. If I had a choice on a middle infielder between Cabrera and Jed Lowrie, I'd go with Cabrera. Mixed: $1; AL: $9.
Juan Castro - This is how desperate that the Orioles' shortstop situation has become. That they gave up a carbon-based life form to acquire Castro with the intention of playing him at shortstop speaks volumes. Ignore Castro's .300 batting average at Triple-A Colorado Springs - hitting there is the equivalent of hitting on the moon. Castro, El Manos de Oro, was hired for his glove, not his bat. What's truly amazing is that the Orioles have nobody in their farm system that Castro could possibly be holding back. If they are sellers at the deadline, as they should be, shortstop must be a position that they address. Mixed and AL: No.
Bobby Crosby - Crosby went longer than usual before his first DL trip of the year, and now he's back. Unfortunately, his best selling point so far is that he's been more durable than usual this year. He's not hitting for significant power or average, and isn't running a whole lot. At best, his regular playing time could help you with runs and RBI if you're rolling out a part-time player in your middle infield slots. Mixed: $0; AL: $7.
Brian N. Anderson - Anderson came into the game to replace the injured Jermaine Dye on Sunday in right field, and could get a few starts there if Dye's knee injury is at all serious. Anderson had a flurry of playing time when Paul Konerko was on the DL, but not much recently. The White Sox get three home games against the tater-ific Rangers pitching staff to start the week, so if it looks like Anderson will play, he's a decent spot start in deeper leagues. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Mark Teahen - Teahen has spent the last two games batting leadoff for the Royals. He has the ability to take a few walks and might be better suited to hit there than in the middle of the lineup, where he was expected to knock in more runs. This switch doesn't necessarily change his value, though it might give him a few more runs scored or afford him more running opportunities. Mixed: $5.
David Ortiz - Ortiz isn't going to be a free agent really in any league, but you might focus on him as a second half trade target. He's due back on Friday, and has already hit three homers in three games on his rehab assignment for Triple-A Pawtucket. The Red Sox had the luxury of taking the deliberate path in rehabbing Ortiz's wrist injury, and might have had the side benefit of allowing him to rest his knee during this rehab stint. Going after him now in trade talks won't be much of a gamble.
Mike Sweeney - Once thought to be out for most of the season, it now looks as if Sweeney could be back before Frank Thomas for the A's. That said, his window to fill the DH slot, almost exclusively against lefties, will be pretty short, with Thomas due back the first week of August. Save your FAAB dollars for someone who will play more often. Mixed: No; AL: $2.