D.J. Short

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Get Rich Quick

Thursday, August 25, 2011

You'll notice that I have increased the number of mixed league recommendations this week. And there's a good reason for that. Now that we're in crunch-time, everybody is looking for something different. Players that you wouldn't have considered a few months ago are suddenly very relevant as you attempt to make up ground in crucial categories. Hey, whatever works, right?

Don't be afraid to take chances right now. For instance, if for some reason you still have Jason Isringhausen on your roster, why not dump him and pick up Steve Cishek? Sure, Marlins manager Jack McKeon continues to stand behind Leo Nunez, but what happens if he continues to struggle? Get out in front of these situations if you have the roster flexibility.

Let's move on to the good stuff.


Logan Morrison OF, Marlins (Yahoo: 27 percent owned, ESPN: 36.9 percent)

Morrison's demotion came as quite a shock earlier this month, but he never figured to stay in the minors for long. The Twitter aficionado was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans as soon as he was eligible on Wednesday and went 2-for-8 with a solo homer and two runs scored in a doubleheader against the Reds. While his production has really tailed off since June, Morrison has an .855 OPS against right-handed pitching this season. If you are willing to play the matchups, he can be plenty useful down the stretch.

Rich Harden SP, Athletics (Yahoo: 24 percent owned, ESPN: 17.3 percent)

Yes, it's time to take Harden seriously again. The oft-injured right-hander matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts last Friday against the Blue Jays and has a 3.91 ERA and 60 strikeouts over 53 innings since making his season debut with the Athletics at the start of July. His matchup against the Yankees on Thursday is a tough call, but he should get a soft landing against the depleted Indians next week.

Nick Hundley C, Padres (Yahoo: 12 percent owned, ESPN: 8.9 percent)

This has somehow managed to fly under the radar, but Hundley has been one of the most productive fantasy catchers since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. The 27-year-old backstop is batting .474 (18-for-38) with two homers, five doubles, four triples, five RBI and 10 runs scored over 11 games in August. We're talking about a .248 career hitter here, so to expect this to continue would be silly, but Hundley has enough pop in his bat to be a reasonable option in deeper leagues.

Sergio Romo RP, Giants (Yahoo: 12 percent owned, ESPN: 3.7 percent)

If you say you know what is going on the Giants' bullpen right now, you are either lying or somehow acquired Gray's Sports Almanac. Can you tell I watched "Back to the Future II" recently? Anyhow, Bruce Bochy could go in any direction while filling in for the injured closer Brian Wilson, but I'm stashing Romo if he's out there. The 28-year-old right-hander threw a bullpen session Wednesday and is slated to make a rehab appearance Friday. If all goes well, he could be back as soon as this weekend. Don't forget, he had a ridiculous 1.67 ERA and 53/4 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings before landing on the disabled list.

R.A. Dickey SP, Mets (Yahoo: 15 percent owned, ESPN: 4.6 percent)

I'll say it, Dickey is just flat-out unlucky. The knuckleballer has six consecutive quality starts under his belt, but has just one win to show for his efforts. Oh well, please let somebody else worry about that. Dickey has a 3.11 ERA and 81/25 K/BB ratio over his last 18 starts dating back to May 20 and hasn't allowed more than four earned runs in any of them. If you're looking for a well-pitched ballgame this weekend, Dickey is one of the best bets available.

Fausto Carmona SP, Indians (Yahoo: 13 percent owned, ESPN: 15.1 percent)

I know, I know. It's pretty difficult to trust this guy. But did you know that Carmona has a 2.49 ERA over seven starts since the All-Star break? It's true. Equally encouraging, the 27-year-old right-hander has allowed three earned runs or less in eight out of his last nine starts dating back to the end of June. And while I wouldn't recommend buying him for strikeouts, he has fanned six in each of his last three outings. He makes for an ideal spot-start against the last-place Royals on Saturday.

Brett Cecil SP, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 20 percent owned, ESPN: 6.8 percent)

Cecil stumbled a bit by walking a season-high five last Friday against the Athletics, but he still managed to deliver his seventh quality start in the span of nine outings. This includes a 2.95 ERA and 43/19 K/BB ratio over 64 innings. It's fair to say that his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and stand rate are likely due for some correction as we move along here, but upcoming matchups against the Royals and Orioles look mighty tasty.

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

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

John Mayberry Jr. OF, Phillies (Yahoo: 6 percent owned, ESPN: 2.4 percent)

It's hard to say Mayberry doesn't deserve a longer look in left field. The 27-year-old has homered in three out of his last six games and is batting .312/.354/.710 with nine home runs, eight doubles, 29 RBI and a 1.063 OPS over 99 plate appearances since returning from the minor leagues in the early part of July. Raul Ibanez is feeling improvement in his sore left groin and hopes to return to the lineup as soon as Friday, but don't be surprised if Mayberry begins to take away some at-bats against right-handers moving forward. Go ahead and pick him up in five-outfielder leagues.

Lucas Duda 1B/OF, Mets (Yahoo: 6 percent owned, ESPN: 7.6 percent)

Duda has seized the opportunity at regular playing time following the trade of Carlos Beltran and the injury to Daniel Murphy, batting .306 (22-for-72) with five home runs, three doubles, 17 RBI and a .926 OPS over 21 games in August. The 25-year-old is batting cleanup these days and with Jose Reyes set to return from the disabled list early next week, he should have plenty of opportunities to knock in runs. With his multi-position eligibility, Duda can help in most formats.

Brandon Allen 1B/OF, Athletics (Yahoo: 3 percent owned, ESPN: 1.6 percent)

I included Allen among my AL-only recommendations immediately following the trade to Oakland, but he's worth a look in deeper mixed leagues now that he's playing every day at first base. The 25-year-old is batting .351/.390/.676 with six extra-base hits and a 1.066 OPS over 41 plate appearances with Oakland, including a pair of monster home runs during Tuesday's game against the Yankees. The A's are committed to taking a long look at him down the stretch, so don't be shy if you need a power bat.

Eric Young Jr.2B/OF, Rockies (Yahoo: 4 percent owned, ESPN: 4.3 percent)

It may seem strange to see EY2 under the mixed league heading, but he has earned it recently. The 26-year-old outfielder is tied for the major league lead with 10 stolen bases this month. He also has 14 runs scored and an impressive 9/11 K/BB ratio. The batting average might not always be there and the power may be non-existent, but Young is doing things when he gets on base. Useful things. Don't let them go to waste.

Eric Thames OF, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 5 percent owned, ESPN: 7.4 percent)

Thames has experienced some ups and downs in his rookie season, but you have to like what you see here. The 24-year-old has 26 extra-base hits over 255 plate appearances, which is more than the likes of the more-widely owned Shin-Soo Choo, Travis Hafner, Delmon Young and, of course, Adam Dunn. You'd like to see his contact rate a bit higher, but his current line drive rate of 25.8 percent gives him a pretty good chance at maintaining a palatable batting average. Worth a look if you need some pop.

Brandon Belt 1B/OF, Giants (Yahoo: 5 percent owned, ESPN: 1.8 percent)

The "Baby Giraffe" has finally been set free. Well, maybe. I'm still not sure I trust Bruce Bochy, but Belt has started four straight games and should continue to play pretty regularly now that Nate Schierholtz is dealing with a fracture in his right foot. The rookie had his first career-four hit game on Sunday and while this isn't the best sample size, he has an impressive .280/.357/.600 batting line and a .957 OPS over 56 major league plate appearances since the All-Star break. The Giants would be positively bonkers to sit him right now.

Mike Moustakas 3B, Royals (Yahoo: 8 percent owned, ESPN: 4.1 percent)

Perhaps Moustakas is finally making some adjustments at the plate? While the rookie third baseman has really struggled in his first taste of the big leagues, he is batting .545 (12-for-22) over his last seven games. Granted, this includes just three extra-base hits (all doubles), but he also has an impressive 3/3 K/BB ratio during the same timespan. I'd leave him be in shallow leagues, but Moose makes for a worthwhile pickup in deeper leagues and those with CI (corner infielder) spots.

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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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