RotoWire Partners

AL FAAB Factor: How Much on Galarraga?

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).

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 AL or Mixed, we'll specify)
* 5x5 categories
* Each team has a $100 FAAB budget.


Jake Arrieta – We covered Arrieta before, but with the news that Bradley Bergesen's next start will be skipped and he'll temporarily be moved to the bullpen, along with Arrieta pitching just two innings in relief instead of starting for Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday night, there's plenty of reason to speculate that he'll get the call soon, perhaps as early as Saturday against the Mets. Arrieta has a 1.85 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and a 64:34 K:BB in 73 innings at Norfolk. Mixed: $1; AL; $4.

Boof Bonser – Bonser is set to come off the DL on Monday, with his role still up in the air. There's some thought that he could replace Tim Wakefield in the rotation, or he could pitch in long relief instead. He had an abbreviated outing in his final rehab appearance on Saturday, which could indicate one of two things. Wakefield's next start is on Tuesday, so limiting Bonser to one inning on Saturday might be to put him on schedule with Wakefield, but it could also mean that the Red Sox would want him to work in relief. My guess is that Wakefield will get the start, but Bonser would be the first to come in should Wakefield need a quick hook. Looking at Bonser on the merits, he missed the entire 2009 season with shoulder problems and has been hampered by a groin injury this spring. His numbers haven't been that good in Triple-A, which isn't a surprise for a pitcher coming off of a long layoff. Even if he goes into the rotation, he's someone I'll watch from the sidelines, which is where I bet he'll remain in most leagues. Mixed and AL: No.

Armando Galarraga – Even after his near perfect game, Galarraga remains owned in only 8% of all Yahoo leagues and only 2.2% in ESPN leagues. So yeah, that whole idea of “selling-high” doesn't apply here. There's some value to be had with his ballpark, but in an innings-cap league he's pretty deadly, and he's a hindrance pretty much in any league that counts strikeouts. He does have two starts this week, Tuesday at the White Sox and home against the Pirates. I hate to advocate low strikeout guys merely because they have two good starts, but for what it's worth, these are good matchups. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

Jeremy Hellickson – If Wade Davis' struggles continues, Hellickson is the clear alternative, and he's done nothing to dissuade the Rays from considering him with his performance at Triple-A Durham, posting a 2.28 ERA and 71:17 K:BB in 71 innings. While he appears to be fully blocked, keep in mind that the Rays are in the hyper-competitive AL East and can't afford to backslide. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.

Tommy Hunter – Hunter's complete game win on Saturday is going to have the FAAB wires burning on Sunday night, but the same constraints that had people unconvinced about his staying power last year remain. After coming back from a rib injury at Triple-A Oklahoma City, he averaged fewer than five strikeouts per nine innings there before his promotion, and his 14:11 K:BB is disturbing. Saturday's start notwithstanding, he's not an extreme groundball pitcher either. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.

Vincent Mazzaro – With Brett Anderson back on the DL and Justin Duchscherer out for the season, Mazzaro looks like he'll finally get his first extended look in the rotation for the A's. He's the same high-strikeout high-walk pitcher that he was before though, so expect a lot of variance between starts. Which you might have expected anyhow, given his relative youth and inexperience. I'd only use him if you had to chase wins and K's. If you're in contention in the ERA/WHIP categories, there's too much risk. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.

Ryan Rowland-Smith – Rowland-Smith is back in the rotation for now, with Doug Fister on the DL. Once considered a possible sleeper, Rowland-Smith instead stunk it up to start the season and has a miserable 20:20 K:BB in 46 innings this year. The good news (sort of) for him is that Ian Snell has been nearly equally miserable and Erik Bedard keeps having setbacks. This might be a battle between Rowland-Smith and Snell to see who keeps a rotation spot, and it might not matter if Cliff Lee gets dealt. Mixed: No; AL: $1.


Chad Cordero – Ever so quietly, Cordero had a 22:4 K:BB at Triple-A Tacoma in 19.2 innings there, following last year's rehab season. David Aardsma's job as the closer isn't in immediate danger, and there's no promise that Cordero would take over even if Aardsma lost his job or were traded, but realize that he's there, and that he was signed by the M's last year with him possibly closing someday in mind. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.

Luke French – French was part of the haul for the Jarrod Washburn sell-off last year and gets the roster spot with Doug Fister going on the DL, but for now he'll pitch in long relief. He's a fairly low upside pitcher. Even with a 1.93 ERA in Triple-A Tacoma, French had just 41 K's in 74.2 innings, and that's been his M.O. at previous stops. Mixed and AL: No.

Frank Herrmann – With the Grady Sizemore microfracture knee surgery, the Indians finally caved into reality and started calling up their prospects to play in place of their agents veterans … wait, that's not what happened? While replacing Jamey Wright with Herrmann does represent progress of sorts, it's not exactly the concession the Indians needed to make (*cough* call up Michael Brantley, *cough* play Matt LaPorta everyday please!). Herrmann is a bit of a swingman that gets by on guile more than pure stuff. He isn't an extreme ground ball guy, either. I'd argue that he's unlikely to be a late-inning candidate, but given how regularly I've been wrong about the Indians' bullpen (Tony Sipp, come on down!), your mileage may vary. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Fernando Rodney – In case you needed a reminder to be patient if you're a Rodney owner hoping that he'll get you some saves, Brian Fuentes went out and gave up two runs on a pinch-hit homer by Willie Bloomquist on Thursday afternoon. Because it was a three-run lead for the Halos, Fuentes got pretty close to the worst save possible, giving up two runs while walking two in the process. It's theoretically possible that Fuentes will keep the job for the full season, but I'd bet against it. Rodney remains the top choice to be Fuentes' putative replacement, followed by Kevin Jepsen. Mixed: $5; AL: $10.

Alfredo Simon – Will Ohman's disaster outing on Saturday followed by his blown save on Sunday further opens the door for Simon to reclaim his closer's job when he comes back from the DL, which could happen as early as Wednesday, pending whether the O's think Simon needs a rehab assignment. The O's have pretty much said that the job is his when he's ready for it again. I still think that David Hernandez could be a decent darkhorse to get the role, but that won't happen immediately. Mixed: $4; AL: $11.


Alex Avila – Tigers manager Jim Leyland suggested that Avila would start to take away more playing time from Gerald Laird (quote from Chip Caray in the play-in game last year: “… he really knows how to handle the bat … strike three!”). Avila isn't having a great season by any means, but he can't be more a cipher at the plate than Laird, and he's starting to earn his bona fides defensively, having caught Galarraga's gem earlier in the week. Avila won't be among the elite catchers, but there's some upside here. Mixed: $3; AL: $12.

Kelly Shoppach – Shoppach is off the DL, and while he hasn't been Wally Pipped, he's not coming back into a daily starting job either. John Jaso has been just that good at the plate – so much that the Rays are now batting him in the leadoff spot and using him as the DH on days when he isn't catching. Shoppach will likely outlast Dioner Navarro for a roster spot when push comes to shove on the Rays' roster, though, so not all is lost. But right now he's not start-able in mixed leagues that use 25 or fewer catchers. Mixed: $0; AL: $1.

Jason Varitek – Varitek has been fantastic at the plate in limited use so far this season, cranking out a .257/.333/.600 line with seven homers in 70 at-bats. There's a chance he could play an extra game or two in the next week should Adrian Beltre need a day off, with Victor Martinez moving out from behind the plate to first base and Kevin Youkilis moving to third, as what happened on Saturday night. But extra playing time might not be a windfall for Varitek's owners. Varitek faded badly after a strong start last year, prompting the trade for Martinez in the first place. In a mixed league where you use 15 or fewer catchers, he's not a good bet, and I wouldn't use him in an AL-only league that requires just one catcher either. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.


Bill Hall – In my AL home league, a player qualifies at a position after just three games played there. I snagged him with a desperation FAAB bid early in the season there, as well in my woebegotten Cardrunners League team (AL only, 10-teams) – twice, actually, there. In the aforementioned home league, he now has added 2B/SS eligibility to go along with his pre-existing positions. Along the way he's actually been pretty productive lately, upping his triple-slash to .253/.352/.473 with five homers and three steals. In a mixed league that's nothing special, but getting that, for the bare minimum price that it took to get him, is gold in an only-league. Could it last? It seems a little unlikely, given his .69 CT rate, though to be fair that's considerably better than last year. He might provide a little more power and speed along with his current bump in playing time, but it will come at the cost of hurting your batting average. Mixed: $2; AL: $9.

Kevin Russo – Much to the joy of Yankees' Twitterville, Russo stayed up with the Yanks ahead of Randy Winn when they got Curtis Granderson back. That's the good news. The bad news is that he hasn't had a hit since. He has multi-position eligibility at 3B and OF right now, but there's very little else to hang onto, a high-BABIP fueled batting average last year notwithstanding. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Danny Valencia – With Orlando Hudson going on the DL this week (retroactively), Valencia will get a bit of a stay of execution in getting sent down to Triple-A Rochester for at least another week, and while he's up, he might just keep starting at third base daily. J.J. Hardy remains banged up, having sat out starts over the weekend due to his sore wrist, and Brendan Harris simply isn't hitting. Should Valencia do anything noteworthy in the next week, it's conceivable that he could displace Harris instead of getting sent down himself. The bad news is that he's not especially a great candidate to do so – he hasn't homered all season long and from a fantasy standpoint he's unlikely to run much either. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.


Matt Tolbert – Orlando Hudson's wrist injury is going to put him on the DL, and Tolbert has been getting most of the playing time at second base as a result, especially with Nick Punto occupied at shortstop with J.J. Hardy still nursing his sore wrist. Tolbert isn't anything special at the plate, but he's had Ron Gardenhire's favor before. The roster decision could come down between him and Danny Valencia at some point, and Tolbert might have the advantage due to his defensive flexibility. I'm still giving Valencia a higher bid because I think he has a smidge more offensive upside. Mixed: No; AL: $2.

Omar Vizquel – Vizquel has been getting most of the playing time at third base so far since Mark Teahen went down with an injury, rather than Jayson Nix. Clearly this is a defensive consideration, when look at what he's done at the plate in his recent career, and particularly this year (.246/.306/.292) for the White Sox. Nonetheless, he's batting second for the Pale Hose, which makes no sense at all, but is advantageous for those of his fantasy owners desperate for at-bats. But even in the Cell, expect no power from Vizquel and precious little speed. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.

Danny Worth – The Tigers are finally cutting the cord on the Adam Everett experience and recalling Worth, who will split the shortstop duties with Ramon Santiago. It's not especially clear that this is much of an offensive upgrade. Worth had a .627 OPS at Double-A last year, yet got promoted to Triple-A, where he had a measly .517 OPS. His numbers have been a little better at Triple-A Toledo this year, with a .684 OPS and 12 stolen bases, but I don't think that those steals will translate at the major league level, if for no other reason than I don't see him getting on-base all that often. Mixed: No; AL: $1.


Gabe Gross – Quietly Gross has gotten a ton of playing time in the outfield lately for the A's, but he hasn't done a whole lot with it at the plate, save for a fairly empty decent batting average. He doesn't hit for much power, he doesn't run and he doesn't even walk much. His defense gives him a few extra chances. When Coco Crisp returns, he'll shuffle back to the bench. His roster spot isn't likely to be threatened in the near future, though, as it doesn't appear that a Michael Taylor callup is imminent. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.

Josh Reddick – Because of the rash of outfield injuries (stop us if you have heard that one this year) suffered by the Red Sox, Reddick not only got the call on Saturday but started in center field. He's a pretty good bet to get sent back down, perhaps as early as Monday, when the Red Sox activate Boof Bonser from the DL. Either Reddick will get sent down, or Jeremy Hermida will need to go on the DL. Even if he sticks, though, he won't play all that often and he's probably not a good bet for success. He was hitting just .191/.241/.362 in 188 at-bats, with 40 strikeouts. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Michael Saunders – Saunders is essentially the guy that wins out with Ken Griffey Jr. retiring. He doesn't play every day, but his playing time ticked back up once the Mariners decided not to keep feeding Griffey into the lineup. Of course this was the right decision, even though Saunders is hardly a savior, But still, he can give them *something out there, including the ability to play the field, allowing Milton Bradley to DH, which is where he should have been all along. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.