D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Thursday, May 31, 2012


One of the most popular waiver wire adds this week is Roy Oswalt, who signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rangers. He's making his first tune-up start Saturday with Triple-A Round Rock and should be ready to join the Rangers' rotation in late June.

It's a good fit for the Rangers, as Neftali Feliz is on the disabled list with a strained UCL in his right elbow and is likely to return as a reliever, but I have some doubts about whether Oswalt will make a major impact in mixed leagues the rest of the way. Keep in mind that the 34-year-old right-hander has never pitched full-time in the American League before and is coming off a season where he posted the lowest strikeout rate of his career (6.02 K/9) and had two stints on the disabled list due to a lingering back condition.

Oswalt is a no-brainer pick-up in AL-only leagues if you can swing it and he's worth waiting for in deeper mixed formats, but those in shallow leagues likely have comparable options on the waiver wire that can contribute right away. Sure, Oswalt should do well enough if healthy and the Rangers' offense should put him in line for plenty of wins, but don't get too carried away by name recognition and past performance.

If you missed out on Oswalt in a deeper mixed league, don't fret. Kris Medlen was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett earlier this week in order to be stretched out as a starting pitcher and should be ready to join the Braves' rotation around the same time that Oswalt is projected to join the Rangers. There's serious sneaky potential there.

MIXED LEAGUES

Dexter Fowler OF, Rockies (Yahoo: 49 percent owned, ESPN: 21.4 percent)

Look who has turned things around in a hurry. After hitting just .230 over his first 113 at-bats this season, Fowler has collected 10 hits (including three homers) in his last 15 at-bats to raise his batting average to .281 on the season. Thanks to his recent hot streak, he has also found himself back atop the Rockies' lineup, which is a pretty nice place to be given his strong on-base skills. Many fantasy owners invested after Fowler's strong second half last year and while he was a dud early on, perhaps he's finally ready to deliver. The 26-year-old makes for a strong add in most formats right now.

A.J. Burnett SP, Pirates (Yahoo: 19 percent owned, ESPN: 15.2 percent)

Go ahead, keep dismissing Burnett because of the way he imploded in New York. You are missing out on a pretty good pitcher. The 35-year-old right-hander had another strong outing Wednesday night against the NL Central-leading Reds, allowing just one unearned run over seven innings. Setting aside his 12-run clunker against the Cardinals, he has a 1.52 ERA in his other seven starts. That's right, a 1.52 ERA. What's not to like here?

Carlos Quentin OF, Padres (Yahoo: 45 percent owned, ESPN: 39.1 percent)

Quentin's long-awaited return won't be enough to save the last-place Padres, but he can still help most fantasy owners. The 29-year-old outfielder has been red-hot since coming off the disabled list Monday, going 7-for-12 with three homers, three doubles and six RBI in three games. I don't doubt that he'll miss hitting in U.S. Cellular Field, but PETCO Park isn't nearly as hard on right-handed batters as it is left-handed batters. Besides, with Quentin due to hit free agency this offseason, he's likely to be trade bait in the days ahead. He's well worth a look if you need some pop in your lineup.

Erik Bedard SP, Pirates (Yahoo: 43 percent owned, ESPN: 18.4 percent)

Yes, here's another Pirates' starting pitcher for your consideration. I actually mentioned Bedard a little over six weeks ago, but he continues to get very little love from fantasy owners, despite posting a very solid 3.12 ERA and 51/22 K/BB ratio in 52 innings across his first 10 starts this year. Bedard's recent back issue functions as a reminder that he could hit the disabled list at any time, but he should continue to be effective as long as he takes the hill.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, Red Sox (Yahoo: 45 percent owned, ESPN: 25.2 percent)

One of the game's most productive catchers so far this season, Saltalamacchia is batting .274 with nine homers, 22 RBI and an .883 OPS through 39 games. The 27-year-old is tied with Mike Napoli and J.P. Arencibia for the home run lead among catchers and ranks fifth in OPS behind Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Lucroy, A.J. Ellis and Yadier Molina. Saltalamacchia doesn't walk a lot and strikes out too much to maintain a high batting average, but he has a strong chance at reaching 20 homers and 60 RBI for the first time in his career. That's good enough for him to be a top-12 catcher in mixed leagues.

Felix Doubront SP/RP, Red Sox (Yahoo: 27 percent owned, ESPN: 21.3 percent)

We're two months into the season and Doubront has very quietly been the Red Sox best starting pitcher. Not bad for someone who had to compete for a rotation spot during spring training. The 24-year-old southpaw holds a 3.86 ERA and 59/24 K/BB ratio in 56 innings over his first 10 starts and hasn't allowed more than two runs in each of his last four outings. While his control (3.86 BB/9) could be better, his 3.53 xFIP suggests that his early success is for real. He shouldn't be sitting on the wire in 12-14 team mixed leagues.

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

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

Tom Wilhelmsen RP, Mariners (Yahoo: 9 percent owned, ESPN: 5.4 percent)

Brandon League lost his closer job over the weekend after blowing three out of his final five save opportunities. He has walked 12 batters over 21 1/3 innings this season after walking just 10 in 61 1/3 innings last year, so he clearly isn't the same pitcher right now. While the Mariners try to get him back on track and perhaps resuscitate his trade value, Wilhelmsen is the one to speculate on in mixed leagues. The 28-year-old right-hander brings mid-90s heat to go along with a big breaking curveball and owns a 3.72 ERA and 60/22 K/BB ratio over his first 58 innings in the big leagues. Charlie Furbush is another possibility for saves, but because he's left-handed, he'll likely only be used in matchup situations.

Shawn Camp RP, Cubs (Yahoo: 5 percent owned, ESPN: 3.7 percent)

We all knew it was just a matter of time before Rafael Dolis lost his grip on the closer role, but the Cubs went a step further this week by demoting him to the minors. James Russell was trusted with the first post-Dolis save chance on Tuesday and holds a 1.54 ERA this season, but I'm just not a big believer. We're talking about a southpaw who throws in high-80s and has succeeded this year with a strand rate of 92.5 percent and a fly ball rate of 49.3 percent. That's probably not going to last. Camp isn't a hard-thrower either, but at least he's right-handed and keeps the ball on the ground. This isn't a strong endorsement, mind you, but Camp is the better bet moving forward. By the way, it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep Carlos Marmol stashed.

Steve Lombardozzi 3B/OF, Nationals (Yahoo: 1 percent owned, ESPN: 1.4 percent)

Lombardozzi isn't the most exciting option in shallow mixed formats, but he is hitting .320 right now while batting leadoff for the Nationals. And there's a good chance that will continue for a while, as Davey Johnson plans to play him in the outfield even after Michael Morse returns from the disabled list. A switch-hitter, Lombardozzi has a knack for making contact and hitting line drives. And while he hasn't shown it thus far, he has enough speed to steal double-digit bases. With his multi-position eligibility, Lombardozzi should be a pretty useful player in deeper leagues.

Rajai Davis OF, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 4 percent owned, ESPN: 2.6 percent)

The Blue Jays demoted the struggling Eric Thames to Triple-A Las Vegas earlier this week, clearing the way for Davis to get significant playing time in left field in the short-term. Most savvy fantasy owners should know why this is good news. The speedy 31-year-old has 185 stolen bases in just 607 major league games, including eight in 10 tries this year. While you are primarily buying for the speed, it's nice to see that Davis has already cranked three homers this year after hitting just one in 338 plate appearances last year. He's a solid buy in deeper mixed leagues, including five-outfielder formats.

Wilin Rosario C, Rockies (Yahoo: 7 percent owned, ESPN: 0.4 percent)

Ramon Hernandez was placed on the disabled list last week with a hand injury, so Rosario is getting his first chance at extended playing time in the big leagues. He's actually been plenty productive until now, clubbing seven homers in just 87 at-bats this season. Of course, he has also struck out 28.7 percent of the time and has drawn only four walks, so you aren't buying him for his batting average or on-base ability. There are obvious flaws in Rosario's game at this point, but the plus-power and regular playing time render him a fine option in two-catcher formats, at least in the short-term.

Anthony Rizzo 1B, Cubs (Yahoo: 9 percent owned, ESPN: 3.7 percent)

When will Rizzo make his Cubs' debut? It's hard to say. Some believe it will happen during interleague play next weekend while others think the Cubs will hold off until late June due to service time implications. Either way, he's close. While the 22-year-old recently suffered a minor wrist injury, he's hitting .354/.415/.713 with 17 homers, 46 RBI and a 1.128 OPS through 48 games this season with Triple-A Iowa. It's worth remembering that he fell flat on his face in his first taste of the big leagues last year, so you can bet that GM Jed Hoyer won't call him up this time until they think he's ready. But those in deeper formats would be smart to stash.


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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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