Article first appeared 6/8/08
This is our weekly look at the free agents in each league. We have two goals with this article:
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:
Scott Baker - Baker is back from the DL and has a nice two-start slate for next week. He was held to five innings in his last start and should get stretched out further in subsequent starts. Baker turned a corner over the last part of 2007, and should be a pretty good source of strikeouts if not wins. His principal weakness is a tendency to give up gopher balls; if you're in a mixed league, you might want to pick your spots when using him. Mixed: $6; AL: $19.
Armando Galarraga - Jeremy Bonderman is out for the season, giving Galarraga a reprieve from losing his spot in the Tigers' starting rotation. Now it's all on him to just perform, and not have to worry about outdoing Dontrelle Willis. He got the win on Sunday, and he'll have his moments of competence, but his K:BB (35:24 over 52.2 innings heading into Sunday) suggests that a correction in his 3.76 ERA is still forthcoming. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.
Jeremy Sowers - With Jake Westbrook out for the season, Sowers steps into the rotation until Fausto Carmona can come back from his hip injury. The results from Sunday's start illustrates the problem with Sowers - he doesn't miss enough bats, and he gives up too many fly balls when hitters make contact. He's the type of pitcher that can control Triple-A hitters, but his stuff just isn't good enough at the next level. When Carmona returns, it's likely that he and not Aaron Laffey will get sent down. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Dontrelle Willis - Jeremy Bonderman's injury resolves the Tigers' dilemma between Willis and Armando Galarraga, but now it's just a matter of them seeing if they can get anything out of Willis. He's only allowed four hits in 10 innings, so while his stuff is active, he has zero command, posting an ugly 3:16 K:BB over those 10 innings. One effect of the control issues is that Willis hasn't been able to work deep into games at all. Apply only if you want to gamble on his control eventually returning, or if you're a thrill-seeker. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.
Denny Bautista - The Tigers got tired of Francisco Cruceta's control problems and designated him for assignment. In his place, they activated Bautista … who has control problems, walking 13 in 14.1 innings so far this season. They haven't been able to overcome injuries to Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya, but it's pretty apparent that they didn't have anything amounting to a plan in place to replace them. Bautista has a live arm, but chances are that he's not the answer. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Andrew Brown - Prior to his emergency appendectomy, Brown was starting to lose a little steam after a fantastic April. He can be a decent option to pick up holds and a few vulture wins while giving you a good strikeout rate, but the key for him will be to avoid walks. He got into trouble a little bit last season when his control deserted him. The A's other top set-up options, Santiago Casilla and Joey Devine, are on the DL. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Esteban Loaiza - At this point in his career, Loaiza is just playing out the string. He doesn't have the same fastball that he did when he had his magical season with the White Sox in 2003. The Sox don't have any expectations that he'll return to that form - instead, he'll be used in long relief. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Jorge Posada - Posada is finally back from the DL and has already homered since his return. His shoulder will linger as a concern, especially defensively, but if you've held onto him this long, there's no reason to not put him back in your lineup. Mixed: $20.
Sean Casey - Casey is getting more playing time in the wake of David Ortiz's trip to the DL, coupled with Jacoby Ellsbury's nagging wrist injury. Casey hasn't hit for any sort of power since 2004, but he is hitting well for average right now for the Red Sox and could have some decent counting stats with the lineup around him. Just be aware that he's got a three-game suspension pending thanks to his involvement in Thursday's brawl with the Rays. It's under appeal and might be reduced, but at some point you're going to be without him for at least a game or two. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Esteban German - German has started to get a little bit more playing time at shortstop in the past 10 days after being chained to the bench most of the season before that. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to capitalize on his abbreviated chance, hitting just .161/.213/.179 in 56 at-bats. He's a better hitter than this, but judging by his playing time pattern over the weekend, his window of opportunity has closed again. As we mentioned in Mike Aviles' blurb last week, the Royals are really doing all four of their potential shortstop candidates (Aviles, Alberto Callaspo, German and Tony Pena Jr.) a disservice by not deciding on one of them and just letting them play. It's difficult to discern a long-term plan here, and a team like the Royals should be focused on nothing but their long-term plan. Mixed: $0; AL: $2.
Eric Hinske - Hinske has revived his career after going through some lean times the last year-and-a-half with the Red Sox. He was hitting around this pace in the first half of 2006, before he got traded from the Blue Jays. Prior to that, the last time Hinske hit so well was his Rookie-of-the-Year 2002 season. He looks a little slimmer from previous seasons, and it's possible that he had too much bulk before. At any rate, he's playing a lot more at first base with Carlos Pena out, sitting only against select lefties. Mixed: $5; AL: $16.
Asdrubal Cabrera - We're listing him here because so many owners have cut bait on Cabrera, even in deeper mixed leagues. That's probably the right move in your standard 12-team mixed league, especially if it's a redraft league, but it's too early to completely write Cabrera off. He's still just 22 years-old, and his development path has been all over the place. He's still learning his craft, and he's been slow to adjust to opposing pitchers' adjustments to him. He's walking more, but he's also striking out more and not driving the ball. Still, for the long-term the Indians are going to give him plenty of chances thanks to his superior defense and what he did after getting called up last year. If you can afford the roster spot, especially in a keeper league, pick him up and stash him on the bench. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Maicer Izturis - Izturis has been on fire over the last week, raising his average over .50 points. While we don't want to advocate timing the market, the truth is that Izturis was due for a positive correction after a slow start. He's playing well enough that when Erick Aybar returns in a little over two weeks, Aybar isn't guaranteed to take back the starting shortstop job. We're presuming that Chone Figgins will be back from his DL trip by then. Izturis has already matched his stolen base output of seven from last year, and if he's able to stick in the lineup at least three-to-four times per week after Aybar returns, he'll remain a good source of steals. Mixed: $3; AL: $11.
Marco Scutaro - The Jays can't seem to find a way to keep Scutaro out of their starting lineup. He was set to lose some starting time when David Eckstein came off the DL, but then Aaron Hill collided with Eckstein and suffered a concussion. Scutaro has taken over while Hill has been out, and has been an adequate fill-in. The stolen bases that we might have expected just haven't been there, though - he had three steals in the first week of the season and just one since. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Brent Clevlen - Like Brandon Moss, Clevlen's play has picked up in his second year at Triple-A Toledo. He was hitting .324/.417/.620 there before his callup, with 13 homers and three stolen bases. He replaces the injured Clete Thomas, and while there are some caveats about whether Clevlen's performance at Toledo is for real at all, he's a higher ceiling guy than Thomas. He'll start against lefties for now, perhaps getting a handful of starts against righties as well as the Tigers try to sort out all of their spare parts. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Brandon Moss - Moss is back up with the Red Sox for his third call of duty following Jacoby Ellsbury's minor wrist injury and David Ortiz's trip to the DL. On occasion, the Red Sox will move Manny Ramirez to DH, creating the potential for playing time for Moss. Looking at the longer term, one of his bigger problems is that he has no platoon possibilities - Ellsbury and J.D. Drew are both lefty hitters, and Coco Crisp switch-hits. Prior to his callup, Moss had improved nicely in his second year at the Triple-A level, but keep in mind players tend to improve upon repeating a level. He eventually profiles as a fourth outfielder, at least with the Red Sox. Mixed: $0; AL: $5.
Justin Ruggiano - Ruggiano was called up in the aftermath of Carlos Pena's trip to the DL. Even with the injury, there's not that many opportunities for Ruggiano to get into the lineup, at least until the Rays' wave of suspensions start getting served. He'll be especially useful when fellow right-hander Jonny Gomes is out. He's hit well in the minors the last couple of seasons, but profiles less as a starting corner outfielder and more as a fourth outfielder or a platoon partner. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Vernon Wells - Wells is back from the DL, a little ahead of schedule, and homered on Sunday. We're not convinced that he's completely past all concerns about his wrist injury. Curtis Granderson made an initial splash when he first returned before slumping for nearly a month. Wells could go that route as well. Still, if you have him, start him, if he's available, grab him. Just don't go out of your way to trade current value for him. Mixed: $20.
Brad Wilkerson - Wilkerson shifts from right field to left field with Wells back from the DL, and he'll now have more of a chance to start there now that Shannon Stewart has hit the DL. Adam Lind is hitting .331/.391/.536 at Triple-A Syracuse, yet somehow Wilkerson still gets rolled out there on a regular basis. At some point the Jays have to give Lind another shot, preferably one that lasts more than 19 at-bats. Until then, Wilkerson will keep on Hoover-ing up those starts in left. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.