Friday, September 09, 2011

Gearing Up A.L. Week 24: September 13-19

Rising Up:
Bruce Chen (34% owned last week; 36% this week) vs. MIN, vs. CHW
Chen appeared to have a good month in August, but his 4.45 xFIP tells a different story, and he has now been pounded in two September starts. Chen is a borderline A.L.-only Roto starter, and a borderline match-up play. One positive at this stage of the season is that a veteran like Chen could be a better bet than a young pitcher. Batters are swinging at a lot of pitches, benefiting someone who stays in or around the zone like Chen. It feels more like the flip of a coin here than a certainty, though. The two starts are a plus, as most of the free agents out there are about as good as Chen or worse.

Waiver Wire
Blake Beavan vs. TEX
Beavan is a pitcher with completely underwhelming stuff. Even with the benefits of Safeco, the extremely low K/IP make Beavan a significant risk in any start, and the Mariners six-man rotation means that Beavan is currently projected to get the Rangers next week. Definite pass.

The only reason to run Burnett out there at this point is as a potential wins play, but Burnett has been so bad that he has only one win Post All-Star. If you're feeling lucky, I suppose you can play him in Safeco. I wouldn't.

The Royals have shut Duffy down for the season. If you're playing for next year, the (likely) $10 free agent salary probably means Duffy isn't a keeper for 2012.

Inge is swinging a hot bat this month, but barely starting. He needs to play every day to have any value.

Elliot Johnson
Remember when this guy was a 20 SB sleeper? Johnson didn't hit, so he didn't play, and to top it all off his speed isn't ready for MLB prime time (5 steals in 12 attempts).

Kotchman started out September in a slump but that can be forgiven. He has been a significant contributor all year, albeit mostly due to a strong batting average. If you're contending, Kotchman isn't your best player, but a more than useful component player who is (hopefully) pushing your team to a Roto title as your third corner. It's crazy given where Kotchman was in March, but at the waiver salary of $10 he's probably a keeper for 2012.

A couple of times this year it looked like Lackey might turn the corner. Instead, he has been one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball. Unlike, Burnett, Lackey has benefited from the strong offense behind him and has been racking up the wins (six Post All-Star). He might be worth picking up if wins are your primary concern.

Molina's overall numbers are OK for a #2 A.L.-only catcher, but a closer look reveals that he's been pretty streaky. Ride Molina during a good streak and reap the rewards. Ride him when he's cold and your average suffers. This is the way it goes with back-up catchers that don't have 8-10 HR potential. You've got to plug someone in there, but the results are often random due to small sample sizes.

Rick Porcello @CHW @ OAK
Porcello seems to have righted the ship after an awful three-start stretch in August. He's a strong wins play this week with two starts coming up, and has the added benefit of pitching in Oakland for his second start. The xFIP indicates someone who should be posting something closer to a 4.00 ERA even during that bad slump, and while Porcello's hittable nature makes him more prone to variability, he still should be a capable A.L.-only Roto starter. The only reason I wouldn't play him this week is if Ks were an important category for me.

The home runs (8) are nice from your second A.L.-only catcher, but the .173 batting average - even over a mere 197 AB - make Shoppach a marginal option at best. I suspect the Rays have reached this conclusion as well. In prior years, Shoppach was enough of a weapon against LHP that he was worth having around; this wasn't the case this year. Shoppach might have trouble finding a Major League job in 2012, though I suspect he ultimately will.

Up from the Minors/Off the DL
Josh Bell (minors)
Bell's prospect luster has faded and he's up mostly to provide depth for the Orioles. Chris Davis is the guy getting a look this month, not Bell, and barring injury Bell starts 2012 in Triple-A for the O's...assuming he's not with another organization.

David Cooper (minors)
Cooper's short-term value is predicated on Adam Lind's wrist. If Lind can't play, then Cooper will. Otherwise, Cooper is mostly going to pinch hit and start once or twice a week. Long term, I don't know if Cooper has a shot. He seemed to change his approach at AAA this year, exhibiting more patience but at the expense of power. I'm not sure if 8-10 HR from a first baseman will work in this day and age unless it comes with a .320 average and a lot of doubles. My guess is that Cooper becomes a Quad-A type, but weaker regulars have manned the position in the bigs.

Chris Davis (shoulder)
Davis looks like he's going to get a long look at third base (see Josh Bell). He's starting to seem like a long shot to pan out. While I'm not one of those who believe that strikeouts are bad, whiffing close to 200 times while only putting up 15-20 HR power isn't going to cut it in the Majors. My crystal ball sees a lot of Triple-A in Davis' future.

Kyle Drabek (minors)
Drabek is a mess right now. He's having mechanical issues that the Jays sent him to the minors to work on, and while I've heard that things are improving, the results aren't speaking to that. Drabek might get a start or two for the Jays this month, but he's not worth considering. If you are rebuilding, I'd leave him in the free agent pool if his waiver salary were $10.... that’s too high for a "project" pitcher.

Jason Kipnis (hamstring)
If the Indians were closer to the Tigers, they might be pushing Kipnis harder to play everyday. Given their current status, they'll probably ease Kipnis back into the line-up. The power has been more impressive than expected, but has come with a lot of whiffs. I'm wondering if this means Kipnis will struggle through extended exposure to big league pitching. He's a no-brainer as a 2012 keeper. If a contender decides he can't risk the playing time, grab him if you're playing for next year.

Saunders' 864 OPS at AAA is extremely unimpressive given the PCL context. I do like the 415 OBP and the stolen bases, but I'm not sure that's going to be enough for the Mariners to give him another look in 2012. Saunders might get a little playing time now and again down the stretch, but I think his best case for next year is as a back up.

Luis Valbuena (minors)
Valbuena will get a start now and again, but he mostly figures to be buried on the bench for the Tribe. His future is starting to look like infield back up or depth at AAA in case of emergency, not Major League starter.

Danny Worth (minors)
In Roto, you're scraping up the resin from the bottom of the barrel if you're considering Worth. His utility as a Major League player resides in his, um, utility: he can play several positions capably in a pinch. His future might be on a National League bench someday. He's Roto irrelevant.

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