Friday, July 29, 2011

Gearing Up A.L. Week 18: August 1-7

Rising Up

Alejandro de Aza (0% last week; 2% this week)
If there are a lot of trades this weekend, de Aza's the kind of player who could slip through the cracks in A.L.-only leagues...though the home run he hit yesterday certainly won't make that easy. de Aza's 27 years old and nowhere close to a top prospect, but he has some power, a good amount of speed, and might have an opportunity to snag at least some of the at bats away from Alex Rios in the White Sox outfield. He's worth a flier in the short-term if you're a man short.

Possible Waiver Claims
Miguel Olivo's health is no longer in question, so Bard slots back in as a clear #2 catcher. He's got a little pop but is in a bad park for that pop and probably won't play enough to generate any value.

When the Angels acquired Branyan, it sure seemed like he'd start stealing time away from Mark Trumbo and sapping into Trumbo's value. But it didn't work out that way. Trumbo has been great (from a fantasy perspective at least), while Branyan has two extra base hits in his 50 AB for the Angels. Branyan is pretty much worthless for Roto at this point.

When the Tigers acquired Wilson Betemit, Kelly was the big loser. Betemit has been getting most of the AB at 3B and Kelly's been riding the pine. Kelly's 624 OPS is uninspiring, and he should remain unowned in most formats.

Guys like LaPorta typically get dropped this time of year because a contending team has upgraded and there's no room at the inn. This is the case here, as the team that dumped LaPorta owns Adrian Gonzalez, Paul Konerko, and Mark Teixeira. LaPorta now has 900 Major League plate appearances and he's starting to look like a Lyle Overbay type: someone who might hold down a big league job for years but who is going to be at the bottom of the pack at his position. If LaPorta does hold down a job, he might hit 15-20 HR, so he's definitely worth owning, but if you're playing for this year there's a good possibility you've already upgraded and made LaPorta expendable...even in A.L. only.

The song remains the same with Molina. He's having a solid year in a very limited number of at bats, but J.P. Arencibia continues to mash behind the dish and hit just well enough that Molina isn't going to supplant him.

Young fits the same profile as LaPorta. He's fine to own if you have a dead spot, but if you're contending in July and have a dead spot you're probably in trouble. Young is even worse than LaPorta this year (his RC+ is tied for 4th among A.L. OF with 250+ plate appearances) and there are no signs that Young is suddenly going to pick it up. If there is a silver lining here, it's that Ben Revere has actually been worse and Jason Kubel might get traded. Young's playing time is probably safe.

Pauley and Sipp are both very useful Roto set-up men in A.L.-only and might even have a place in the table in very deep mixed leagues. I haven't heard that many Brandon League trade rumblings of late, but if League does get flipped Pauley could wind up closing in the short-term. Johnson could also be a candidate for saves if Kevin Gregg gets dealt, but the Orioles have also been talking about moving Johnson to the rotation. Coke looks like a mess and should be avoided in all formats. I dislike situations where a pitcher gets moved from one role to another mid-season.

Up from Minors/Off the DL
Guerrero has been poor this season, but he hit a home run last night so I'll assume he's healthy and safe to activate. He's a subpar option as a DH-only in A.L.-only.

Every year there is a lot of hand-wringing over Jon Lester and every year he puts up an ERA in the low 3s, strikes out close to a batter an inning, and puts up a WHIP between 1.2 and 1.25. Context is everything, though. Lester's 3.23 ERA is 16th in the American League this year; last year his 3.25 ERA was 9th. The same stats are producing less value due to the improved pitching across the board.

Jesse Litsch (minors)
It seemed possible that Litsch might start tomorrow against the Rangers but Brad Mills has been given the assignment. Litsch slots into long relief for now but could wind up with another crack at the rotation at some point this year. He's probably not worth stashing unless you have a super deep reserve list.

Teagarden is up to provide bench depth for the Rangers while Craig Gentry recovers from a concussion. Teagarden is a third catcher for Texas and won't play much at all.

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