Friday, August 12, 2011

Gearing Up A.L. Week 20: August 15-21

I'm trying something a little different this week and adding projected match-ups for the following week for pitchers. Keep in mind that it's Friday morning and that rotations are always subject to change for about a million reasons (rainouts, manager decision, injury, etc.)

Rising Up
Rich Harden (50% owned last week; 53% this week) vs. TOR
Harden has had his bad moments, but he's put up five quality starts in seven tries with a lot of strikeouts. You know the drill with Harden. He's a health risk but he can really give your team a shot in the arm if this is one of those odd years he stays healthy.

Tim Wakefield (8/15) @KC
Wakefield seems to have survived Andrew Miller and continues to chug along at the back of the Red Sox rotation. He's a match-up/wins play at this point.

Henderson Alvarez (1/9) @SEA, @OAK
Garrett Richards (1/8), vs. TEX, vs. BAL

I'm lumping Alvarez and Richards together because Baseball Prospectus has thrown them both into the "good stuff, iffy results" category. Alvarez is a ground ball pitcher who throws strikes and a sinking mid-90s fastball. His complimentary stuff isn't great, and some say he's just a two-pitch pitcher at this point. The match-ups make him an intriguing play this week, though keep in mind this is the second time the A's will have seen Alvarez. Like Alvarez, Richards' has a plus fastball and some secondary pitches that are works in progress. However, Richards has shown improvement this year in that department according to John Sickels and the numbers at AA Arkansas were simply lights out. Richards probably profiles long term as anything from a #3 starter to a #5 starter. His match-ups don't look quite as good as Alvarez's this week.

Charlie Furbush (5/8) @TB
Furbush has made things nice and easy for us and behaved like a match-up pitcher should. He was aces against the A's and bombed against the Rangers. He's at the Rays this coming week and is a questionable play.

Brad Mills (3/7)  @SEA, @OAK
Mills gets the same favorable match-ups that Alvarez does next week but his performance today makes me suspect that Mills should be avoided.

Possible Waiver Claims
I wrote about Aviles in early July. Since then he has been traded to Boston. He slots in as a utility guy for the Red Sox and is a marginal addition in this role.

The Royals called up Johnny Giavotella to play every day, not to split playing time with Getz. Getz will probably start 1-2 days a week but I suspect his playing time will diminish if Giavotella flourishes. He needs to be a running fool to be worth your time in A.L.-only, and the 19-for-26 in SB doesn't make it absolute that he'll get the green light every time he's on first.

I advised giving up on Pierre way back in late May. He hasn't quite made me eat my words, but he has hit over .300 in July with an OBP over .340 and has been somewhat productive on the base paths. Pierre is going to disappoint owners who paid in the mid $20s or higher for him, but by no means is he a complete zero out there, particularly if he's playing every day. You could most certainly do worse.

It looks like Posada's days as a starter with the Yankees are over. Joe Girardi told Posada that he wouldn’t be starting against right-handed pitchers, which essentially means that Posada won't be starting at all. It sounds like the Yankees won't cut him, but then I'm not sure what Posada will be doing unless you count "monitoring the bat rack" as a productive baseball activity. The real problem for Posada (and the Yankees) was that the power completely dried up in July. Without that power, Posada is a singles hitter without enough average to make him viable. He's borderline right now at catcher even in A.L.-only.

Unlike Posada, Thome's a very productive DH. The big problem with Thome has been staying on the field this season, but now he's back and getting a good chunk of AB. If Thome stays healthy, he should play every day. The DH-only status means that he might or might not fit on your team, but he's almost definitely an upgrade for teams that aren't locked in with a true DH.

I warned against Coleman last month, but he continues to thrive in a middle relief role for the Royals. He's making a living off of his slider, and while I still don't think it can last, you get to a point where you just have to enjoy the ride. Takahashi continues to have a solid year out of the Halos pen. There was talk that he would take Joel Pineiro's place in the rotation, but Richards' call-up makes this a slim possibility. Feel free to pick Takahashi up if you were holding out because you were worried he might move to the rotation.

Back from the DL/Minors
Reid Brignac (minors)
Once the Rays starting shortstop, Brignac is up simply to provide infield depth this time around. He isn't worth starting in Roto.

Craig Gentry (concussion)
Gentry returns to what has clearly become a fifth outfielder role with the Rangers. He shouldn't be carried even on a deep league roster.

Jed Lowrie (shoulder)
Lowrie will eventually start getting most of the at bats at shortstop for the Red Sox, but Marco Scutaro is white hot right now so Lowrie is going to get eased into the line-up by Terry Francona. Lowrie certainly is still an intriguing prospect due to his ceiling, but 2011 could become one of those lost seasons for Lowrie.

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