This article is part of our AL FAAB Factor series.
Article first appeared 8/3/08
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.
Dana Eveland - Eveland was demoted by the A's on Sunday after his most recent disastrous start against the Red Sox. He hasn't worked into the seventh inning since June 27, and has seen his ERA rise by over a run since then. His last three starts have been particularly rough. A lot of the mileage that the A's have gotten from Eveland and Greg Smith are starting to wear off. Eveland still has some keeper value, but as a fourth or fifth roto starter, not as a potential top of the rotation pitcher. No bid.
Tommy Hunter - Hunter replaced the injured Eric Hurley for a couple of the starts, with his first one being a pretty rough one against the Blue Jays, and his next one is a home start against the Yankees. He was a supplemental first-round pick in the 2007 draft and has rocketed up the Rangers' system, pitching at three different levels this year. He doesn't miss a lot of bats and has a "bad body" for scouts' purposes, and that combo might not work out too well in Texas. Don't knock yourself out to try to get him for keeper leagues. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Francisco Liriano - Swapping Liriano for Livan Hernandez became the Twins' version of a deadline deal, and he returned triumphantly on Sunday against the Indians. He doesn't quite have his pre-surgery velocity, but it's close enough and his command has improved considerably since April. The only complaint we have is how long it took for the Twins to make the swap. They might have gained a game or two in the standings with a July callup. Mixed: $10; AL: $35.
Dan Meyer - Meyer replaces the demoted Dana Eveland in the A's rotation, though he pitched in relief on Sunday. Meyer has 109 strikeouts in 122.2 innings at Sacramento, albeit with 52 walks. The A's clearly lost on the Tim Hudson trade, but with Meyer now up and Tim Hudson going under the knife, there's a chance that this trade could look less egregious a year from now. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Scott Richmond - Richmond has all the trappings of being a typical "Four-A" pitcher putting together a career-year in the minors. He's 28 years old and started the year at Double-A New Hampshire before getting five starts at Triple-A Syracuse. Don't expect him to get more than a handful of starts for the Jays. Mixed and AL: No.
Dennis Sarfate - The Orioles seem to collect high-strikeout, high-walk hurlers. Sarfate is straight out of the Daniel Cabrera statistical mode, having struck out 57 batters in 54 innings, while walking 42. When he was used as a starter in the Brewers' farm system, he had the same statistical package. He's replacing Brian Burres in the rotation now, and while his first start was ugly, it was in Yankee Stadium, and he's still getting stretched out. There's some upside if you're trolling for strikeouts and don't particularly care about your WHIP, but more often than not you should stash him on your bench and avoid the roller coaster. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Jerry Blevins - With the A's opening up the possibility that someone other than Huston Street could close a game or two, Blevins has been mentioned as a late-inning option. He's turned out to be a nice little steal by Billy Beane - he got Blevins in the Jason Kendall deal last year. So far this season, he's struck out 51 batters while walking only nine between Triple-A Sacramento and the majors, over a combined 46 innings. One negative about Blevins is that he's a flyball pitcher, though he hasn't allowed a homer in 13.2 major league innings yet this season. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Brian Bruney - Bruney is back from a torn ligament in his foot after first being ruled out for the season. He'll have to earn the confidence of manager Joe Girardi, but the Yankees' set-up picture has been shaken up following the Kyle Farnsworth trade. Bruney might eventually work his way in there. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Joey Devine - Devine is back from the DL and his elbow injury, after an extended rehab. Don't look for him to take over any save opportunities in the next few weeks - look for him to be treated as if this were a part of his rehab assignment. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Kyle Farnsworth - Farnsworth's possible closer potential took a pretty big hit on Sunday after he allowed three runs in the eighth inning against the Rays, giving up homers to Eric Hinske and B.J. Upton. Of course, Fernando Rodney blew another save in the game, so that whole situation is up in the air for the Tigers. Still, two of the last three outings for Farnsworth have been pretty ugly. In the grand scheme of things it might not matter, but for Jim Leyland's short-term decision-making process, it doesn't bode well. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.
Chris Smith - One of the surprises of the trade deadline was that the Red Sox didn't trade for another reliever, in light of some of their issues there. Smith's performance at Triple-A Pawtucket this year might be one reason for that non-trade. In 52.1 innings there, Smith had a 2.24 ERA and a 47:8 K:BB ratio there. The one statistical flaw for Smith was that he gave up five homers, a little high for a reliever in Pawtucket. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Brad Ziegler - Ziegler and Jerry Blevins could occasionally take away a save opportunity from Huston Street, but don't overvalue that information. My instinct here is that the A's aren't looking to make a long-term change, but perhaps spread out the innings and give guys like Ziegler and Blevins some late-and-tight situations to see if they can handle it. Ziegler's story is great, having thrown 32 scoreless innings to start his major league career. He doesn't miss a lot of bats (15 strikeouts), but he's induced a ton of ground balls, with a 3.33 G/F. Mixed: $2; AL: $9.
Brandon Inge - With Ivan Rodriguez going to the Yankees, Inge will take over the regular catching duties for the Tigers. He has a modicum of pop, and he might be able to help you in OBP leagues, but his batting average is a killer, and one that will be potentially worse with everyday play. Mixed: $1; AL: $6.
Daric Barton - Barton's value really took a dive during the All-Star break, but he's kept his head above water since then and has rejoined the player pool. Bad puns aside, he's had a very disappointing full rookie season, especially after his September debut. Particularly disappointing is the complete evaporation of his power - he slugging just .302 on the season. Perhaps his spring training wrist injury was more enduring than he or the team let on. This trip to the DL might have done him a little bit of good, if that's the case. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.
Travis Metcalf - Metcalf is up to replace the injured Ramon Vazquez, but his prospect luster has diminished. He was hitting just .247/.296/.352 at Triple-A Oklahoma, with a 16:52 BB:K ratio in 227 at-bats. He turns 26 on August 17, meaning that the time for him to produce is right now. Chances are he'll be back down as soon as either Vazquez or Hank Blalock is ready. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Randy Ruiz - Ruiz is a 30-year old making his major league debut, so don't mistake him for a prospect. But when the alternative is Craig Monroe, if you're the Twins, why not give him the chance? Listing Ruiz as a first baseman is pretty charitable - he's really a DH. He'll split the DH duties with Jason Kubel, taking over the right-handed half of the platoon. He's capable of hitting for some power, but a quick look at his Triple-A 23:116 BB:K demonstrates why it took him so long to make it to the majors. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.
Mark Teixeira - Teixeira is a slightly more attractive free agent candidate than Jason Bay if you have the first waiver priority in an AL league, unless you're looking for a little speed (though Teixeira already picked up his first stolen base of the season after joining the Angels). He gets the nod because his batting average is a little safer. The tougher call is if you're in a keeper league and have to retain Teixeira at the price you bid. If your regular season budget is the standard $260, I'd bid in the high $30's. AL: Max.
Erick Aybar- Aybar has lost the playing time battle to Maicer Izturis lately, but Izturis sprained his thumb and could miss a handful of games. Alas, Aybar's defense might stop him from reasserting his control of the starting shortstop job, an issue emphasized by his critical error on Sunday against the Yankees. Still, he's a decent guy to look for a short-term boost in speed. Mixed: $1; AL: $6.
Alex Cintron - Cintron is back from the DL, but he's lost the starting shortstop job for the Orioles to Juan Castro. If Cintron had any sort of offensive upside, this might be an outrage, but it's not the case here. The real outrage is that the O's really don't have a better alternative to either player. Castro at least is a defensive wizard, so it almost makes sense to regularly play him behind the O's young pitching staff. Mixed: No; AL: $0 for the truly desperate.
Esteban German - German is the big beneficiary of the Royals' slew of injuries, most recently Mark Grudzielanek's. In most leagues he already can be slotted at second or third, and pretty soon he'll also qualify in the outfield. German at his best can get on base frequently and has the speed to give you some stolen bases to go with it. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Nick Punto - Alexi Casilla's thumb injury quietly could have a big impact on the AL Central race. Casilla has opted to try to rehab the injury rather than have surgery, but the outlook for his return doesn't look good. Punto will get most of the resulting playing time at second base. We've bashed him often enough in this space - he's a weak link with the bat, but he could get you a few stolen bases. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Ramon Santiago - Tigers manager hinted at making changes in reaction to an ugly series in Tampa Bay. He started Santiago in place of the slumping Edgar Renteria, who has had other bouts of inconsistency. Santiago is hitting .344 right now, but that's not his regular level. He's not going to hit for any sort of power, though he might add a bag or two. Anyhow, look for Santiago and Marcus Thames to play more down the stretch. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.
Jason Smith - The Royals called up Smith when Mark Grudzielanek went on the DL. He has 20 home runs with the O-Royals this season, but also has 128 strikeouts and a .289 OBP. He should serve as a reserve infielder as Mike Aviles, Esteban German and Tony Pena Jr. rotate between second and short. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Jason Bay - The analysis is pretty simple here. If you have the power to get either Mark Teixeira or Bay in your league, do so. I like this trade from the Red Sox point-of-view: they get production from Bay that doesn't compare too badly with Manny Ramirez, for a lot cheaper, and he's locked for a reasonable price in 2009. Bay's stolen bases might not tail off with his new team either - they've shown in the last two years that when they have somebody that can run, they'll let him. Max bid.
Ken Griffey Jr. - Griffey went 2-for-3 with a walk in his White Sox debut, then left with leg cramps in his second game, perfectly demonstrating his positives and negatives. The White Sox plan to use Griffey in center field. I don't think that lasts - his range is terrible these days, and there's still a considerable risk that he gets hurt. AL: $30.