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NL FAAB Factor: Strike While the Wood is Hot

Kenn Ruby

Kenn has been writing and editing for RotoWire since 2003. Though he attended Northwestern with the co-founders of RotoWire, he is not considered a made member of the RotoWire Northwestern mafia, as he can't trace back all of his ancestors to Dan Okrent.

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

Starting Pitchers:

Jhoulys Chacin – Chacin was called up to take Jeff Francis’ spot in the rotation, but his first outing back in the majors didn’t go well - he gave up five of everything (ER, H, BB) in five innings. He’s been used as both a starter and reliever this year, with mixed results, and there’s no reason to think this stint will go any differently. Mixed: $3. NL: $5.

Carlos Monasterios - Monasterios rejoined the Los Angeles rotation when Vicente Padilla was placed on the DL. Although he had a nice 6:1 K:BB ratio in his latest start, the rest of his line wasn’t quite as good, and he generally doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts. Mixed: no. NL: $1.

Alejandro Sanabia - Sanabia’s first three starts were decent enough (13 IP, 16 H, 1 ER), but it was the fourth start that earned him a ticket to the minors. Sanabia was recalled last week and threw his best game of the season (albeit against the Pirates). He may not stick in the rotation when Sean West returns from the DL, but Sanabia does have an excellent 25:7 K:BB ratio in 31 innings, so there’s some talent there. Mixed: $2. NL: $4.

Travis Wood - The Reds inexplicably sent Wood down a couple of weeks ago when they didn’t need a fifth starter. They played well in his absence, but now he’s back up in the bigs. If your league’s Wood owner panicked and dumped him when he was optioned, now’s the time to pounce, especially in keeper leagues. Mixed: $12. NL: $30.

Relief Pitchers:

Fernando Abad – He’s not, um, abad. Between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Round Rock, Abad had a 42:8 K:BB ratio in 46 innings and only gave up 12 earned runs. He was even better in 2008 and 2009. Abad will work as a lefty out of the pen. Mixed: no. NL: $3.

Jeremy Affeldt – Affeldt was unhittable last year (his .244 BABIP might have had something to do with that) but he’s come back down to earth in 2010. After nearly a month on the DL, Affeldt will resume his role as a lefty specialist for the Giants. Mixed: no. NL: $1.

Aroldis Chapman – The Reds announced this week that the young phenom will be recalled when rosters expand in September. Cincinnati doesn’t have much of a role for him right now, and with a rare pennant race going on in Porkopolis, Chapman probably won’t see significant action. Mixed: no. NL: $2. NL-keeper: $24.

Ryota Igarashi – Igarashi was called up after the whole Francisco Rodriguez ordeal. He will provide what he’s been providing all season: below-average middle relief. Mixed: no. NL: no.

Andrew Miller – Once upon a time, Andrew Miller was a can’t-miss star. But he’s missed. And missed. And missed. He was awful for Double-A Jacksonville this year, and his chances on having any value pitching out of the Florida pen are pretty low. Mixed: no. NL: no.

Eric O'Flaherty – O’Flaherty was pitching well before a bout with mono last month. It’s unknown just how strong he’ll be after all the time convalescing, but if the Braves felt like he was ready to pitch in the majors again, he’ll probably be fine. Mixed: $1. NL: $4.

Matt Reynolds – Reynolds has nasty stuff, and he could close for the Rockies someday. In 2010, he’s just a middle reliever. Mixed: no. NL: $1.

Travis Schlichting – Schlichting had some success as a middle reliever with Los Angeles earlier this year, but not enough to help a fantasy roster right now. Mixed: no. NL: no.


Bryan Anderson – Anderson took over the Cardinals’ backup catcher role when Steve Hill was sent down; and now that Jason LaRue is done for the year and Yadier Molina is being overplayed, Anderson could see a little action down the stretch. Of course, he’s not going to see enough action to help most owners, but he could have some value in NL-only leagues that require two catchers. Mixed: no. NL: $1.

Brad Davis/Brett Hayes – With the news that Ronny Paulino will be suspended for the rest of the season, the Marlins catching job is there for the taking. Davis was hitting .287/.354/.455 for Triple-A New Orleans, but he’ll likely back up Hayes, who is more of a defense-first catcher. Nothing to see here. Davis – Mixed: no. NL: $2. Hayes – Mixed: no. NL: $1.

Wilson Ramos – Ramos got a cup of coffee while Wil Nieves was with his wife for the birth of their child. Ramos is already back down in Triple-A, but we thought we’d mention that he made his NL debut, possibly making him eligible to be picked up in your league. He’s the Washington catcher of the future and is just 23. Mixed: no. NL: no. NL-keeper: $2.

Geovany Soto – Soto is expected to be activated when eligible on August 22. He’s quietly having a solid year. Mixed: $10. NL: $24.

Corner Infielders:

Pedro Feliz/Derrek Lee – Feliz and Lee were both traded from one National League team to another this week, so chances are they aren’t any more available now than they were last week at this time. The Cardinals like Feliz’s glove and may trot him out there most days. He doesn’t have the power he once had, and the batting average will be a drain, so he doesn’t have much fantasy value. Lee’s having an off year, but his last three games as a Cub produced four solo homers, so he could still bring some value to a good lineup. Feliz – Mixed: No. NL: $1. Lee – Mixed: $14. NL: $32.

Ryan HowardMike Sweeney and Ross Gload will lose all their value now that Howard is back. He always saves the best for September too. Mixed: $100. NL: $100 (yeah, like he’s available).

Middle Infielders:

David Eckstein – After a month on the DL with a calf strain, the diminutive Eckstein is finally back, replacing Everth Cabrera on the roster. It’s been a while since Eckstein was very fantasy-relative, but he could have a little value in deep leagues, especially if he regains his starting job as expected. Mixed: no. NL: $3.

Jon Herrera – Rumor has it that Clint Barmes might be headed to Atlanta, meaning that a lot of playing time could be opening up for Herrera, who wasn’t horrible in his first stint with the Rockies. He’ll mostly play second, but could play third and short in a pinch. Mixed: no. NL: $3.

Anderson Hernandez/Tommy Manzella – Hernandez was called up when Jeff Keppinger went on the DL, but Tommy Manzella was activated at the same time. Neither of them can hit much, so even though Manzella is ahead on the depth chart, he doesn’t hold much of an edge in fantasy value. Both - Mixed: no. NL: no.


Chris Carter - With Jason Bay out for the season, Carter will get a long look in September. He’s been with the Mets since May, but the last time he got three starts in a row (as he has the last three days) was two months ago. Carter hasn’t produced the power with the Mets that he showed in the minors, but with extended playing time, and the watered down pitching staffs in September, he could be a sneaky good pickup right now. Mixed: $2. NL: $12.

Luis Durango – Durango has great wheels and his hitting .307 with 36 steals between Triple-A Portland and San Diego this year. He has no power to speak of, but if you’re desperate for stolen bases, he could help a bit down the stretch. Mixed: no. NL: $3.

Sam Fuld/Micah Hoffpauir – Fuld was recalled after Derrek Lee was traded, but his time with the Cubs could be short-lived. The Cubs publically planned to recall Micah Hoffpauir instead, but they were forced to wait until the 10-day window from his previous demotion passed. Hoffpauir had limited success with the Cubs last year and hit like a 30-year-old minor league veteran should with Triple-A Iowa this year. He’ll get an extended look at first, especially if the Cubs also move Xavier Nady. Fuld - Mixed: no. NL: no. Hoffpauir – Mixed: $1. NL: $6.

Mike Morse – With Josh Willingham done for the year, Morse now has the right field job all to himself. He’s had some success this year, hitting .277/.318/.500 with nine home runs in 148 at-bats, but with more playing time, he might be able to get to 15 home runs. Not bad for a guy who was an afterthought on draft day. Mixed: $1. NL: $8.

Manny Ramirez – Manny’s blistering run through the NL in late 2008 feels like 100 years ago, but the fact of the matter is he has still put up excellent numbers the last two years when healthy. It’s those last two words that make fantasy owners leery. Still, he’s off the DL now, and as usual, he has something to prove. Buy. Mixed: $24. NL: $66.

Seth Smith – Smith has been in a major slump in August, but with Brad Hawpe released and Carlos Gonzalez possible headed to the DL, Smith should start against all righties and many lefties. With 14 homers and a .823 OPS, Smith could be a good pickup right now. Mixed: $4. NL: $16.