May 2010

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Scott Olsen Worth A Look

Scott Olsen was an interesting pick heading into 2007 fantasy drafts.  He was only 23, and was coming off a season in which he'd posted an 8.3 K/9.  Things went downhill from there, as his velocity started diving and he had labrum surgery in July of '09.

In 2010, Olsen has found his way back to fantasy relevancy.  Through six starts, his K/9 is back up to 7.6 per nine.  At 2.7 BB/9, he's flashing the best control of his career.  His 3.51 ERA is impressive considering he started the season with rough outings against tough offenses (the Phillies and Rockies).  Today in a post for The Hardball Times, Pat Andriola notes Olsen's increased slider usage.  At 26, Olsen is maturing as a pitcher.  It seems possible we could see a sub-4.00 ERA from here on out, plus a respectable amount of strikeouts.  Olsen has a signficant financial incentive to make as many starts as possible, as his contract pays $85K per.  You may want to skip his next start, as he's at Coors Field.  After that, though, he projects to face the Orioles, Giants, and Astros.

Olsen's not the only lefty waiver wire pickup with a quality K rate.  Ricky Romero, Tom Gorzelanny, Jon Niese, Jason Vargas, Clayton Richard, Brett Cecil, and Wade LeBlanc also fit the mold.


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Six for Saturday: Call-up Watch

There have been a number of top prospects recalled recently, including the Cubs' Starlin Castro. Today, we're going to take a look at six players that could help out the big league clubs sooner rather than later.

Wes Hodges | 1B/3B | Cleveland: The Indians' big league club is not getting much offense out of third base or first base right now, which could eventually necessitate a move or two. With the club in rebuilding mode, it could eventually choose to jettison a veteran or two, such as Russell Branyan or Travis Hafner, which would then make room for the hot-hitting Hodges. The corner infielder is currently hitting .336/.387/.505 in 107 at-bats. On the down side, he doesn't have the prototypical power that you look for at third or first base. Despite some past injury woes, the former second round draft pick still has a lot of potential.

Dayan Viciedo | 1B/3B | Chicago AL: Current third baseman Mark Teahen has a .695 OPS and the struggling club may be forced to try something else if he doesn't pick it up soon. Cuban signee Viciedo is currently hitting pretty well in triple-A. He has a triple-slash line of .284/.318/.490 with six homers in 102 at-bats. His rates at the plate are not overly impressive, though, as he has 24 strikeouts and just three walks. Viciedo is killing southpaws right now with a .429 batting average.

Jonathan Lucroy | C | Milwaukee: The 39-year-old Gregg Zaun won't catch forever, and current back-up George Kottaras is probably best-suited to a back-up role in the Majors. Lucroy has passed Angel Salome as the club's starting catcher of the future. Lucroy is hitting .271/.300/.396 in 12 triple-A games after starting out the season in double-A. Defensively, he's shown some promise with his arm, but his receiving skills and game calling still need work.

Jay Jackson | RHP | Chicago NL: The Cubs' starting pitching has been good this season, so there is no need to panic, but Jackson looks ready to fill-in when the opportunity presents itself. A former two-way player in college, he's quickly improved as a pitcher since focusing on the role. So far in triple-A in 2010, the right-hander has a 2.31 ERA in 35.0 innings. He's allowed just 22 hits and eight walks to go along with 22 strikeouts. If we're going to nitpick, it would be nice if he induced ground balls on a more regular basis (39.0 GB%).

Eduardo Sanchez | RHP | St. Louis: Ryan Franklin is doing a solid job as the club's big league closer, but he's 37 years old already. Waiting in the wings is Sanchez. The right-hander is just 21 years old and pitching well in double-A. He has the repertoire (power fastball and good slider) to dominate the late innings, and he's also produced an outstanding ground-ball rate so far this season. He's allowed just seven hits and four walks in 14.1 innings in 2010. The only real knock on Sanchez is his lack of size (5'11'').

Michael Kirkman | LHP | Texas: The starting pitching in Texas has been much improved this season, but there could still be a need for an added boost or two before the all-star break, either as an injury replacement (hello, Rich Harden) or to fill in for a disappointing starter like Matt Harrison. Derek Holland is certainly the first choice to be recalled, but don't ignore Kirkman, who is having an excellent season. The southpaw has a 1.82 ERA and has allowed just 23 hits in 34.2 innings of work. The 23-year-old pitcher also has 31 strikeouts. Like most young pitchers, he still needs to work on his control.


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Casey McGehee: Buy Or Sell?

Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee is off to a .299-5-19-12-0 start, after a strong 394 plate appearance rookie campaign in '09.  Should fantasy players buy or sell?  Members of our roundtable tackle the question, which is hosted by Marc Normandin of Baseball Prospectus.


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Monitor Javier Vazquez, Ben Sheets

I actually thought I got a mild steal when I drafted Javier Vazquez in the middle of the 9th round in the RotoAuthority League, right after Brett Anderson and Chad Billingsley went off the board.  Obviously I was wrong, as Vazquez has been all sorts of terrible through five starts for the Yankees.  Walks, hits, and home runs are way up; velocity is down 2.2 mph.  You can blame New York, but I'm not in Javy's head.  You can blame the AL East, but he's only faced one good offense.  I tend to lean toward early-season rust, mechanical issues, a potential injury, and a dash of Javy being Javy.  I'm not cutting him, but it is time to bench Vazquez.  He's being dropped in many leagues, and should be a person of interest for you.  He won't be the 3.70 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 15 win, 193 K guy I expected/wanted in March, but 75% of that would be well worth rostering.

Ben Sheets was an 18th round pick, so it's been easier for his owners to cut him loose after six starts.  His numbers are a total mess - uncharacteristic walks, no strikeouts, lots of home runs and hits.  His fastball is down 1.5 mph from his last season, 2008.  If anyone is allowed to be rusty, it's Sheets after missing all of '09.  Sheets recently told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle his problem is about location.  I'm curious to see if he rights the ship.  We could see the added bonus of Sheets being shipped to an NL contender if the A's fall out of contention in a few months.


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