Friday, May 20, 2011

Gearing Up: A.L. Week 8, May 23-29

Rising Up
Danny Duffy (6% owned last week; 27% this week)
I wrote about Duffy a mere two weeks ago in this space. While I didn't go so far as to predict that he'd definitely be up, I did point out that his AAA numbers were too good to ignore. Duffy struggled in his Major League debut, having trouble with the strike zone and looking pretty hittable for a guy who has such a high profile. The Royals haven't officially decided when Duffy's next start is - or if it will even be in the Majors. Nate Adcock is listed in the Royals rotation over at ESPN, not Duffy, so it's possible Duffy will have his turn skipped or even that he could be headed back to AAA. If he's still in your free agent pool Sunday night, grab him anyway and stash him if he gets sent down.

Eric Thames (1% owned last week; 4% this week)
Thames was tearing it up at AAA Las Vegas and the Blue Jays decided to give him a shot after they had seen enough of David Cooper. Thames is a big time masher, who probably has 30-35 HR potential long-term, but has to stay about as selective as he was in the minors in order to stick. At 24, he's not young for a prospect and he might not have an especially long window to impress before the Jays send him down. Thames is worth stashing even if he doesn't stick, but keep in mind that he might go back down shortly.

Back from the minors/DL
With Grady Sizemore on the DL, Buck figures to split AB in left field with Austin Kearns. This makes Buck worthy of a pick-up in A.L.-onlies, though neither his power nor his speed is significant assets.

The Mariners doctors and outside specialists finally found the right combination of meds for Gutierrez and he made it back to the M's earlier this week. They rested him last night - and he might not play every day at first - but Gutierrez should be put back into your line-up ASAP. He's high risk but probably better than whatever scrub you have been tossing out there in his stead.

Howell was activated today by the Rays and should slot nicely into the middle of their bullpen. He might have a chance to save games at some point if Kyle Farnsworth falters, but for now he should just be viewed as a middleman. I'd keep him reserved or on the free agent pool until he shows he's healthy and reliable for at least a week.

Possible Waiver Claims

A common question that deep league owners ask is, "If middle relievers produce such decent stats, why are their prices so low year after year in my auctions?" This list of pitchers offers a clue. These seven pitchers were all waived this week by their owners in my home league. With the exception of Chamberlain and possibly Rhodes, all of them were disappointments or at the very least forgettable. They might all be of use at some point this year, but you can also find OK middle relievers on the free agent pool all year long, and they shouldn't cost you more than $0 or $1 FAAB.

The Orioles haven't been able to utilize Fox's versatility very well, and as a result he has all of 42 AB this year. He does have a couple of home runs, so if you need a catcher in your league you could probably do worse than Fox. It doesn't seem like he's going to play much barring an injury, though.

Gentry was pressed into regular duty this week because Mitch Moreland is nursing a minor injury. It's nice to get regular AB, but Gentry hasn't been able to do much with them. Even in A.L.-only, it's hard to recommend what you're getting here.

Lillibridge has put up some nice numbers as a bench player, doubling his career HR total entering this year and stealing four bases. If Ozzie Guillen tires of Juan Pierre, Lillibridge could be a short-term beneficiary. Keep in mind that the positive contributions this year represent a very small sample size; expect some regression if Lillibridge plays every day. I'd recommend monitoring and not buying for now.

Nunez offers some nice speed off of the bench in A.L.-only; he has five steals in very limited playing time. He'd need a major injury to get significant AB, but if you're desperate for speed and have a weak or dead MI slot, there are worse plays you can make.

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