This article is part of our AL FAAB Factor series.
Article first appeared 8/24/08
This is our weekly look at the free agents in each league. We have two goals for 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.
Brandon Duckworth - Duckworth was called up for a spot start for the Royals on Sunday. With a 4.75 ERA and 1.34 WHIP for Triple-A Omaha, it's unlikely he'll fool many major league hitters this time around. Mixed: no. AL: no.
Kyle Davies - The Royals called up Davies when Ron Mahay was placed on the DL. He was his typical mediocre self in a loss to the Tigers Saturday. Hittable pitchers with below-average strikeout and walk rates do not make good fantasy options. Mixed: no. AL: no.
Dana Eveland/Dan Meyer - Eveland and Meyer were both called up to make starts this weekend, but neither has ever been able to do much with their major league opportunities so far. Still, with both Justin Duchscherer and Sean Gallagher out with injuries, one or both of them could stick in the rotation the rest of the season as an audition for 2009. Eveland is the more promising option of the two if you're looking ride a wave over the final five weeks of the season. Eveland: Mixed: $1. AL: $4. Meyer: Mixed: no. AL: no.
Chris Lambert - Lambert will make his major league debut against the Indians Tuesday. Once a rising prospect in the Cardinals system, Lambert is now close to journeyman status. In 149.1 innings with Triple-A Toledo this season, he has a 3.50 ERA and a nice 124:48 K:BB ratio. Mixed: no. AL: $2.
Brandon McCarthy - McCarthy, who had a lengthy rehab from a shoulder injury, finally made his season debut Saturday. He threw 75 pitches in four innings, giving up only a run and three hits, but also walking four. He obviously had a bit of rust, but he should be fine going forward. Mixed: $1. AL: $3.
Radhames Liz - Liz's 15 major league starts - including 11 this year - have been a disaster, but he was called up once again to join the Baltimore rotation. Liz has electric stuff, but has never been able to harness it. In a deep keeper league, he's worth a buck in case he turns things around in September, but don't hold your breath. Mixed: no. AL: $1.
John Parrish - Parrish started four games for Toronto earlier this year and was adequate, but the Blue Jays moved him to the bullpen and then demoted him earlier this month. He's scheduled to start on Aug. 28 against Tampa Bay, but don't expect much. Mixed: no. AL: no.
Tim Wakefield - Wakefield expects to be activated from the DL in time to start Tuesday's tilt with the Yankees. Although his 7-8 record pales in comparison to last year's 17-12, he's actually pitched much better this year. If his shoulder holds up, he could be in line to win a few games as the Red Sox make their pennant push. Mixed: $2. AL: $11.
Jim Johnson/Kameron Mickolio - With George Sherrill on the DL, the O's called up the 6'9" Mickolio and have him slated for middle relief. He pitched well for Triple-A Norfolk, and might have a decent future, but he doesn't need to be on your radar right now. Johnson, on the other hand, could be in line for some saves. He's been a good set-up man this year, but a low strikeout rate and BABIP might have more to do with that than any innate skill. Still, he'll have the opportunity. Johnson: Mixed: $2. AL: $12. Mickolio: Mixed: no. AL: no.
Chris Smith - Smith was called up when the Red Sox sent Clay Buchholz down. This is Smith's fourth stint with the Red Sox this year and he only has 8.1 innings to show for it. He has nice numbers in the minors this year, but at 27 he should be striking out minor leaguers. Mixed: no. AL: no.
Kip Wells - The Royals signed Wells as a low-risk option last week. He'll pitch out of the pen and probably won't be considered as a spot starter the last month of the season. Nothing to recommend here. Mixed: no. AL: no.
Dan Wheeler - Some speculated that Grant Balfour would be first in line for saves after the injury to Troy Percival, but Wheeler has taken the opportunity away from Balfour with saves in four straight perfect performances. Wheeler could save a lot of games in the two or three more weeks Percival is out. Mixed: $10. NL: $33.
Dave Ross - Ross was signed to a minor league contract by the Red Sox. He'll be brought up as a third catcher when the Red Sox expand their roster, but probably won't see much playing time. Mixed: no. AL: no.
Jose Bautista - With Scott Rolen dealing with a shoulder injury, Bautista, acquired from the Pirates on Aug. 21, could step right into the starting lineup at third. He was a middling power hitter in Pittsburgh and will be the same in Toronto. Mixed: no. AL: $5.
Hank Blalock - Blalock's injuries have kept him out of about 100 games already this season (after he missed 104 last season), but the Rangers are putting him at first this time around to prevent some wear and tear. Blalock has some nice pop, but he'll surely be rusty and will be focused on learning a new position. Don't bet on the 2003-2004 Blalock. Mixed: $5. AL: $12.
Christopher Davis - Offensively, Davis' value won't change much when Blalock returns. However, he'll shift over to third and could earn eligibility there for 2009, so those in keeper leagues might want to take note. Mixed: $1. AL: $15.
Joaquin Arias and Ramon Vazquez - Arias was called up when Ian Kinsler was diagnosed with a sports hernia. While there have been rumblings that Kinsler may try to return before the end of the season, the Rangers will probably do the prudent thing and shut him down. Until Kinsler returns, Arias and Vazquez will likely platoon at second, with Vazquez getting the majority of the at-bats and Arias providing the majority of the fantasy value thanks to his speed. Arias: Mixed: No. AL: $8. Vazquez: Mixed: No. AL: $3.
Coco Crisp - With J.D. Drew likely headed to the DL, Crisp will play every day in center in the near future. He'll provide plenty of steals and a won't-hurt-you-too-much batting average down the stretch. Mixed: $3 AL: $12.
Joey Gathright - We all know that Gathright can steal a base (he has 21 steals in just 84 games this season), but he never seems to do much with the opportunities he's gotten. Well, thanks to injuries to Alex Gordon and Mitchell Maier, a spot has opened up for Gathright in the everyday lineup, so expect zero homers and a lot of steals from Gathright down the stretch. Mixed: $1. AL: $11.
Jason Lane - The Red Sox signed Lane to a minor league contract as a depth guy for the stretch run. He'll likely get called up when rosters expand and hit a homer or two, but he's not a strong candidate for playing time. Mixed: no. AL: $1.
Hideki Matsui - Matsui missed two months with a knee injury, but stepped right back into the lineup as the DH on August 19th and has already hit two homers in his return. It's unlikely he was dropped in any AL leagues while he was hurt, but some mixed-league owners might have gotten impatient and let him go. Mixed: $20.
Travis Hafner - Last season's disappointment was bad enough, but Hafner has hit rock bottom this year. He had only four home runs and a .217 batting average before getting knocked out of action with a strained shoulder three months ago. His rehab has gone slowly but the Indians are close to activating him. He could provide some power down the stretch, but it doesn't look like he can handle the strain of playing every day. Bid conservatively. Mixed: $6. AL: $19.