D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Waiver Wired: Fix a Leake

Thursday, June 6, 2013

When I last left you, I was under the impression that the Dodgers were considering Joc Pederson for a call-up rather than Yasiel Puig. While I wasn't alone on that front, let's just forget that ever happened.

Puig has only been up in the majors for three games, but he's already owned in 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues. That's similar to the rapid buzz that we saw when Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were called up on the same weekend last April. By the way, Puig's teammate Andre Ethier has seen his ownership level drop all the way down to 51 percent in recent days. What have you done for me lately?

Puig will need to keep producing in order to stay on the roster when Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford return, but he clearly has the raw power to be an impact player right away. I'm just not sure the plate discipline will be there. Remember, the 22-year-old only played 63 games in the minors prior to his call-up. Either way, "Puigmania" has been a welcome distraction from all the PED talk this week. And I wouldn't mind if it continued.

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Rex Brothers RP, Rockies (Yahoo: 33 percent owned)

Rafael Betancourt was placed on the disabled list over the weekend with a groin injury, so Brothers is currently filling in at closer. The 25-year-old left-hander has been close to perfect this season, allowing just one run in 25 2/3 innings of work. His velocity is down a couple of ticks and has strikeout rate has dropped from 11.04 K/9 last year to 8.77 K/9 so far this year, but he still throws plenty hard. Perhaps those free passes will come back to bite him at some point, but he's a must-own while Betancourt is sidelined. He could become the full-time closer for Colorado at some point in the near future.

Tony Cingrani SP, Reds (Yahoo: 18 percent owned)

Johnny Cueto landed on the disabled list Wednesday after he aggravated his lat injury, which means that Cingrani should be back on your radar. Yes, the Reds are bringing up Pedro Villareal to start in his place, but that's mostly an issue of timing and Cingrani figures to get a shot if Cueto needs to miss more than the minimum. The 23-year-old left-hander was very impressive during his first stint in the big leagues, posting a 3.27 ERA and 41/9 K/BB ratio in 33 innings across six starts. It might not be worth burning a roster spot for him in shallow leagues, but he's a logical pickup in deeper formats.  

Jayson Werth OF, Nationals (Yahoo: 49 percent owned)

Following a couple of stops and starts with a hamstring strain, Werth wrapped up a rehab assignment over the weekend and was activated from the disabled list Tuesday. I don't expect him to come close to hitting .300 again, but that's fine as long as he can show more power than he did last season. Now that he's a year removed from his wrist injury, that's probably not unreasonable. The 34-year-old outfielder also gets on base and is capable of stealing double-digit bases the rest of the way. He's someone who should be owned in nearly all formats.

Luke Gregerson RP, Padres (Yahoo: 40 percent owned)

Now that Huston Street is on the disabled list with a left calf strain, Padres manager Bud Black plans to go with Gregerson in the closer role. The 29-year-old right-hander gave up one run on three hits while notching his first save of the season on Sunday, but he still owns a solid 1.01 ERA, 0.68 WHIP and 20/6 K/BB ratio in 26 2/3 innings this season. You might remember that Street missed over a month last season with an injury to the very same calf, so it's possible that he won't be back in the minimum 15 days. Gregerson has long been one of the game's best set-up men, so he deserves to be owned in all formats.

Wil Myers OF, Rays (Yahoo: 28 percent owned)

The assumption has always been that Myers will be promoted to the majors around mid-June to ensure that he will not qualify for arbitration as a Super Two player down the road, but his early struggles this season led many to wonder if he would stick around with Triple-A Durham a little longer. We probably don't have to worry about that anymore. Myers has been on an absolute tear of late, hitting .362 (21-for-58) with six home runs, six doubles, one triple and 22 RBI over his last 13 games. He had just four home runs in 41 games prior to his current outburst. I'm a bit concerned about Myers' penchant for the strikeout, so don't look for him to be major asset right away, but his power potential makes him worth stashing.

Mike Leake SP, Reds (Yahoo: 39 percent owned)

It wasn't too long ago that Leake was at risk for losing his spot in the Reds' starting rotation, but that talk has died down in a hurry. The 25-year-old right-hander has a 1.91 ERA over his last nine starts and has allowed three earned runs or fewer in eight of them. He has been especially stingy recently, giving up just two runs (one earned) in 27 innings across his last four starts. Leake's secondary numbers aren't too far off from what we have seen in the past, but he's inducing more grounders these days and hasn't been nearly as homer-prone. While his matchup against the Cardinals on Friday at home is a tough one, Leake is someone who deserves more attention.

Ryan Doumit C/OF, Twins (Yahoo: 42 percent owned)

Doumit got off to a miserable start this season and found himself on the bench for a stretch when Oswaldo Arcia got his first taste of the majors, but he has really turned things around lately. After doubling on Wednesday night, the 32-year-old switch-hitter is now batting .302 (12-for-39) with four home runs, three doubles, one triple and 13 RBI over his last nine games. While his batting average still sits at .234 for the year, suddenly he's right on pace to equal the 18 homers and 75 RBI he managed last season. Doumit is a fine second catcher in mixed leagues and his added eligibility in the outfield adds to his appeal.

Chris Johnson 1B/3B, Braves (Yahoo: 31 percent owned)

The Braves designated Juan Francisco for assignment last week and ultimately lost him on waivers to the Brewers, which means that Johnson will serve as the everyday third baseman moving forward. It's worth noting that his .423 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is the highest among players with at least 150 plate appearances, so don't expect him to maintain that lofty .333 batting average for the long haul. Still, our own Eno Sarris noted back in March that opposite-field power hitters have a significant advantage in BABIP over pull hitters. So maybe it isn't completely crazy, even with his obvious flaws. Johnson doesn't have enough upside to be a starting option at third base or first base in standard mixed leagues, but you could do worse for a corner infielder (CI) spot.

Cameron Maybin OF, Padres (Yahoo: 13 percent owned)

After missing more than six weeks due to a nagging injury to his right wrist, Maybin is scheduled to come off the disabled list Thursday. The 26-year-old outfielder was hitting just .091 (3-for-33) in 10 games prior to shutting things down and has yet to have the breakout season we've been waiting for, but he stole 66 bases between 2011-2012 and has launched at least eight home runs per season dating back to 2010. He could be an excellent bargain off waivers if the wrist issue is truly behind him.

Mike Aviles SS/2B/3B, Indians (Yahoo: 10 percent owned)

Asdrubal Cabrera was placed on the disabled list earlier this week with a right quad strain and is expected to miss around 3-4 weeks, so Aviles will fill in as the Indians' regular shortstop for the time being. The 32-year-old is off to a solid start so far this season, hitting .281 with three home runs, 18 RBI and four stolen bases through 41 games. Aviles is a .277 career hitter and managed double-digits in home runs and stolen bases just last season, so it's not like he's doing anything out of the ordinary. With his multi-position eligibility, he could be a useful short-term piece in deeper leagues.  

Dan Straily SP, Athletics (Yahoo: 24 percent owned)

After scuffling to begin the season, Straily has allowed just one run in 19 innings across his last three starts. While his ERA still sits at 4.60 for the year, he owns an impressive 41/13 K/BB ratio over 45 innings. We're only talking about a handful of starts here, but only Anibal Sanchez and Yu Darvish have a higher swinging strike rate among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched. Pretty impressive company. Straily is still a fly ball pitcher, so I doubt he'll be able to maintain his current HR/FB ratio, but at least he'll make half of his starts in the spacious O.co Coliseum.

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

(Players owned in under 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues)

Peter Bourjos OF, Angels (Yahoo: 6 percent owned)

Bourjos missed all of May with a strained left hamstring, but he began a rehab assignment in recent days and should be activated from the disabled list next Monday if all goes well. The 26-year-old outfielder was off to a nice start prior to the injury and while he strikes out too much to maintain that .313 batting average for the entire season, he has enough speed and pop to make up for it. With his return just days away, this is a good time to stash him in a DL spot.

Mike Olt 1B, Rangers (Yahoo: 1 percent owned)

Mitch Moreland left Wednesday's game with hamstring tightness and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Thursday. It's possible that the Rangers would turn to a combination of Lance Berkman and Jeff Baker at first base if he requires a stint on the disabled list, but chances are they'll want some additional insurance from the minors. Olt is an interesting case, as he just recently returned to the lineup with Triple-A Round Rock after missing over a month due to vision problems, but he's on the 40-man roster and has previous experience in the majors. Chris McGuiness, the other likely candidate for a call-up, doesn't fall in either of those categories. Olt has plenty of ability if he's right, so he's worth a speculative stash in deeper formats.


UPDATE: So much for that. The Rangers placed Moreland on the disabled list and called up McGuiness. Still, Olt may get his chance soon if he continues to hit.


Ramon Hernandez C, Dodgers (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)

A.J. Ellis tried his best to tough it out, but he finally landed on the disabled list over the weekend with an oblique strain. This leaves Hernandez and Tim Federowicz splitting time behind the dish for Los Angeles. Hernandez began his Dodgers' career by going 1-for-22 over his first eight games, but he has three multi-hit games in his last five, including a pair of home runs. Perhaps the 37-year-old still has something left in the tank.  

Logan Schafer OF, Brewers (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)

Amid reports this week that MLB could seek a 100-game suspension for Ryan Braun, those in NL-only leagues would be smart to stash Schafer for a little while. The 26-year-old outfielder hasn't done much in sporadic playing time with the Brewers this season, but he had a .294/.354/.430 batting line in the minors and produced 11 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 124 games with Triple-A Nashville last season. A suspension for Braun is far from a given, but it never hurts to think ahead.


Sonny Gray SP, Athletics (Yahoo: N/A)

The Athletics don't have room for Gray in their rotation at the moment, but it might not be much longer before we see him in the majors. Selected 18th overall in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, the 23-year-old right-hander has an excellent 2.40 ERA and 65/20 K/BB ratio in 63 2/3 innings over 10 starts this season with Triple-A Sacramento. He averaged just 5.9 K/9 last season in Double-A, but it has increased to 9.2 K/9 this year. With a plus-curveball and a fastball that is capable of reaching the mid-to-high 90s, Gray has the potential to make a major impact when he gets the call. He'd be an obvious replacement if Bartolo Colon is required to serve another suspension for his alleged ties to Tony Bosch and Biogenesis.

Alex Liddi 1B/3B/OF, Mariners (Yahoo: 0 percent owned)

With Justin Smoak on the disabled list due to a strained oblique muscle and Michael Morse dealing with a quad injury, the Mariners called up Liddi last week to serve as insurance at first base. The 24-year-old Italy native owns a .219/.276/.388 batting line and a 68/12 K/BB ratio over 55 games in the majors and was striking out nearly a third of the time in the minors this season, so don't expect much here, but he qualifies at multiple positions and is capable of running into a few. That's enough to give him some short-term relevancy in AL-only leagues.

D.J. Short is a Rotoworld senior baseball writer and hosts the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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