Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Top Pickups Around the Diamond - Week 6

When I was in high school, I remember my economics teacher described the stock market like tapping a keg. Every so often you get stocks that are over valued and they are like the initial froth that you get from a keg. Then as you get into the keg you start getting more pure beer without the useless froth. This is equivalent to the stocks that are for real and will continue to appreciate in value.

What I'm getting at is that we are entering the portion of the fantasy baseball season where it's time to get rid of the froth. The good players are more than likely owned and most of the underachieving players have already been dumped. Every week I look at roster trends and it gets tougher and tougher to find names without recycling old ones. That being said lets take a look at what is out there:

Catcher

Jeff Clement- Comes to the majors hitting .397 with 5 HR and 20 RBI, after having a fine 2007 campaign that featured him slugging 20HR. The Mariners are starved for offense and will probably wind up giving Clement a shot a shot to impress as the everyday DH, and to occasionally spell Kenji Johjima behind the plate.

To me it is a bit strange to hand over the DH duties to a young player who is not used to DHing on the major league level. To the outside observer, the DH position appears to be an easy task that merely involves going to the plate 4 times and trying hit a baseball. For young players however, the switch from being on the field all the time to being a player who sits around and then is expected to hit is a challenge. They have trouble remaining focused on the game and keeping up their competitive juices.

A decent idea might be to move him over to 1B and try to find him some at bats there. Clement won't get behind the plate consistently enough because Kenji is a formidable starter and just signed a 3 year extension. First base for Seattle is currently manned by Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro. One is an automatic out, the other is an automatic out with sporadic power, who strikes out too much.

I wouldn't get too excited over Clement quite yet. A catcher who will DH everyday would be great in most leagues because it means less days off and more at bats and potential days to put up stats. That being said I think Seattle has to go out and get a real veteran bat who can handle major league pitching. The acquisition of Erik Bedard in the offseason signaled that the Mariners are in win-now mode. Yet despite one of the best 1-2 starting pitching combos in baseball, they have underachieved thus far because they can't score any runs.

I know talk is cheap and there really aren't rumors or article to justify me saying this other than my gut, but I think Seattle needs to go out and get Barry Bonds. That line up needs an overhaul, and Bonds is a guy who can single handedly change the dynamic of a line up.

Yadier Molina- Molina is hot right now and has always been considered the most talented of the Molina brothers, causing many owners to go out and grab him. But even with the hot streak Molina is only on pace for 10HR and 50RBI to go along with an average in the .270s. In other words he is in line with his career averages and on pace to be a mediocre fantasy option yet again.

First Base

Aubrey Huff- He is hot right now so he cracked the list. Huff is prone to these hot and cold streaks, but if you are in a league with unlimited adds, then he is worth the grab while he is hot. Huff should be good for 20HR, despite the fact that his power numbers have steadily been declining since 2003. He bottomed out with 15HR last season, yet has 5 already this year and looks primed or a rebound season. Look for 20-25HR max with 75RBI if things break right. He is a solid add if you are hard up for some cheap pop or a 1B

Second Base

Howie Kendrick- I have been a big fa Kendrick for a while now, yet he has shown to be a bit injury prone thus far in his young career. Hopefully he has gotten the injury bug over with for this season and can go on to have another fine season as he did last year. He has missed roughly a month so still has the potential to muster 450 at bats and hit .320AVG with 10HR and a few stolen bases along the way.

I would be shocked if he were available in many leagues still, but if he is go out and grab him. He is a stud who can handle the bat with the best of them.

Third Base

Jose Bautista- Talented player who has underachieved for years and is once again giving fantasy owners a reason to believe. Bautista is 27 this season, so perhaps he got the memo that this is supposed to be his hitting prime a good time to have a career season. He can draw a walk and can hit for a bit over power and is worth an add in deeper leagues.

Despite his recent hot streak, keep in mind that the majority of his stats this season have come in the span of 2 games, on May 2nd and May 3rd, where he went 5/8 with 3HR and 7RBI. Go and get him if you need a 3B, that Pittsburgh line up has been awful and if he can continue to hit they may put him in the middle of the line up; adding to his value.

Shortstop

No one worth mentioning this week, check out the archive for some add ideas. I could write up Brendan Harris, but my keyboard would get mad at me.

Super Utility Man (1B, 2B, 3B)


Ty Wigginton- Is eligible all over the infield, except SS which makes him a valuable utility guy in all fantasy leagues. He has hit over 20HR the last 2 seasons and finished with roughly 70RBI and a .270AVG in each. He is worth a grab in all leagues, as he can fill in all over and can even be an everyday starter depending on how deep your league is.

Outfield


Wladimir Balentien- Seattle's other young slugger called up to help support the line up with some much needed pop. To show their faith in the youngster they immediately stopped donating money to the Brad Wilkerson Fund, and cut him from the major league roster. He will hit the occasional long ball, but this is an awful lot of pressure Seattle is putting on two young players to perform.

I would stay away from young Wladimir this early in his young career. Rookies can be too streaky and really look over matched and struggle for periods of time. He will hit about 15 or so HR, but expect a low batting average and with the Mariner's line up being what it is don't look for a tone of run support or men on base to drive in. Bottom line, I don't like it.

Jack Cust- WE'RE GOING STREAKING! He had an awful April and was being dumped in many leagues. He is hot now and clubbing HR like it is 2007 again. If he was dropped in your league go out and grab him. He never lost his batter's eye and was able to draw a walk even while he wasn't going well, so the talent never left, just his ability to put a good swing on the ball, and make consistent contact.

Emil Brown- I tried to avoid him for as long as I could, but he is having a good season and can't be ignored any longer. He seems to be making solid contributions in all parts of the game with 19R, 26RBI, 3HR and 1SB. Brown is 33, so I doubt he has become that much better of a player in the course of the last year or so. It looks like Brown was hot in the beginning of the season, as he is on pace to have 127RBI, almost 40 more than he previous high. For a player at this age, with his mediocre power, it just doesn't seem possible for him to keep up these kind of numbers. Don't buy the numbers and if you own him, sell high to some sucker who don't bother to check his resume.

Barry Bonds- He really isn't on any most added list, but I got a feeling. With Seattle and Detroit both struggling to score runs, it only seems like a matter of time. Gary Sheffield returned to the outfield on Monday night at his own request, but that could open up the door for Bonds to comeback and split time between DH and LF with Sheffield.

Seattle has Jose Vidro and Richie Sexson at DH and both are just playing horrifically. To be a legit team they will need to do something to spark the line up and while everyone wants to avoid Bonds, he is the elephant in the middle of the FA hitter's market.

Even in Toronto there are people who say there are advantages to a Bonds signing. They need some spark in that line up to help take some pressure of of Alex Rios and Vernon Wells. Bonds could be the everyday DH there and that would enable Matt Stairs to go back to the being in the super utility role that he has thrived in for the past couple seasons.

For years people have gone out of their way to stash Roger Clemens on their bench while they waited for him to come back and start the season in late May or June. It could be a similar scenario playing out with Bonds for this season.

Criminal proceedings and perjury charges aside he can still hit and his off the field issues, won't be creeping up on him until after the season. Any team that takes a chance on him will have to deal with the initial media bonanza, but after a few weeks it'll die down and be about baseball again. It could be worth the investment for a few struggling teams who both had much higher expectations going into the season.

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