D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Smoak Gets In Your Eyes

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm loyal to a fault. In turn, I usually don't do much tinkering with my roster over the first month of the season. Sure, injuries may force my hand and closers can change on the spin of a dime, but I usually draft a player for a reason.

Still, it's always interesting to see the threshold fantasy owners have for struggling players. One significant example is Madison Bumgarner, who was drafted in most mixed leagues. The young left-hander was dropped by many after posting a 7.79 ERA over his first four starts, but what do we do now that he struck out seven over six innings of one-run ball against the Pirates on Wednesday night? For your sake, I hope you didn't give up too soon. He's probably already gone.

Let's move on to the good stuff.


Darren Oliver RP, Rangers (Yahoo: 19 percent owned, ESPN: 19.6 percent)

Oliver is 2-for-2 in save chances since Neftali Feliz was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Feliz has already been cleared to begin a throwing program and likely shouldn't miss much more time than the minimum, but those hungry for saves could do much worse than the 40-year-old left-hander as a short-term option. Oliver has a 1.74 ERA and 7/0 K/BB ratio over his first 10 1/3 innings this season.

Mike Aviles 2B/3B/SS, Royals (Yahoo: 50 percent owned, ESPN: 18.7 percent)

Chris Getz began the season red-hot, but has begun to lose his grip on the starting second base job by batting .143 (4-for-28) over his last nine games. Meanwhile, Aviles played second base Wednesday night against the Indians and has hit safely in each of his last eight games started. See a trend here? There's little doubt that the Royals best infield alignment has Wilson Betemit at third base and Aviles at second, so it's likely just a matter of time before talent wins out. With multi-position eligibility and the potential for double-digit homers and steals, Aviles can be plenty useful in mixed leagues.

Sergio Santos RP, White Sox (Yahoo: 38 percent owned, ESPN: 33.6 percent)

Santos probably owes a steak dinner to Brent Lillibridge, but the 27-year-old right-hander has successfully converted each of his first two save opportunities this season. Not only that, he hasn't allowed a run over his first 11 2/3 innings of work. Santos has what you like to see from a closer -- mid-90s heat and an electric slider -- but he has also allowed 31 walks over 63 1/3 innings in the big leagues. I doubt he keeps the job for the whole season -- remember, Chris Sale, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain linger -- but Ozzie Guillen should continue to go with the hot hand for now.

Logan Morrison OF, Marlins (Yahoo: 50 percent owned, ESPN: 67 percent)

OK, so maybe I'm cheating a little bit here. Morrison is currently owned in more than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues, which would usually disqualify him from consideration for Waiver Wired, but I'm intrigued only because his ownership numbers are still so darn low. Sure, he's currently on the disabled list, but the 23-year-old outfielder was batting .327/.424/.636 with four homers and 11 RBI over his first 66 plate appearances prior to the injury. He's expected to be back in the early part of May, so why not stash him on the DL if you have the room? It could prove to be a wise move if his excellent April is a sign of a larger breakout.

Justin Smoak 1B, Mariners (Yahoo: 19 percent owned, ESPN: 17.4 percent)

The general consensus was that Smoak's potential fantasy value would take a hit by virtue of playing half of his games in Safeco Field, which is considered one of the most pitcher-friendly stadiums in baseball. That may ultimately be the case, but it's awful hard to tell so far. The 24-year-old first baseman is batting .302/.408/.571 with four homers, five doubles, 14 RBI and a 14/12 K/BB ratio over his first 76 plate appearances this season. He probably won't get a ton of RBI chances with this pathetic Mariners' offense, but I expect him to hit 20-plus homers and a post a high on-base percentage.

Brian Matusz SP, Orioles (Yahoo: 46 percent owned, ESPN: 42.9 percent)

Are people forgetting about this guy? It seems so. Matusz is currently on the disabled list with an intercostal strain, but is nearly ready to throw from a mound. While he'll almost certainly need a few minor league rehab starts in order to build up his workload, a return in mid-May sounds pretty reasonable. The AL East is tough sledding for any pitcher, let alone a 24-year-old, but Matusz actually handled himself pretty well against his divisional foes last season, namely the Red Sox and Yankees. Get him now before his ownership skyrockets.

Luke Scott 1B/OF, Orioles (Yahoo: 31 percent owned, ESPN: 30.2 percent)

While the past few months may have changed the way some feel about the outspoken Scott off the field, he has always carried the reputation as one of the streakiest hitters in the game. The 32-year-old is off to something of a rough start this season, but has hit safely in each of his last three games, including a two-run homer in Wednesday's win over the Red Sox. Could this be the start of something big? Don't wait too long to find out.

Tim Stauffer SP, Padres (Yahoo: 35 percent owned, ESPN: 3.3 percent)

Stauffer had a lot of buzz as a preseason sleeper and has mostly delivered so far, posting a 3.21 ERA and 18/7 K/BB ratio over his first five starts this season. Oddly, he has pitched better on the road than he has at PETCO Park, though we're only talking about a handful of starts right now. Stauffer isn't a big strikeout guy and he's unlikely to get much run support from the Padres' offense, but the important part is that he throws strikes and induces plenty of ground balls. He's rosterable in deeper mixed leagues or as a streaming option in shallow leagues.

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

(Players owned in less than 10 percent of Y! and ESPN.com leagues)

Vicente Padilla RP, Dodgers (Yahoo: 6 percent owned, ESPN: 1.2 percent)

Is there anything more confusing in the fantasy baseball world than the Dodgers' current ninth-inning situation? After some to-and-fro about Jonathan Broxton's job security on Tuesday, Padilla locked down the save in Wednesday's game against the Marlins. It's difficult to say where this is all headed, but Broxton acknowledged Wednesday that he is currently dealing with a sore elbow. Hong-Chih Kuo had a setback in his minor league rehab appearance Tuesday, so he's unlikely to return anytime soon. That leaves Padilla as the best option, almost by default. Pick him up until there's some degree of clarity.

Wilson Ramos C, Nationals (Yahoo: 7 percent owned, ESPN: 0.7 percent)

Mr. Ramos is nearly ready for his closeup. The 23-year-old backstop is in a timeshare with Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate, but has started each of the last three games. And it's pretty easy to understand why. Ramos is batting .375/.426/.563 over his first 54 plate appearances this season and homered twice in Tuesday's game against the Mets. He should be owned in two-catcher leagues and will likely be worth consideration in deeper mixed formats once he becomes the primary catcher for Jim Riggleman's club.

Joel Pineiro SP, Angels (Yahoo: 3 percent owned, ESPN: 9.4 percent)

Here's another one you may have forgotten about. Pineiro was forced to begin the season on the disabled list due to right shoulder tightness, but the Angels are ready to bring him back after only one minor league rehab start. He might not be a strong play in his first start this weekend against the Rays, but with his excellent command and ground ball tendencies, he should be mixed league worthy in subsequent outings as long as he can stay healthy.

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D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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