Friday, August 10, 2012

Gearing Up: August 13-19

Got the Call
I wrote Machado up yesterday/early this morning. The piece was more of a comparative review of what 19/20 year olds have done at AA since 2006, and only offered scant comment on what I think Machado might actually do in 2012. Despite tonight's 2 HR outburst, I still think there might be more downs than ups with Machado. His future potential is tantalizing, but he's a deep league play only. Check your league's eligibility rules. In most leagues, Machado is shortstop eligible based on where he played in the minors, but a small handful of leagues go by Major League position only, which would make Machado 3B only. Machado's somewhat more intriguing at SS than 3B in non-keeper formats.

Rising Up
Ezequiel Carrera (0% owned last week; 6% this week)
Travis Hafner's injury, Johnny Damon's release, and a depleted Indians bench have opened up regular playing time for Carrera and so far Carrera has completely taken advantage of the opportunity. He's a good add if you're looking for steals, but keep in mind that Carrera's not going to keep putting up a 533 BABIP. He is a good source of potential steals and did show somewhat better power at AAA this year. Carrera isn't a future superstar, but could be one of those gems in the rough that ultimately winds up playing his way into a starting gig. The steals and potential for regular playing time down the stretch make him worth monitoring even in mixed leagues.

Steve Johnson (0%/3%) vs BOS, @DET
Way back in 2009, Johnson was acquired by the Orioles along with Josh Bell for George Sherrill. Bell is long gone from Baltimore, but after a long trip through the minors Johnson has made it to The Show. Johnson doesn't throw hard but manages to generate a decent amount of strikeouts by changing speeds/mixing up his assortment of pitches well. Johnson does tend to struggle at every new level for a while, so despite the decent debut as a starter (he had one relief appearance) I'd still be wary of adding him unless you're solely gunning for wins. The command has also been an issue at times, so despite the fact that Johnson has a high K/9 rate so far I'd watch that BB/9 rate as well.

Rising Up
Jim Henderson (0% owned last week; 14% owned this week)
A week ago, Jim Henderson was a fringy middle reliever/minor league lifer that even N.L.-only owners were turning their noses up at. Today, he's the closer for the Milwaukee Brewers. Henderson has zero prospect pedigree, but then neither did John Axford a couple of years ago before he took the job and ran with it. Henderson has had an up-and-down minor league career, but was up this year, throws hard, and has been generating a high number of whiffs for the last two years. Everyone assumed that Henderson is just a fill-in closer, but there's no reason to think he won't hold down the job the rest of the year assuming he gets the job done. Closers are made, not born, and if Henderson performs I think he'll least in 2012.

Jean Segura (8%/16%)
I wrote Segura up fairly recently right after he was traded from the Angels to the Brewers as part of the Zack Greinke package, but my assumption then was that Segura would spend the rest of the year in the minors. The Brewers apparently didn't agree, so here he is, batting eighth and starting at shortstop for Milwaukee. I think long-term he'll be a solid player, but it seems to me like the Brewers are rushing him here. If he's starting, Segura has significant stolen base potential and should be scooped up if you need steals. Don't be surprised if he doesn't get the job done and winds up back in the minors.

Eric Stults (0%/4%)
I wrote about Stults in last Sunday's FAAB log. He did his part in his last home start against the Cubs; if you picked him up now you have to hope he does OK in a road start this weekend against the Pirates. Something interesting I noticed about Stults is that if he sticks in the Pads rotation and the rotation holds, the schedule after this weekend's start lines up as follows:


Six home starts and two starts in pitchers' parks in LA and San Fran make Stults a pretty interesting down the stretch play (with the usual caveat that rotations don't always hold). 

Erik Kratz (0%/4%)
Can Erik Kratz keep it up? Well, of course not, but there's nothing wrong with riding the hot hand. A career minor leaguer, Kratz is hardly a prospect at Age 32 and is merely a placeholder for the Phillies while Carlos Ruiz recovers from injury. This doesn't mean he's worthless. Kratz has always shown the ability to hit for power in the minors and there's no reason why he won't continue to show some pop in CBP. In NL-only he shouldn't be available, and even in deeper mixed leagues where you have to carry two catchers Kratz is worth a speculative grab.

Got the Call
A long-time favorite of fantasy players everywhere for his power/speed combination, the Cubs finally called up Jackson on August 5 and inserted him into the everyday line-up. So far, the only thing that has translated to the big leagues are Jackson' strikeouts. Jackson's 20/30 potential is definitely enticing, but in the very early going it appears that the naysayers are correct and that Jackson's not going to be able to succeed because his contact skills are so extremely poor. Jackson's tools certainly make him a worthwhile risk, but risk has become the operative word now. At this rate, this could be nothing but a play that kills your average and does nothing else.

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