D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Chasing Chapman

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Welcome back, everyone.

I hope you used the downtime of the All-Star break to your advantage. Not only is it an ideal time to take stock of your roster and evaluate your chance for fantasy success during the second half, but it's also an opportunity to recharge your batteries. Maybe hang out with some people you've been ignoring since April. Perhaps take in a movie or a read a book. Sometimes taking a break from fantasy baseball altogether can really give you a fresh perspective on things.

Anyway, in case you hadn't noticed, "Silly Season" is officially underway. Just minutes after Prince Fielder was named the MVP of Tuesday's All-Star Game, the Brewers acquired Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets. Apparently K-Rod and John Axford will share save chances in Milwaukee moving forward, which does a real number to each pitcher's fantasy value. Unless you're in a holds league, that is. Hurts a little less there.

My best advice for this month is to stay on your toes. Trades will happen. Players will be affected. But in most cases these trades will present new opportunities for other players. And that, my friends, is exactly what the waiver wire is for.


Mike Adams RP, Padres (Yahoo: 36 percent owned, ESPN: 18.9 percent)

With impending free agent Heath Bell a near-lock to be dealt before the trade deadline, it's high time to secure his replacement. You might not realize this, but Adams has a 1.71 ERA since the start of the 2008 season, averaging 10.0 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. That's video game-like dominance. Granted, he only has two major league saves to his name, but you have to like his chances of succeeding if given the opportunity. Of course, there's always the chance that he could also be traded, so don't forget the more widely-available Luke Gregerson (Yahoo: 21 percent, ESPN: 0.8 percent), as well.

Ike Davis 1B, Mets (Yahoo: 45 percent owned, ESPN: 40.4 percent)

Davis finally made some progress this past weekend, as he was able to test his ankle by running on flat ground while bearing his full body weight. It once looked like season-ending microfracture surgery was in his future, but now his rehab is officially off and running. Well, sort of. He's still likely a few weeks away from returning, but remember that the 24-year-old first baseman was hitting .302/.383/.543 with seven homers, 25 RBI and a .925 OPS over his first 149 plate appearances before the injury. He's worth stashing in all formats if you have the room on your DL.

Javier Vazquez SP, Marlins (Yahoo: 26 percent owned, ESPN: 5 percent)

Probably never thought you'd see this guy in Waiver Wired again, huh? I had my doubts, too, but Vazquez has a sterling 1.19 ERA and 19/3 K/BB ratio over his last five starts. In his last outing last Friday, he was averaging just over 90 mph on his fastball and 84 mph on his slider. Not great, but could be enough to thrive in the National League in certain matchups. Speaking of which, I like him for tentative upcoming starts against the Cubs and Padres.

Jose Tabata OF, Pirates (Yahoo: 48 percent owned, ESPN: 27.4 percent)

Alex Presley has earned consideration for more playing time moving forward, but I fully expect Tabata to get his left field job back once he returns from a quad injury. While he was batting an underwhelming .265 before the injury, his walk rate has jumped from 6.3 percent in his rookie campaign to 11.1 percent this season. He also has 14 stolen bases in 20 attempts. And you have to like that from your leadoff man. I was a big fan of Tabata coming into the season and haven't wavered one bit. The 23-year-old has already begun a rehab assignment and could rejoin the Pirates any day now, so I'd file him away if available.

Bobby Parnell RP, Mets (Yahoo: 19 percent owned, ESPN: 14.3 percent)

The Mets did the inevitable late Tuesday night, trading Francisco Rodriguez and cash considerations to the Brewers. I know, I know. You want to hear who gets the ball next in the ninth inning. I get that. The Mets haven't tipped their hand yet, but the hard-throwing Parnell looks like the the best bet in the long-term. He's been carving up opposing batters recently, putting up an outstanding 1.56 ERA and 19/4 K/BB ratio since returning from the disabled list at the end of May. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jason Isringhausen (Yahoo: 12 percent owned, ESPN: 2.3 percent) get some initial save chances, if only to increase his trade value in the coming days. FYI: Izzy is just seven saves away from 300 for his career.

Aroldis Chapman RP, Reds (Yahoo: 40 percent owned, ESPN: 16.8 percent)

A couple things to keep in mind here. Francisco Cordero has struggled miserably of late, blowing each of his last three save opportunities while giving up six earned runs over his last four appearances. Meanwhile, Chapman has been electric since returning from the minors, posting a 1.04 ERA and 17/2 K/BB ratio over 8 2/3 innings. The Cuban fireballer is currently working on a streak of six consecutive scoreless appearances. Will he take Cordero's job? Maybe not, but the strikeouts should be plenty useful in most mixed leagues regardless.

Gavin Floyd SP, White Sox (Yahoo: 49 percent owned, ESPN: 30.1 percent)

Floyd didn't exactly come roaring into the All-Star break, now did he? He was smoked for seven runs over 3 2/3 innings against the Twins last Friday and is 0-4 with a 6.14 ERA over his last six starts. Fortunately, if we've learned anything about Floyd over the years, it's that he's one of the streakiest starting pitchers around. While his fly ball and contact rates are a little higher than I'd like to see, his secondary numbers (6.45 K/9 and 2.42 BB/9) aren't that far off from what we've seen historically. I'd buy-low right now.

Brian Duensing SP/RP, Twins (Yahoo: 10 percent owned, ESPN: 3.4 percent)

Duensing has a 2.47 ERA and 28/14 K/BB ratio over his last seven starts, lowering his ERA from 5.37 to 4.13 in the process. Pretty impressive turnaround for a guy who Ron Gardenhire nearly booted to the bullpen in May. I wouldn't necessarily trust him every time out right now, especially against righty-heavy lineups, but I like him as a streaming option against the Royals on Sunday. His eligibility as a reliever is just an added bonus if you're trying to juggle your roster.

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

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

Or, for the purposes of this week, we'll call it "Middle Infielder Extravaganza."

Eduardo Nunez 3B/SS, Yankees (Yahoo: 6 percent owned, ESPN: 7.3 percent)

Alex Rodriguez will be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks following knee surgery, which means that Nunez is projected to see most of the playing time at the hot corner. The 24-year-old is hitting .279 with 12 extra-base hits (three homers), 14 RBI and a .752 OPS over 133 plate appearances this season. Of course, the most useful thing about him from a fantasy perspective is his plus-speed. He's stolen 10 bases in 14 attempts this season and has swiped 113 bases over 656 minor league games. With this lineup, he's worth consideration if you're looking to fill a MI (middle infielder) spot.

Scott Sizemore 2B/3B, Athletics (Yahoo: 4 percent owned, ESPN: 1.8 percent)

Sizemore, once a fantasy sleeper entering the 2010 season, may have finally found a home in Oakland. The 26-year-old is batting .287/.350/.468 with four homers and 14 RBI over 106 plate appearances since the surprise trade from Detroit at the end of May. He has taken over as the starting third baseman with the A's, but thankfully he still has his handy eligibility at second base. There could be some deeper formats where he would make sense at either position, but similar to Nunez, I like him most in a MI (middle infielder) spot.

Zack Cozart SS, Reds (Yahoo: 3 percent owned, ESPN: 1.3 percent)

Remember how last week I said I was on Cozart watch? Well, he was called up from the minors just hours after my column was submitted. Talk about convenient. The 25-year-old is 5-for-16 (.313) to begin his major league career and should get a pretty long leash considering the Reds' alternatives at shortstop. While Cozart was hitting .310 with Triple-A Louisville this season, what you're really buying is his potential in the power and speed categories. The 2007 second-round pick hit 17 homers and stole 30 bases over 136 games last season. While I consider him a must-add if you need a middle infielder, I wouldn't be shocked if he ends up a respectable option at shortstop in deeper mixed leagues.

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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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