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FAAB Factor - AL: Injured Center Fielders Open Up Playing Time

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

Starting Pitchers:

Graham Godfrey, A's - Godfrey made his season debut against the Royals, where he gave up 2 earned runs over 6 innings with a walk and strikeout in a loss. In 107.1 innings at Triple-A Sacramento he had a 2.68 ERA with 89 strikeouts and 30 walks. This week he gets the Indians at home, where I'd be much more inclined to use him, versus on the road. I don't see Godfrey missing as many bats as he did in the minors, but if he can keep that control going, he should be someone that is useful in mixed leagues and worth owning in all AL only formats. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays - Drabek held the Red Sox to just 1 run this week as he pitched 5.1 innings of 3-hit ball for a win. He struckout four batters, but also walked three, which concerns me. For all the talk and buzz that he might have turned the corner, he must stop walking so many batters for me to add him in any format. In that first start he relied heavily on his fastball and mixed in his change-up. This week he'll get the Royals on the road, where I'll be looking for him to show better command. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.

Kevin Millwood, Mariners - Millwood put together a pretty strong outing in his debut as he held the Rangers to just 1 run in Arlington. He gave up four hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in what ended up being a no-decision. Now as a member of the Mariners, I'm willing to see what he can do in home games against weaker offenses, but that's about it. I'm not buying his 3.98 ERA from 54.1 innings with the Rockies last season. This week against the Indians at Safeco Field, I'd test him out. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles - Chen made his MLB debut with 5.2 innings of 2-run ball against the Yankees. He gave up 7 hits and struck out six batters with one walk. His fastball sat around 90 mph and he mixed in a change-up (83 mph) and slider (82 mph). The Yankees have struggled against pitchers making their debut, so it's tough to decipher how much credit should be given to Chen for successful debut. This week he goes on the road to face the White Sox. He should be owned in AL only leagues, but I'd remain cautious in mixed leagues till I could get a few more looks at him. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.

Jason Hammel, Orioles - Hammel has gotten off to a quick start with a 2.08 ERA and 0.92 WHIP over 13 innings with eight strikeouts and four walks. Last season over 170.1 innings he posted a 4.76 ERA with 94 strikeouts and 68 walks. I don't know if it was the walks that did him in or his inability to miss bats, but either way he did not have command of his pitches. Now with the O's, I'm leery of what may happen to him against the offenses of the AL East. Fortunately for him, he gets the White Sox on the road this week. I'm not buying it, but this start for Hammel is encouraging. Mixed: $3; AL: Owned.

Danny Duffy, Royals - Duffy struckout eight A's batters this week, en route to six innings of 1-hit ball for a win. Full disclosure, he also walked four batters, but you're here for the strikeouts, not the control or WHIP. Last season he pitched 105.1 innings in the majors with a 5.64 ERA, 87 strikeouts, and 51 walks. Getting back to his control, Duffy sported a nice walk rate (2.04 & 2.14 BB/9) between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. I'm rather bullish on what Duffy can accomplish this season, but I'd avoid using him this week against the Tigers and Blue Jays. If he can survive these two tests, he should be ready for mixed league action. Mixed: $4; AL: Owned.

Drew Smyly, Tigers - Smyly made his MLB debut this week with four innings of 1-run ball on four hits, four strikeouts, and three walks. He threw 90 pitches, 49 of which were strikes. Smyly was drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft, so his ascension to the bigs has been a quick one. Last season in 45.2 innings at Double-A Erie he posted a 1.18 ERA with 53 strikeouts to just 15 walks. His next scheduled start is at Kansas City. In AL only leagues he's worth an add, but I'd wait a while if I could in deeper mixed leagues. There's little here that suggests he's ready to be a full time regular in the Tigers rotation. Mixed: No; AL: $3.

Adam Wilk, Tigers - Wilk struck out four batters and walked one in his five inning, two earned run debut at Chicago. The two earned runs came via home run, which is concerning, still he only allowed four batters to reach base in the loss. At Triple-A Toledo last season he posted a 3.24 ERA with 76 strikeouts and 14 walks over 102.2 innings. That kind of command will serve him well if he can carry it over. As a fly ball pitcher, the two homers in his debut are a bit worrisome as he had problems with the long ball in the minors. This week he'll be facing Texas at home, so I'd shy away from adding him just yet. If he survives though, he'd be worth adding in AL only leagues and deeper mixed leagues. Mixed: No; AL: $3.

Relief Pitchers:

Sergio Santos, Blue Jays - Just as a friendly reminder, Santos rejoined the Blue Jays on Sunday after he missed time for the birth of his child. He should be good to go as the closer, despite his two blown saves to start the season. Those who thought Francisco Cordero might be hot on his heels should note the 2-run homer that Cordero gave up on Saturday night to lose the game against the Orioles.


Chris Gimenez, Rays - With Jose Lobaton (shoulder) headed to the DL, Gimenez was recalled by the Rays this weekend. He should see a fair amount of at-bats as he splits the catcher duties with Jose Molina. Skills wise, Gimenez offers almost no power or speed and he has trouble getting on base. He's a career .171/.279/.272 hitter over 267 major league plate appearances. He'll likely only hold value in AL formats that use two catchers. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Stephen Vogt, Rays - The Rays 2011 Minor League Player of the Year logged some at-bats this week at DH with Luke Scott out (hamstring), but failed to get on base. Last season between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham he hit 17 homers with 105 RBI. He's also hit for average at nearly every stop in his minor league career. However at 27 years of age he's not really a prospect anymore. B.J. Upton (back) is likely due back later this week, so Vogt's stay in the majors will be a short one. He plays a bit of OF, so he's someone to keep in mind later this season if you're looking for position flexibility. Mixed & AL: No.

A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox - With two homers and seven RBI this week, Pierzynski has started to get picked up in mixed leagues. Before anyone goes thinking he's a good source of power, keep in mind he hasn't hit double digit home runs either of the last two years. He could very well still provide you with a nice batting average (career .284 hitter), but at 35 years old and with Tyler Flowers starting to steal at-bats away, don't expect miracles here. Mixed: $3; AL: Owned.

Corner Infielders:

Daric Barton, A's - Barton (shoulder) was activated from the DL this week and should soak up the vast majority of first base at-bats for the A's this season. Brandon Allen was designated for assignment in a corresponding move, so if you had him in an AL only league, it's time to find a replacement. Barton didn't hit much last season as he produced a .212/.325/.267 batting line over 280 plate appearances, before undergoing season ending labrum surgery. He's never hit for power, but he does have a good eye at the plate and will take plenty of walks, so his value will be a bit elevated in leagues that use OBP instead of batting average. Mixed: $0; AL: $5.

Kyle Seager, Mariners - I mentioned Seager is this post last week, but he has continued to get picked up in deep mixed leagues, so I figure he's worth talking about a little bit more. He has started the season batting .281/.303/.438 with a home run, two doubles, and a stolen base. The playing time he's currently seeing is a result of Mike Carp (shoulder) being on the DL and Chone Figgins sliding over to cover his spot, thus opening up third base to him. Seager could be eligible at middle infield in your league, so don't go thinking he'll lose all of his value once Carp is back. Skill wise he's going to produce more like a middle infielder than a corner infielder, in that he doesn't have much power. If he's still available in your AL only league, snap him up. Those in deep mixed leagues should make the add, but be cautious as Carp could be back this week. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.

Brandon Snyder, Rangers - Snyder got the start at first base on Saturday and went 3-for-4 with a run in place of Mitch Moreland, who was out with a tooth issue. Formerly with the Orioles, he doesn't possess great power and has trouble hitting for average. With the Rangers he'll likely only see playing time if Moreland is out for an extended period of time and even then the team might opt to go with Michael Young or Mike Napoli there instead. Those in AL only formats can likely ignore him. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Brandon Inge, Tigers - Inge (groin) was activated from the DL on Saturday and should get the start at second base on Sunday. Primarily a third baseman, he'll see at-bats mostly against lefties and as a late inning replacement, so his value is quite limited. At 35 years old that's a good thing - he would be exposed in a fully time job. A career .235/.305/.387 hitter, the most anyone is likely to get out of Inge is a few homers. Last season in 303 plate appearances, he batted .197/.265/.283 with 3 homers. There's more potential for disaster than there is profit with Inge. Mixed: No; AL: $3.

Middle Infielders:

Jason Donald, Indians - Donald got two starts this week for the Tribe and went 2-for-8 with a RBI and run. Other than filling in to give Jason Kipnis or Jack Hannahan a breather, he likely won't have much fantasy value. Donald doesn't hit for power and will likely only get you a handful of steals, so don't expect him to shine when he does get playing time. Over 480 career plate appearances, he's a .272/.326/.381 hitter with five homers and nine stolen bases. Mixed: No; AL: $2.

Munenori Kawasaki, Mariners - Kawasaki saw a few more starts this week, before Brendan Ryan (neck) resumed duty at his shortstop post. As I mentioned last week in this post, Kawasaki does not hit for power, but could steal a handful of bases. It's doubtful he sees enough at-bats this season to seriously help most fantasy owners even in AL only leagues. Mixed: No; AL: $3.

Robert Andino, Orioles - Andino got a hit in all, but one of his games this week and continues to be added in mixed leagues. For the season he's batting .267/.290/.467 with three doubles and a homer. He should continue to play second base until Brian Roberts (concussion symptoms) comes back, which is tough to determine, as he has no timetable. As I mentioned last week, he doesn't hit for much power and will only produce a dozen or so stolen bases if given an extended look. Mixed: $4; AL: Owned.

Jeff Keppinger, Rays - Keppinger continues to see at-bats for the Rays either at 2B or DH as he covers for Luke Scott (hamstring). Owners in mixed leagues can likely do better as Keppinger will only offer batting average help at his peak. Last season over 400 plate appearances he hit .277/.300/.377 with six homers and no stolen bases. As long as he's not a regular, he shouldn't be exposed like this again. Mixed: No; AL: $5.

Nick Punto, Red Sox - Punto got two starts this week and went 4-for-10 with a double, three RBI, and a run. He doesn't hit for any power, so don't expect much when he is in the lineup. He main reason he's even seeing this much playing time is because he's so adept with this glove. A career .249/325/.328 hitter, those in AL only leagues will want to take a look if they're in need of a stopgap at their MI spot. Mixed: No; AL: $3.

Luke Hughes, Twins - Hughes started twice this week for the Twins, in addition to coming off the bench, and went 2-for-7 with two RBI and a stolen base. Last season over 317 plate appearances he hit .223/.289/.338 with seven homers and three stolen bases. Needless to say, there's not much potential for profit here. A utility infielder, Hughes is best left as waiver wire fodder in AL only formats. Mixed: No; AL: $2.


Collin Cowgill, A's
- Cowgill got two starts this week and went 0-for-4 with three walks. He's still in search of consistent playing time as Josh Reddick still blocks him in right field. Last season at Triple-A Reno he hit .354/.430/.554 with 13 homers and 30 stolen bases. Cowgill likely needs to be sent down so that he can continue to log at-bats and develop as he's doing nothing right now in the crowded A's outfield. I'd hold onto him in AL only leagues if I could put him on my reserve list as he's still something of a prospect. Mixed: No; AL: $2.

Rajai Davis, Blue Jays - Davis has continued to see at-bats here and there as he serves as the Blue Jays fourth outfielder. So far he's 2-for-11 with a double, triple, three RBI, four runs, and two stolen bases. Davis doesn't need a starting job to have fantasy value, although it would certainly help, as he can rack up steals anytime he lands on base. Last season he stole 34 bases in only 95 games. If he's been dropped in your mixed league, it's time to pick him back up and keep him ready, as speed never slumps. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.

Michael Saunders, Mariners - Saunders continued to see at-bats in CF this week and went 2-for-14 with a RBI, run, stolen base and six strikeouts. As I mentioned last week, he doesn't have many offensive skills as he doesn't hit for power or average, doesn't steel bases, and isn't very disciplined at the plate. Still, if he's available in your AL only league, he's worth a look because he of the playing time he'll see till Franklin Gutierrez (pectoral) is back. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.

Nolan Reimold, Orioles - If you're looking for a replacement to Jacoby Ellsbury in a mixed league, Reimold is where I'd start. He has started the season 10-for-31 with two homers, three doubles, four RBI, four runs, and a stolen base. He hit only .247/.328/.453 last season over 305 plate appearances with 13 homers and seven steals. Although in September he heated up, batting .281/.395/.578 with five homers and six stolen bases. I think if given a full workload he could hit 20+ homers with double digit steals. His batting average and on-base percentage will suffer, but power is power. Mixed: $10; AL: Owned.

Darnell McDonald & Jason Repko, Red Sox - With Jacob Ellsbury out for an extended period of time, McDonald should start to see more regular at-bats. So far this season he's 2-for-14 with five runs, a stolen base, and five walks. Last season over 175 plate appearances he hit .236/.303/.401 with six homers and two stolen bases. If he gets an extended look you can bank on a low batting average with a handful of homers and stolen bases. As for Repko, he was called up Saturday night as is starting on Sunday in CF. Known for his glove, expect even worse numbers than those that McDonald would give you. For his career Repko is a .226/.297/.350 hitter with 16 homers and 27 steals over 768 plate appearances. None of the Red Sox in-house replacements will come close to giving fantasy owners what they expected out of Ellsbury. McDonald Mixed: $3; AL: Owned. Repko Mixed: No; AL: $2.

Jarrod Dyson, Mitch Maier, & Jason Bourgeois, Royals - With Lorenzo Cain (groin) on the DL, Dyson got first crack at the CF job this week. In two games he has gone 2-for-8 with a double, RBI, walk, and caught stealing. If it's Cain's speed you're trying to replace Dyson may be your man as he stole 38 bags last season at Triple-A Omaha over 369 plate appearances. Heck, in only 37 plate appearances this season at Triple-A he stole six bags. As for Maier, he has gone 1-for-7 this season with that one hit being a home run. He has no real offensive skills to speak of as a career .251/.331/.348 hitter over 1,051 plate appearances with only nine homers and 13 stolen bases. Bourgeois has only seen one at-bat since Cain went down and four total this season. It doesn't look like he's going to get much playing time right now, so I'd be hesitant to throw any FAAB at him. If he does get some run in CF with Cain out, expect him to burn up the base paths as he stole 31 bases over 252 plate appearances last season with the Astros. Dyson Mixed: $2; AL: $6. Maier Mixed: No; AL: $2. Bourgeois Mixed: No; AL: $4 - If he's not already owned.

Designated Hitter

Johnny Damon, Indians - Damon signed with the Indians this week and will report to extended spring training, before heading to Triple-A Columbus. When he's ready to join the team he'll be looking to improve upon his .261/.326/.418 batting line from last season when he hit 16 homers and stole 19 bags. At 38-years old, I wouldn't be betting on him to steal double-digit bases. Damon didn't log 20 games at OF last season, so he's likely only eligible at DH or UTIL in most leagues, which puts a little bit of a damper on his fantasy value. Still, he's worth stashing in AL only and deeper mixed leagues. Mixed: $3; AL: $10 - Only if you can stash him.

Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop them in the comments section.

You can follow me on Twitter @andtinez.