Friday, June 17, 2011

Gearing Up: A.L. Week 12, June 20-26

Rising Up
Dustin Ackley (32% owned last week; 52% this week)
Some of you are probably here today solely to hear what I have to say about Ackley. He's one of those players who will probably be a very good all around baseball player but who won't excel at any one particular thing. He seems ready for the bigs, but the .303 batting average at Tacoma isn't going to translate to a .300 batting average in the Majors, at least not right away. Ackley's long-term ceiling is a 20/20 hitter who can hit .300. If he sticks at second base, that's going to make him plenty valuable. Of course, that could be generous and Ackley might wind up looking more like Orlando Hudson with the bat. Last week's ownership percentage tells me that he's already locked up in most A.L.-only leagues. This week's rising percentage tells me that he's getting grabbed in mixed now as well.

Remember Miller? The Tigers former first round pick looks like he's going to get the call and start for the Red Sox on Monday versus the Padres. This would make Miller a two-start pitcher for Week 12 if the Red Sox don't skip Miller's turn. Miller's numbers at AAA Pawtucket have been phenomenal, and while he seems like a mega flop, he's only 26 years old. The downside to Miller is that he's never been consistent in the Majors and his stuff was never as good as advertised. Miller's a worthy gamble in deep leagues; in mixed leagues you'll want to take a wait-and-see approach.

The drums are beating once again for Viciedo's call-up because Juan Pierre is slumping after a brief hot streak. Viciedo's still smoking the ball at AAA Charlotte, so I'm sure his owners are drooling over a possible 20-25 HR impact hitter in a hitters' park. He still swings at anything, so I wouldn't be surprised if he struggled somewhat the first time through the league. Monitor the situation. I keep thinking that Pierre is going to get designated, and the White Sox continue to trot him out there.

Jakubauskas is a nice story, but for Roto he's a fringy option who is questionable even for match-up play. He's likely to get the Reds next week so I'd stay far away.

With Miller's imminent promotion, Wakefield isn't long for the Red Sox rotation and should be dropped, not added. Wakefield's knuckler/longevity/the-Yankees-hate-facing-him narrative tends to overshadow the fact that he's never been more than a 4th/5th starter type for most of his career: useful but not extremely valuable. He's put up an ERA under 3.9 four times in his career, has a 4.38 lifetime ERA and a 4.72 lifetime FIP.

Back from the Minors/DL
Jim Leyland is easing Ordonez back into the Tigers line-up, but it's possible that Andy Dirks and Casper Wells will keep taking playing time from Ordonez if he doesn't produce. Don't assume that Ordonez is an everyday player until he produces.

Nishioka should play almost every day for the Twins and must be activated in A.L.-only leagues. It looks like the Twins are going to move Alexi Casilla to second and try Nishioka at SS. It remains to be seen how much Nishioka will run post-injury.

Darnell McDonald (quadriceps)
McDonald is back off the DL but not worth owning unless there is an injury in the Red Sox outfield.

John McDonald (hamstring)
McDonald is a utility type, but with Jayson Nix struggling McDonald could see some time at third base as a starter. He's still a marginal player in A.L.-only.

Possible Waiver Claims
Cabrera's numbers don't look too good, and if you take out his first 11 games you can really see how much of a liability he's been at second for the Indians (234/253/293; 4/25 BB/SO). The Indians called up Cord Phelps and Cabrera is now on the wrong side of a quasi-platoon. Maybe this will make O-Cab less of a BA drag, but I suspect the writing is on the wall and the Indians will cut bait at some point.

Dickerson hasn't played for the Yankees this week. With Jorge Posada seemingly starting to right the ship, Dickerson is mostly around for the fact that he can play all three outfield slots and is a decent pinch runner. He might be the least valuable player in your free agent pool right now who isn't a catcher.

Like Dickerson, McCoy hasn't played this week. McCoy must be looking at Jayson Nix's sub-200 average and wondering what he did wrong in a previous life.

Dotel and Wright are two closers-in-waiting who seem to have dropped in the pecking order. Brandon League has been solid after a shaky week, making Wright fungible for Roto owners, while Dotel hasn't been getting consecutive save opportunities for the Jays. Casey Janssen's trip to the D.L. might move Dotel up in the pecking order but then again it might not. Collins is more of a future play; that high walk rate and artificially low BABIP scream "stay away." Thompson is your typical, fungible middle reliever. He's owned in some deep A.L.-onlies and he's a free agent in others. He might or might not make an impact on your season depending on whether or not you grab him during an upswing or a downswing. There are about 20-30 relievers like this in your free agent pool just waiting to be added the next time you get sick of a starting pitcher who is absolutely shredding your ERA/WHIP.

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