Friday, May 27, 2011

Gearing Up A.L. Week 9: May 30 - June 5

Rising Up

Josh Outman (1% owned last week; 5% this week)
Remember Josh Outman? He was the Phillies prospect who was part of the package that netted the Phils Joe Blanton. Outman quickly rose through the ranks and put up some surprisingly strong numbers for the A's in 2009 that were fueled by an unsustainable BABIP. Outman lost 2010 to TJ but was back this spring and looked solid, leading to talk he might crack the A's rotation. He didn't, but injuries have opened the door for him now. He had a decent start Monday against the Angels and will probably stick in the rotation for a little while. The high walk rate at AAA this year makes me think that Outman's not quite all the way back, but at the very least he's a match-up play and at the most a #4 or #5 A.L.-only Roto starter. If the A's don't skip his turn next week, he's due to face the hot-hitting Red Sox at Fenway, so you might want to wait a week here.

Possible Waiver Claims
Amarista hasn't really done much to earn more playing time with the Angels, and for fantasy purposes probably isn't even worth it in A.L.-only. He is getting some time in in the outfield due to the Angels lack of depth, so he might wind up getting 8-10 AB a week while Howie Kendrick is out.

I've seen more than a few snide comments here and there about how Benoit was due to struggle this year thanks to the law of averages, but the real problem is a K/9 rate that has dropped from 11.19 to 7.13. It is true that Benoit was lucky last year, but he was also a better pitcher in 2010. The Tigers sat him for about a week in early May after he gave up 10 runs in 1 1/3 innings across three outings and since then Benoit has been better. More importantly, the Tigers gave him a chance to save a game on May 24, showing that he's probably once again the back up to Jose Valverde. He's probably worth it in A.L.-only, just don't expect anything close to 2010.

I panned Chatwood on May 16; he then did the exact opposite of what I thought he'd do: struggling against the A's but then doing well against the Braves. Keep the applause to a minimum, though; this was a Braves line-up with no Chipper Jones or Jason Heyward. He gets the Twins tonight and the Royals next week, so the schedule might be on Chatwood's side for now. I still see him as a risky play.

With Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner both on the DL, Kearns has picked up some AB this week. With Sizemore almost definitely coming back tonight, Kearns should lose some time. It's possible that Sizemore will DH until Hafner is ready, but even so Kearns has barely done anything this year with the time he's received.

LaRoche has been playing all week, but this is because Kevin Kouzmanoff is day-to-day with a groin injury. Kouz is supposed to be back tonight, so LaRoche should slot back into a utility role. Like Kearns, LaRoche just hasn't done much with the bat when he's played.

Adam Russell isn't worth owning. I write about him primarily because I'm fascinated by his inclusion on the Rays roster. He hasn't pitched since May 21 and before that hadn't pitched since May 15. The Rays are using him mostly against RHB even though Russell's 2008-2010 splits are pretty even in both directions. The Rays are carrying 12 pitchers, but given Russell's inactivity I can't see why.

In the Minors
A fast start, a .262 batting average, and 24 RBI mask the fact that Orlando Cabrera has been kind of bad for the Indians for most of the year. In Cabrera's last 31 games, he has a 250/273/302 slash line and a WPA of -0.543. I haven't heard any indications that the Indians are thinking about moving on, but if they did, Phelps would be a candidate for the 2B job, along with Jason Kipnis and Luis Valbuena. Phelps isn't the prospect that Kipnis is, but he has slightly outplayed Kipnis thus far at AAA. If Phelps does get called up, you'd probably be looking at a hitter who doesn't do any one thing well but can do everything - except run - above average. The ceiling here would probably be 10-15 HR power as a starter. It's also worth knowing that Phelps would be a better play in OBP leagues; he has been walking A LOT this year.

Cord Phelps is also an awesome, Max Power kind of name. In this crazy, topsy-turvy universe of ours, that should count for something.

I had no idea who this guy was until he was picked up in Tout Wars last week. At 29, Vazquez isn't a prospect, but the guy has done nothing but mash in the minors since the Yankees picked him up from the Mexican League in 2009. Admittedly, Vazquez is a one-dimensional hitter who doesn't walk and doesn't play good defense. However, Jorge Posada is struggling just a wee bit and the Yankees bench isn't exactly strong. Whether or not Vazquez deserves to be up is an open question, but what's important to us is that he could be up at some point this summer. Big time power 1B types don't grow on trees - or linger in A.L.-only free agent pools - so be aware of Vazquez and pounce if he is called up.

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