Ryan Shealy $15. Other bid $4.
Just one short week ago, Trey Hillman was touting Kila Ka'aihue as a guy who'd get a lot of at bats the rest of the way at 1B. Now it's the 29-year-old Shealy who is getting a good chunk of playing time at 1B. It's obviously hard to predict who Hillman will play the rest of the way, but Shealy is what he always was: a good power bat who probably could pop anywhere from 15 to 25 HR given a clean major league shot, albeit with a subpar or maybe poor batting average. His four dingers this week sure got owners' attention, and I'm sure if you want him you'll have to look closely at the teams with FAAB/spots left in your league and bid accordingly. He might not even hit another four HR the rest of the way, but is certainly worth grabbing if you need a hitter.
Scott Lewis $10. Other bid $6.
Lewis threw up a gem against the Orioles this week, and has two starts coming up at home this week versus the Twins and the Tigers. He's a 24-year-old lefty who is a finesse pitcher who has had a long history of elbow problems. His stuff has always been rated positively, but be wary of pitchers with OK strikeout rates in the minors. Lewis could help you out down the stretch, or he could bomb. I guess you could say that about any pitcher, but Lewis' profile fits this description even more aptly.
Cliff Pennington $8. Other bids $6, $2.
Pennington definitely fits the A's old "Moneyball" draft-style approach: look at OPS over some of the more traditional scouting metrics and worry about the rest later. Pennington also symbolizes the problem with that approach. He's got a very good batting eye, but even for a middle infielder not enough extra-base power to be an every day player. The best bet long-term for this former first-rounder is probably going to be as a 2B/SS back-up. Right now, the A's are pushing him out there every day to see if he's a viable alternative to Bobby Crosby. He isn't. Thirty-three steals in the minors/majors combined and regular AB is enough reason to grab Pennington if you need a middle infielder, but don't expect much.
Justin Ruggiano $5.
Ruggiano's minor league power/speed hasn't translated to the majors yet in his limited AB, and it's doubtful that he'll get much of a chance to do more than fill in as a late inning replacement with the Rays fighting for the division. If you're looking for a future, I suppose he's worth a stab. He's a cheaper alternative to Eric Hinske, could put up comparable numbers if everything broke right, and the Rays are a progressive enough organization that they might give the 26-year-old OF a shot at that type of role next year.
Oscar Salazar $3.
Don't scan your prospect books for Salazar; he's a 30-year-old minor league journeyman who was actually playing in Venezuela in 2006-2007. He was a second baseman at one point but is now subbing for Melvin Mora at third. His numbers in the Orioles system have been very good the last two years, and his BB/SO have been solid, but Salazar is not a target for those playing for 2009. His three HR for the O's are why you'd target him, on the unlikely chance you'll catch lightning in a bottle and he hits another three in the last two weeks.
Bobby Wilson $2.
He's the Angels third-string catcher, and is only up for depth. He might play a little bit now that the Angels have clinched, but is a limited power/speed option who probably won't do enough for you to make him worth your time or your bid.
Mitch Talbot $2. John Sickels describes him as a potential innings eater, and I think that's a fairly accurate description of Talbot. He doesn't throw bullets, but he's a smart pitcher who knows how to use the stuff he has and probably could have a successful career as anything from a #3 major league starter to a middle relief guy. He's probably with the wrong organization to make it as a starter, and is definitely a little older than some of the highly touted kids ahead of him. Like David Price, Talbot will pitch in relief for the last two weeks and most likely see very limited action down the stretch. He's a next year play only.
George Kottaras $1.
There was always a lot of buzz surrounding Kottaras - first as a Padres prospect, then after he was traded to the Red Sox - but he's 25 years old and still hasn't delivered on that promise. The power was certainly there this year at AAA Pawtucket (22 HR), but a .243 average won't translate to The Show, even if Kottaras does walk occassionally. He could follow the Kelly Shoppach career path and wind up a back-up to Jason Varitek next year and find himself in a late bloomer starting role, but stories like Shoppach's aren't that common; it's more likely Kottaras is a career back-up down the road.
Hideki Matsui. Claimed by 11th, 7th and 3rd place teams.
Matsui was another victim of the first place team's salary cap issues, and one of the teams near the bottom decided it was worth taking a stab on him and seeing if he's worth $24 next year (for him or for a potential trade partner). I was at The Stadium on Saturday, and Godzilla looks like he's still playing hurt. I wouldn't be surprised if the Yanks shut him down after they're officially eliminated, making him a poor play for contenders. As a future, $24 probably is about right for him in leagues with moderate inflation; you have to write this year off to injuries and see what he looks like in Spring Training.
Gary Sheffield. Claimed by 8th, 7th, 6th, 3rd, and 2nd place teams.
Sheffield's waiver price is $13, so I'm more than a little surprised that more of the teams in the second division didn't put a claim in. The risks are obvious: he'll be 40 next year, he had an injury-prone year this year, and is at the age where he could disappear in a hurry. But he's signed by the Tigers through next year, and will probably DH somewhere even if the Tigers flip him. A healthy Sheffield might be a long shot, but is worth the gamble at this price.
Frank Catalanotto. Claimed by 7th place team.
Catalanotto was this team's booby prize for not getting Sheffield or Matsui. His waiver price is $3, and he is entirely a next year play; he hasn't played since September 6 and that's the only time he's played since August 24. The Rangers are wisely examining more exciting options like Nelson Cruz and Brandon Boggs in their outfield, and Cat probably won't play much more down the stretch. What little power he had disappeared this year, making Cat an unappealing option even when he was playing. The Rangers are on the hook again next year, and will likely be stuck with him as a 4th outfielder unless a very desperate contender comes a' callin'.
Ross Gload. Claimed by 6th place team.
Like Shealy, Gload is getting more AB than Ka'aihue right now. Unlike Shealy, Gload is a decent batting average guy who doesn't offer enough power for the position. He's a poor option, and I'd recommend just about any non-catcher in this post over Gload as an option down the stretch.