D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Homer Happy

Thursday, May 12, 2011

I'm a man of my word. One month ago I said I would check in on Willie Bloomquist (who was owned in 74 percent of Y! leagues and 61.4 percent of ESPN.com leagues at the time) to see if he could maintain his early season production.

It's a little less fun to brag about this one since the man got hurt, but after my column was posted, he batted .211 over his final 19 at-bats before going on the disabled list. Small, perhaps even cheap victory, but I'll take it.

The most interesting part about this whole thing is that Bloomquist is still owned in 27 percent of Y! leagues and 15 percent of ESPN.com leagues. I guess we now know who stopped paying attention to their fantasy team after the first week of the season.


Homer Bailey SP, Reds (Yahoo: 25 percent owned, ESPN: 21.5 percent)

Bailey, who began the year on the disabled list with a shoulder impingement, has been brilliant over his first two starts, allowing just one run while striking out 12 and walking one. Granted, both starts were against the Astros, but his early success isn't coming completely out of nowhere. The former 2004 first-round pick hinted at a breakthrough last season by posting a 3.55 ERA and 59/19 K/BB ratio over 10 starts after the All-Star break. Grab him now before he finally matches the hype.

Domonic Brown OF, Phillies (Yahoo: 24 percent owned, ESPN: 3.3 percent)

Here's one for the forward-thinking owners out there. Brown was forced to miss the beginning of the season due to hamate bone surgery, but he's off to a fantastic start with Triple-A Lehigh Valley during his rehab assignment, batting .353 (12-for-34) with two homers, two doubles and seven RBI. I didn't expect the power to rebound this quickly, but he could be knocking on the door for a callup to the majors before you know it.

Julio Borbon OF, Rangers (Yahoo: 7 percent owned, ESPN: 21.8 percent)

Rangers manager Ron Washington tweaked his starting lineup this week by moving Borbon into the leadoff spot. The 25-year-old center fielder has earned his way back into Washington's good graces by batting .387 (12-for-31) with one double, one triple, five RBI and four stolen bases over his last 10 games. Who knows how long Washington will stick with this current configuration, but don't sleep on Borbon's speed and run scoring potential.

Freddie Freeman 1B, Braves (Yahoo: 24 percent owned, ESPN: 30.4 percent)

Freeman's rookie season hasn't exactly begun with a bang, but at least he's showing some signs of breaking out of his slump. The 21-year-old first baseman is batting .296 (8-for-27) over his last eight games, including a home run against Cole Hamels last Sunday. Freeman has been batting sixth since mid-April and should be in a prime position to drive in runs moving forward. He's not a bad backup plan if you missed out on Eric Hosmer or have concerns about Ike Davis' calf injury.

Jamey Carroll 2B/3B/SS/OF, Dodgers (Yahoo: 14 percent owned, ESPN: 6.8 percent)

Don't look now, but Carroll has been one of the game's hottest hitters this month, batting .342 (13-for-38) with two doubles, six runs scored and a 4/5 K/BB ratio. He doesn't have any power, but is batting leadoff and offers some sneaky speed for a 37-year-old. Rafael Furcal won't begin his minor league rehab assignment until at least Saturday, so Carroll should continue to play everyday at least until sometime next week. The veteran utility man makes for a useful short-term play, especially with his handy multi-position eligibility.

Travis Wood SP, Reds (Yahoo: 18 percent owned, ESPN: 42.1 percent)

Wood has turned things around quite nicely by notching consecutive quality starts for the first time this season. Like his teammate Homer Bailey, both of the starts against the Astros, but the truth is that he was never as bad as his ERA suggested in the first place. Despite his ugly 5.28 ERA, the 24-year-old southpaw has a very healthy 40/14 K/BB ratio over 44 1/3 innings. Wood can't possibly have a .356 batting average on balls in play against him all season, so he's a prime buy-low target right now.

Jason Hammel SP, Rockies (Yahoo: 10 percent, ESPN: 23.4 percent)

Another one of my "Under the Radar Hurlers" from February, Hammel has an impressive 3.02 ERA over his first seven starts this season. The main difference for Hammel is that he has been able to pitch well with runners on base, which is something that he has struggled with in the past. His strikeouts are down a bit (5.44 K/9) from his career norm, but he has a solid chance of finishing with an ERA under 4.00 if he can finally manage to strand baserunners near the league average.

Mark Trumbo 1B, Angels (Yahoo: 16 percent owned, ESPN: 16.5 percent)

You probably heard the news by now that Kendrys Morales needs another ankle surgery and will miss the rest of the season. While it's a tough blow for the Angels and many fantasy owners, Trumbo should continue to see the majority of the playing time at first base moving forward. The 25-year-old found himself in a massive slump near the end of April, but is batting .355 with three homers and eight RBI over his last nine games. I'm a little concerned about his plate discipline (29/6 K/BB ratio) so far, but he's a pretty solid option in leagues that require a CI (corner infielder) spot.

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

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

Rick Porcello SP, Tigers (Yahoo: 7 percent owned, ESPN: 4.7 percent)

I'm somewhat amazed how Porcello continues to fly under the radar in mixed leagues. The 22-year-old right-hander has a 1.99 ERA over his last five starts and has allowed two runs or less in all of them. He's currently striking out batters at a career-high rate (5.83 K/9) while showing his usual solid command and a ground ball rate around 50 percent. No, Porcello isn't going to be a top tier fantasy starter, but he should absolutely be owned in more leagues right now.

James McDonald SP, Pirates (Yahoo: 6 percent owned, ESPN: 3.2 percent)

I included McDonald in my NL-only recommendations a few weeks back, but I had a feeling it wouldn't be long before he found his way back into relevancy in mixed leagues. The 26-year-old right-hander has allowed a grand total of two runs over his last three starts and matched a career-high with eight strikeouts in his last outing. His shaky command is still a bit worrisome, but he's looking a lot more like the pitcher who posted a 3.52 ERA over 11 starts after joining the Pirates last season. Give him a try against the Brewers on Friday night.

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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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