D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Action on Jackson

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Get ready, folks. The next 80 hours or so are going to be very, very interesting. We're rapidly approaching the MLB trade deadline and if the madness of Wednesday was any indication, we should see a flurry of activity between now and 4 p.m. ET on Sunday. Be sure to keep it locked to our player news page for all the latest wheelings and dealings.

I'll go over some of the early trade fallout below, but you won't find Yonder Alonso here since I already included him in my NL-only recommendations last week. Sometimes it pays to try to think ahead.

Let's move on to the good stuff.


Edwin Jackson SP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 40 percent owned, ESPN: 18.9 percent)

What better place to start? The Cardinals may have sacrificed a major part of their future in trading Colby Rasmus to Toronto, but Jackson should benefit with the switch over to the National League and the opportunity to work with pitching guru Dave Duncan. While his 3.92 ERA and 97/39 K/BB ratio should already be palatable for many in mixed leagues, consider that the 27-year-old right-hander actually has a 3.13 ERA and 65/22 K/BB ratio since the start of May. Pick him up in hopes that his solid contract year continues.

Josh Reddick OF, Red Sox (Yahoo: 16 percent owned, ESPN: 38.1 percent)

Just in case it wasn't obvious already, it's about time to take Reddick seriously in mixed leagues. Many wondered what would happen to his playing time when Carl Crawford returned from his hamstring injury, but J.D. Drew's struggles and subsequent trip to the disabled list have effectively put those concerns in the rearview mirror. Barring a last-minute trade, anyway. I don't expect Reddick to maintain his current .358 batting average for the long haul, as his production has been buoyed by a rather unsustainable BABIP, but the 24-year-old makes for a solid buy in this juggernaut lineup.

Jeff Niemann SP, Rays (Yahoo: 17 percent owned, ESPN: 21.5 percent)

Niemann has really flipped the switch since returning from a lower back strain in June, posting a 2.23 ERA and 30/9 K/BB ratio over six starts. This includes allowing holding the Yankees and Cardinals to one run and striking out a career-high 10 over eight innings of shutout ball against the first-place Red Sox in the marathon Sunday night game on July 17. Niemann remains a durability risk in the long-term, but recommending him against the Mariners on Friday night is a relative no-brainer.

Jonathan Lucroy C, Brewers (Yahoo: 39 percent owned, ESPN: 45.4 percent)

Lucroy has predictably slowed down a bit from his BABIP-fueled hot start, but he remains a respectable option at a rather thin catcher position. The 25-year-old is batting .289 (11-for-38) since the All-Star break, though it's worth noting that all of his hits have been singles. Hey, I'm all about honesty here. Five of Lucroy's seven home runs came in the span of 17 games in May, so it would be unwise to expect much in the way of power, but if you're looking for an injury fill-in for Brian McCann, you could do much worse.

James McDonald SP, Pirates (Yahoo: 10 percent owned, ESPN: 4.1 percent)

Did you know that McDonald is 7-2 with a 2.68 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 90 2/3 innings dating back to April 27? It's true. Even better, the 26-year-old right-hander has a 1.52 ERA and 32/10 K/BB ratio over his last five starts. Granted, McDonald has allowed far too many baserunners overall (1.54 WHIP, 4.28 BB/9) and hasn't completed seven innings in a start this season, but there's simply no reason why he should be available in so many leagues.

Chase Headley 3B, Padres (Yahoo: 28 percent owned, ESPN: 49.2 percent)

Is Headley the most exciting fantasy option in the world? Of course not. But he has provided sneaky value at third base this season, despite slugging just three home runs in 333 at-bats. In addition to his .297 batting average and .384 on-base percentage, the 27-year-old is tied for third in the league with 27 doubles. This has led to a .789 OPS, which is better than other third sackers like Chipper Jones, Ty Wigginton, Placido Polanco, Danny Valencia and Alberto Callaspo, just to name a few. Assuming his recent calf issue is behind him, Headley is a good bet to sprinkle in a few more stolen bases the rest of the way. While I like him in deeper mixed leagues, he makes for a better target for those who have OBP and/or OPS as categories.

Erik Bedard SP, Mariners (Yahoo: 49 percent owned, ESPN: 47.7 percent)

When Bedard went on the disabled list last month with a sprained left knee, the general consensus was that he would be back shortly after the All-Star break, allowing the Mariners plenty of time to showcase him to potential suitors. It hasn't worked out that way, as the oft-injured southpaw will finally rejoin the M's rotation Friday night against the Rays. Bedard will be on a limited pitch count in his return, but remember that he had a 3.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 85/26 K/BB over 15 starts prior to the injury. Hopefully there's still enough time for him to be rescued by a contender.

Jon Jay OF, Cardinals (Yahoo: 8 percent owned, ESPN: 12.4 percent)

We can safely call Jay one of the prominent "winners" in the Colby Rasmus deal, as he should see most of the playing time in center field moving forward. The 26-year-old is batting .311/.361/.439 with an .801 OPS this season and has hit safely in each of his last seven games. While Jay may not have the eventual upside of a player like Rasmus, he should do enough in the power and speed categories to warrant consideration in five-outfielder leagues.

Hideki Matsui UT, Athletics (Yahoo: 11 percent owned, ESPN: 16.4 percent)

I didn't think I would ever mention Matsui in another "Waiver Wired" again, but here we are. The 37-year-old is batting .444 (20-for-45) with three homers and 17 RBI in 11 games since the All-Star break. It's an incredible rate of production when you consider that he had six homers and 34 RBI over the first 76 games of the season.
It's unlikely he'll be able to duplicate his .309/.402/.554 batting line and .955 OPS from the second half last season, especially playing half of his games at O.co (seriously?) Coliseum, but plug him in your utility spot while he's hot.

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

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

Alex Cobb SP, Rays (Yahoo: 7 percent owned, ESPN: 6 percent)

The Rays were expected to send Cobb back to the minors when Wade Davis returned from the disabled list last week, but Joe Maddon elected to keep him around as part of a six-man rotation. The 23-year-old right-hander has impressed by posting a 2.57 ERA and 24/16 K/BB ratio over his first seven major league starts. While Cobb doesn't have overpowering stuff, he induces plenty of ground balls. And with a quality defense behind him, that is very good news for fantasy owners. Who knows how long the Rays will stick with this arrangement, but Cobb makes for a quality streaming option Saturday against the Mariners.

Jason Bourgeois OF, Astros (Yahoo: 5 percent owned, ESPN: 6.9 percent)

Say hello to the Astros' new No. 3 hitter. OK, not quite. Bourgeois only batted third Wednesday because Hunter Pence was out of the lineup. Still, the speedy outfielder should see more playing time moving forward. Astros manager Brad Mills said Monday that he will pick his spots for struggling rookie Brett Wallace, which means that we'll likely see more of Carlos Lee at first base and Bourgeois in left field. We all know what the 29-year-old is capable of doing when he gets the green light (17-for-22 in stolen base attempts this season), so hopefully he can stay healthy enough to take advantage of the opportunity. Keep an eye on him in deeper mixed formats.

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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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