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NL FAAB Factor: Plenty of Relievers to Look At

Andrew Martinez

Andrew Martinez writes about baseball and football. He is a native Texan and roots for the Astros, Rockets, Texans, and Rice Owls.

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:

Ubaldo Jimenez – Jimenez (thumb) came off the DL this week and had a so-so start. He gave up four earned runs over five innings with six strikeouts and two walks. His thumb injury was related to a cracked cuticle, so there shouldn't be any lingering effects moving forward. He's obviously owned in all leagues, so just be sure up to activate him. Mixed & NL: FYI; likely owned in all leagues.

Jenrry Mejia – Mejia may soon be back in New York after his hot start for Triple-A Buffalo. In three starts he has posted a 0.98 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 17:9 K:BB ratio in 18.1 innings. Last season he pitched out of the Mets' bullpen with mediocre results (4.62 ERA & 1.69 WHIP) before being sent back down to get stretched out and work on his control, which could still use some work. He's the best pitching prospect in the system, so he also has a bit of a pedigree. When Mejia gets recalled, the Mets should use him in the rotation to extract maximum value out of him, but it's possible they could make him prove himself again in the bullpen before allowing him to start. Chris Young is expected back from the DL soon, but it likely won't be long before he is injured again. If, or when, that happens, the Mets will have to consider using Mejia should he keep having success in the minors. Mixed: No; NL: $1 - speculative bid.

Charlie Morton – Morton won his first two starts for the Pirates and posted a 1.64 ERA and a complete game in the process. However, the Marlins roughed him up last week for six runs in five innings. He has not had much success the last two seasons, but he tweaked his delivery this spring and the early results have been positive. His 12 strikeouts compared to 15 walks in 27 innings and a 1.41 WHIP should signal skepticism, but he did post good numbers (2.05 ERA & 0.99 WHIP) with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate in 2008. Still, until the control comes around, don’t put too much faith in him. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Dustin Moseley – Moseley turned in his fourth straight quality start last week with six shutout innings of the Cubs. The Padres righty now owns a 1.40 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, but he has yet to find the win column after receiving just one run of support in his first four starts. In his 25.2 innings, he has a less than dominant eight strikeouts and seven walks. His hot start has come with a spike in his ground ball rate (58.1%), but we've seen Moseley's underwhelming act before. A bounceback season wouldn't be that surprising considering the effect Petco Park can have on pitchers, but he'll need to pick up his strikeout rate to maintain his success. In 259 career innings he owns a 4.90 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Ryan Vogelsong – Vogelsong was brought up this week to replace Barry Zito (foot) in the Giants’ rotation. So far, the schedule has allowed the team to skip his spot and use him out of the bullpen, but he should make his first start this coming week. He spent last season in Triple-A with the Phillies and Giants affiliates, where he struck out over a batter per inning but showed real problems with his control (his walk rate was well over 5.0 BB/9.) This season he allowed just two earned runs over 11.1 minor league innings, thus prompting his promotion. Zito is expected to be gone for a month, so Vogelsong will have his chance to show he belongs on the big league roster. NL owners will want to take a wait and see approach with his control before adding the combustible Vogelsong to the roster. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Relief Pitchers:

Mitchell Boggs/Jason Motte/Eduardo Sanchez – This week Ryan Franklin was removed from the Cardinals closer role by manager Tony LaRussa. Initially LaRussa was reticent to name a successor, but since Franklin’s removal Boggs has racked up two saves. Boggs possesses a mid-90s fastball and a slider, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to handle lefties well enough to stay in the role long-term. Jason Motte is still someone to keep an eye on as he remains the setup man in the bullpen, but for now it looks like the job belongs to Boggs. Sanchez is a name to stash away – though a rookie, he has a live arm and could be the team's closer down the road. In six innings this season he has 10 strikeouts with just one walk and no runs allowed. There was some speculation that Miguel Batista might enter into the mix for saves, and he still might considering LaRussa is calling the shots, but at 40 years old and with a history of poor command, your team is likely better off without him. Boggs - Mixed: $12; NL: $30. Motte - Mixed: 1; NL: $4. Sanchez - Mixed: No; NL: $2.

LaTroy Hawkins/Kameron Loe – This is another closer situation to monitor as John Axford continues to struggle. Last week he blew his second save, allowing a run on a hit and two walks. Until a clean outing Saturday night, he had allowed a baserunner in his last seven outings. Hawkins (shoulder) came off the DL this week and gave up an earned run on three hits in his season debut. If his name doesn't excite you, keep in mind he did close in the past, something that manager Ron Roenicke might value. Loe has appeared in 12 games this season with a 3.38 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. He doesn't have any experience closing games, but he proved himself valuable to the team last year with a 2.78 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 58.1 innings. Takashi Saito is a name to consider, but he's currently on the DL with a hamstring issue. Hawkins - Mixed: $1; NL: $4. Loe - Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Clayton Mortensen – A former 2007 supplemental first round pick, Mortensen was recalled last week to make a spot start against the Giants. He was great, pitching six shutout innings with two walks and two hits. The thinking was that he'd be sent back down once Ubaldo Jimenez returned from the DL, but the team sent the struggling Ian Stewart down instead. Mortensen features a high 80s fastball with a changeup and slider. He'll be used primarily as a long man out of the bullpen, but should Esmil Rogers falter or an injury strike in the starting rotation, Mortensen would be there to possibly pick up the slack. He was actually in the running for the fifth starter's spot in spring training, but that obviously didn't come to pass. In Triple-A last season in the A's system, he pitched 165.1 innings and posted a 112:53 K:BB ratio with a 4.25 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. Mixed: No; NL: $1.

Vicente Padilla – Padilla (elbow) was activated from the DL last week by the Dodgers. He's expected to be a reliever and help what has become the worst bullpen (5.94 ERA) in the NL. With his history as a starter, it wouldn't be too surprising to see him transition back into the team's rotation should a spot open up or an injury occur. Last season in 95 innings he had a 4.07 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Mixed: No; NL: $1.

Drew Storen – Storen picked up his second save of the season this week, signaling what is possibly an official changing of the guard in the back end of the Nationals bullpen. Maybe more important than Storen getting the save is the order in which he and the apparent incumbent, Sean Burnett, were used. Burnett pitched the eighth and got into a bit of trouble before giving way to Storen, who came in for the four out save and nailed it down allowing only one baserunner. Further helping Storen's cause is the fact that Burnett has given up an earned run in each his last three outings, one of which resulted in a blown save. In 10 appearances Storen is rocking a 0.77 ERA and 0.86 WHIP, and he looks poised to take the ninth-inning role and run with it. He's almost certainly taken in NL leagues, but those in mixed play should bid with confidence on the young righty. Mixed: $14.


Chris Snyder – Snyder (back) has returned from the DL and is now the Pirates’ starting backstop, forcing Ryan Doumit into a reserve role. He's gotten off to a good start with five RBI and a .350/.435/.450 batting line in 20 at-bats. Last season in 319 at-bats he hit 15 homers, so he's got some pop in his bat. Of course it came at a price as he hacked .207/.320/.376 in between Arizona and the Steel City. Owners in NL leagues that start two catchers could certainly do worse. Mixed: No; NL: $4.

Corner Infielders:

Miguel CairoScott Rolen received two injections last night to help him deal with his ailing shoulder. As a result he's missed the last three games, but he remains optimistic that he'll be back in the lineup sooner rather than later. Cairo is Rolen’s replacement with Juan Francisco (calf) on the DL. Cairo had been filling in for Brandon Phillips (calf), so it looks like he will stay in the lineup a bit longer. Rolen's injury is something to take seriously since he's had a history of problems with his shoulder. This isn't a strong recommendation to go out and get Cairo, but more a warning that if you own Rolen, you shouldn't be counting on him to stay healthy the entire season. To Cairo's credit, he has filled in nicely with a .286/.333/.371 batting line and what ended up being the game-winning hit in Cincinnati's win over St. Louis on Saturday night. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Ryan Roberts – Roberts had a 2-for-5 game with two homers, three RBI, and a stolen base this week causing owners to take notice of the fact that he's been pretty good this season in limited playing time at third base for the Diamondbacks. Melvin Mora is the starter, but he's been out due to a foot injury and has missed the last five games. On the season, Roberts is batting .340/.436/.660 with four homers, 12 RBI, and two stolen bases. Mora can't give the team anything more than limited power with a modest batting average, so expect Roberts to force the issue, assuming he can keep his bat relatively hot. At 39 years old, it wouldn't be too surprising to see Mora get pushed aside. In 347 at-bats in Triple-A last season, Roberts hit .265/.365/.444 with 11 homers, 55 RBI, and 16 stolen bases. Mixed: $4; NL: $15.

Brett Wallace – Wallace was hot last week with 10 hits in 21 at-bats to raise his batting line to .324/.400/.451 for the Astros. He says he has backed off the plate so as not to get busted inside as often, and so far the adjustment has paid off. He only has one home run on the season, but four of those ten hits last week were doubles, so hopefully the power comes next. He came up from the minors after being traded to Houston last season from Toronto and produced poor results, with a .222/.296/.319 batting line with two homers and 13 RBI. This is a mixed league play since he's taken in NL leagues. Mixed: $8.

Brandon Wood – Wood was released by the Angels this week and claimed by the Pirates. Manager Clint Hurdle, a noted hitting coach, has his work cut out for him since Wood has shown an inability to hit at the major league level. There is no immediate spot for Wood to take, but he should find himself in plenty of games as a utility infielder. NL owners would be wise to wait until Wood shows something at the plate before adding him to the roster. In 464 career major league at-bats, he's a .168/.197/.259 hitter. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Middle Infielders:

Danny Espinosa – Espinosa recently took over the leadoff role in the Nationals’ batting order and responded with good results. In a doubleheader last week he went 2-for-7 with a home run and six RBI. He hasn't taken a walk in over a week, but that will hopefully change now that he's atop the order. Espinosa is already taken in NL leagues, but those in mixed leagues may want to invest in him due to his potential power/speed combo. Last season in 103 at-bats with the club, he hit six homers with 15 RBI. In his days as a minor leaguer, he twice registered 25 stolen base seasons, though he has yet flash any of that speed in the majors. Mixed: $6.

Daniel Murphy/Justin Turner – After the Brad Emaus experiment abruptly ended, the Mets brought Turner up to help fill their hole at second base. Turner is a righty and Murphy is a lefty, so the Mets figure to go with a platoon until one of the two players proves themselves worthy of everyday at-bats. In 312 at-bats last season with Triple-A Buffalo, Turner hit .333/.390/.516 with 11 home runs, 35 RBI, and 5 stolen bases. Murphy should benefit the most with Emaus now gone since he'll likely be in the lineup when the team faces righties. Last season he missed most of the season with a MCL tear in his right knee. In 2009 however, he posted a .266/.313/.427 line with 12 homers, 63 RBI, and 4 stolen bases for the Mets. Murphy - Mixed: $4; NL: $15. Turner - Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Nick Punto/Tyler Greene/Daniel DescalsoSkip Schumaker hit the DL this week with a triceps injury, thus opening up second base on the Cardinals. Punto came off the DL in a corresponding move after dealing with a sports hernia injury. Punto offers little in the way of batting average but provides some decent speed, but he is a veteran and we know how Tony LaRussa loves his veterans. Greene offers many of the same skills Punto does, but he's also a bit younger. Descalso is the youngest of the bunch and is still getting the hang of things in the majors. Expect Punto to get the everyday job while Schumaker is out, with Greene and Descalso getting a bit of time to keep Punto fresh. Punto - Mixed: No; NL: $2. Greene - Mixed: No; NL: $1. Descalso - Mixed & NL: No.


Scott Cousins/Emilio BonifacioLogan Morrison's foot injury has Cousins and Bonifacio sharing time in LF for the Marlins. Many remember Bonifacio for his '09 Opening Day performance, in which he stole three bases, hit an inside-the-park home run, and for one day made the baseball community take notice of his speed. This season he's found 45 at-bats between 3B and OF and has posted a .333/.375/.400 batting line and two stolen bases. Like Bonifacio, Cousins has speed, but he also has a bit of power and is a bit more well-rounded. In 410 at-bats at Triple-A last season, he hit .283/.333/.459 with 14 homers, 49 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. Morrison's injury is expected to sideline him for 2-for-4 weeks, so there's a real opportunity here, should one of the two step up. With Bonifacio being a one trick pony, Cousins is the player with more upside and the one to target. Cousins - Mixed: $1; NL: $4. Bonifacio - Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Willie Harris/Scott Hairston/Jason PridieAngel Pagan's oblique strain landed him on the DL this week, thus opening the door to playing time for Harris, Hairston, and possibly Pridie. Harris and Hairston had been in a platoon while filling in for Jason Bay (ribs), so that will probably continue. So far Harris is hitting .250/.328/.404 in 52 at-bats, while Hairston is batting .179/.258/.321 in 28 at-bats. Pridie was brought up to give the team some outfield depth, but don’t expect much else. Last season in 164 at-bats at Triple-A Buffalo he hit .280/.330/.384 with 3 homers, 19 RBI, and 9 stolen bases. Oblique strains can be tricky, so this situation might last longer than the minimum 15 days. Harris - Mixed: No; NL: $2. Hairston - Mixed: No, NL: $2. Pridie - Mixed & NL: No.

Jon JayAllen Craig hit the DL last week with a groin injury, thus making Jay the team's 4th outfielder. This obviously isn't a huge boon for him, but with Lance Berkman getting the occasional day off, he could see some additional time. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Cody Ross – Ross (calf) came off the DL last week, a move that pushed Brandon Belt back to the minors. He'll initially help the team more with his glove than his bat – having Ross available means Aubrey Huff can play first – but he does have some pop. Last season between the Marlins and Giants he hit 14 homers with 65 RBI and 9 stolen bases. A career .264/.322/.464 hitter, Ross isn't a mixed league play, but he should be a solid regular for those in NL-only leagues. Mixed: No; NL: Likely taken; be sure to activate him.

Jerry Sands – Sands was called up last week to help fill the Dodgers’ void in LF, and also potentially the void at first base known as James Loney. Most thought May was the earliest Sands would be called up, but with a .400/.422/.875 batting line and five homers and 17 RBI in Triple-A, the team had no choice but to bring him up. He's gotten off to a slow start with only three hits in 22 at-bats, but the team should remain patient with the young prospect. He profiles as a player with good on-base skills and power. Last season at Double-A – the highest level he reached – he hit .270/.360/.529 with 17 homers, 47 RBI, and four stolen bases in 259 at-bats. Those in mixed leagues can probably look elsewhere for outfield depth (depending on your league size), but those in NL-only and keeper leagues will surely want to take a chance on the kid. Mixed: $8; NL: $22.