May 2012

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This Week In Streaming Strategy

"When I want more...RBIs

When I don't want...my WHIP too high

Whenever I want points, all I want have to do,

Is strea-ea-ea-ea-eam....stream, stream, stream"

Okay, the search for a new column theme song will have to wait.  In the meantime, let's just stick to this week's best and worst streaming options.

* Hiroki Kuroda.  It's safe to say that Kuroda hasn't lived up to expectations in New York, as he has a 4.50 ERA (5.28 FIP, 4.21 xFIP) through eight starts as a Yankee and is on pace to put up career worsts in ERA, K/BB rate, HR/9 and basically every statistical category you can name.  And yet, despite all this, I'm endorsing Kuroda as a good two-start candidate for the upcoming week. Kuroda's problems have largely taken place away from Yankee Stadium --- he has a 3.08 ERA in four home starts, as opposed to a ghastly 6.23 ERA in four road outings. Being back home against a middle-of-the-pack Royals lineup should help Kuroda, though he lasted just 4 1/3 innings in a start in Kansas City on May 5. Kuroda's second start this week is a road outing, but it's in pitcher-friendly Oakland against the woeful A's lineup.  If Kuroda can't get through the A's next weekend, I'd suggest confining him to Yankee Stadium starts unless he gets on track.  Still, the potential is there for Kuroda to have a bounce-back week, so if another frustrated manager dropped the righty after his rough outing in Toronto on Wednesday, Kuroda is worth a pickup.

* Bud Norris. Essentially, what Tom Warman said. Norris has been lights-out over his last four starts (a 4-0 record, a 1.40 ERA, a 4.00 K/BB rate and 28 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings) and this week has a home start against the Cubs and a road start in Los Angeles against the Matt Kemp-less Dodgers.  Norris is only owned in 52% of Yahoo leagues, which I can only chalk up to the semi-anonymity of pitching for a bad Astros team.

* Matt Adams. The ongoing Cardinals/Dodgers series matches two of the most injury-plagued teams in baseball, and it may have claimed another DL patron when Lance Berkman had to be helped off the field on Saturday with a knee injury. Berkman's status is up in the air, but if he does indeed have to go on the disabled list again, the Cardinals may forego their usual platoons and instead just call up Adams.  The 23-year-old was taken in the 23rd round of the 2009 draft and has done nothing but slug ever since, posting a career .318/.366/.557 line during his rise through every level of the minors.  Adams currently has a .970 OPS this season for Triple-A Memphis. If Adams does get the call, he would be in position to contribute immediately since he's a left-handed batter and St. Louis faces righties in five of seven games this week. Keep a close watch on Berkman's situation and jump on Adams if the Cards are compelled to make a move.

* Dan Uggla. You might think it crazy to sit a middle-infield power threat like Uggla, especially when he's set for four games at the launch pad known as the Great American Ballpark, where he has a career 1.010 OPS in 85 plate appearances. However, I'm exercising some caution with Uggla this week, given that the Braves are scheduled to face right-handed starters in five of seven games.  Uggla has been a reverse-splits guy throughout his career (an .835 OPS vs. righties, .786 vs. lefties) but this season has more normal numbers for a right-handed hitter -- Uggla has torched southpaws to the tune of a .974 OPS and managed just a .686 OPS against righties. Am I overreacting to this small sample size?  Very possibly, but I'd recommend starting another second baseman ahead of Uggla during at least a couple of those games against right-handers.  And now, just after I tell you to watch out for Uggla against righties, I'll tell you to start him against, of all people, Stephen Strasburg on the weekend, as Uggla has shown some early mastery of the Nationals ace (5-for-6 with a walk in seven PAs). The "sit Uggla" item is the official Mark's Public Apology choice of the week, as if Uggla has a big series in Cincinnati, I promise to rebuke my bad advice in next week's column. Stay tuned!

* Russell Martin. Catcher is such a thin position that you hate to outright give up on a backstop since the pickings are very slim on the waiver wire. That said, Martin's early-season struggles are becoming too hard to ignore. The Canadian entered Saturday's action hitting just .167/.322/.292 for the season. These ugly numbers include a .511 OPS against right-handed pitching, and with the Yankees scheduled to face righties in five of six games this week, this is a good time to put Martin on the bench and start using your backup or start exploring trade options.

* Colby Rasmus, Eric Thames. With John Farrell wanting to get Rajai Davis some more playing time, even against right-handed pitching, Rasmus and Thames' status as borderline fantasy roster candidates drops even further. The two left-handed bats weren't putting up good numbers but at least were plays against righty starters; if Davis is now encroaching on that time, Rasmus and Thames can't be counted on for much of anything fantasy-wise. You'll notice that I'm not adding a "pick up Davis" tidbit since, while he's a cheap source of steals and has been hot lately, Davis hasn't shown consistent hitting form since 2009. Given Davis' career OPS of .666 (talk about a bad omen) against righties, I'd guess Farrell's experiment might not last long and Davis will return to his usual role of spelling Rasmus or Thames when the Blue Jays face a southpaw. 


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RotoAuthority Live Chat

Click below to read a transcript of this week's live chat with Steve Adams:



Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

In last week's Stock Watch I recommended selling Brett Myers and Rafael Dolis, and both had rough outings this week. But, they are not in immediate danger of losing their closer roles and remain sell-high candidates since Myers still is sporting an excellent stat line and Dolis' leash as closer was extended by Carlos Marmol's trip to the DL.

Buy

  • Alfonso Soriano - Dropped in many leagues after his slow start, Soriano has been heating up at the plate with home runs in two of his last three games. Eighty-degree weather is expected at Wrigley Field all weekend, and Soriano's bat should heat up along with it. Soriano will also be helped by Summer's shifting winds, which tend to blow out more frequently at Wrigley Field. Expect Soriano's dismal 5.7% HR/FB to creep up closer to the 14% he averaged last year as the season continues. Soriano is a good source of power that is available on many waiver wires.
  • Todd Frazier - Hit two HRs on Wednesday and is playing every day for the Reds while Scott Rolen is on the DL. Frazier had 15 HRs and 17 SBs in 359 Triple-A plate appearances last season. Frazier hits in a favorable home ballpark and could provide a nice power/speed combination until Rolen returns.
  • Bud Norris - Pitching for the Astros, Norris does not get the attention he deserves given his 8.94 K/9 rate and 3.58 ERA that is supported by a 3.34 SIERA and 3.61 FIP. Norris has also picked up four wins for the lowly Astros, and is a nice back-of-the-rotation source of strikeouts in 12-team mixed leagues. Norris' swinging strike percentage (11.7%) is the highest of his career. In the RotoAuthority League, I made the mistake of dropping Norris in mid-April after he went through a rough patch of starts. In Norris' last three starts, he has given up one earned run in 19 innings.
  • Andy Dirks - Hitting second for the powerful Tigers lineup, and hitting .429 with 7 RBIs and 11 runs in May.
  • Everth Cabrera - Recalled by the Padres to play SS, Cabrera had 15 SBs in Triple-A this season and could be a cheap source of speed from the waiver wire if he can get himself closer to the top of the Padres lineup from the seventh slot he occupied last night.

Sell

  • John Danks - Feel free to drop Danks in 12-team mixed leagues, as his ugly 6.46 ERA is consistent with his poor performance this season. Danks' walks per nine innings (4.18) are up since last year and his strikeouts per nine innings (4.94) are way down. This tandem has resulted in a 5.15 SIERA. Danks' swinging strike percentage (7.2%) is also the lowest of his career.
  • Ricky Romero - Following a season with a 2.92 ERA, Romero's ADP was 101.3 as he was the 25th highest drafted starter. Romero has not lived up to this lofty ranking with a 3.88 ERA and only 36 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings. Yet, Romero's stats could be much worse as his walk rate is up compared to last season while his strikeout rate is down. Romero is sporting a 4.52 SIERA and a 4.60 FIP.
  • Omar Infante - When Infante burst out of the gate with five early HRs, it was difficult to sell him since owners were leery of his production continuing. But, Infante has continued to rack up stats as he is hitting .325 with 6 HRs and 4 SBs. Owners may be able to obtain more in trade for Infante now as his production has continued far enough into the season to be taken seriously. Infante's power is a mirage as his 12.5% HR/FB rate is more than double his career average, and his home ballpark will not do him any favors. Infante will steal a few more bags with Ozzie Guillen running the Marlins crazy, but he has already matched his 2011 SB total and the last time he stole double digit bases was 2004.
  • Rafael Furcal - Enjoying a monster season with a .367/2/17/28/7 slash line, Furcal's numbers are inflated by a .400 BABIP and fast start from the middle of the Cardinals lineup consistently knocking him in. Furcal has shown better plate discipline and increased his contact rate this season compared to 2011, but owners deep at MI should consider seeing what they can get for Furcal before a BABIP correction deflates his numbers and injuries take a toll on his older body. Furcal's plate appearances the past two seasons were 369 in 2011 and 428 in 2010.


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Stealing Steals With Xavier Avery

The Orioles are one of the biggest surprises in baseball this season, sitting atop the AL East with a 24-14 record and a +16 run differential. Most of that success stems from a pitching staff that owns the second best ERA in the American League (3.42), but they've also received larger than expectated offensive contributions from players like Adam Jones (12 HR), Matt Wieters (.851 OPS), and Nolan Reimold (.960 OPS). Reimold has been on the disabled list for the last two weeks though, and he recently told Peter Schmuck and Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun that he's made very little progress coming back from a neck problem.

“It's frustrating,” said Reimold, who is on anti-inflammatories and recently received an epidural that may be the first in a series of three injections. “I don't know if I'll have a little improvement every day or wake up one day and have it be gone.”

Reimold was eligible to come off the 15-day DL yesterday but that obviously didn't happen. Sometime in June is a more likely target according to Schmuck and Connolly, creating an opening in the outfield. Players like Endy Chavez, Wilson Betemit, and Bill Hall have gotten reps in left field during Reimold's absence, but the recently recalled Xavier Avery has settled into the job of late. The 2008 second round pick was called up over the weekend and has five hits and a walk in 20 plate appearances so far (four games), but his fantasy value lies not in his bat, but his legs.

Baseball America ranked the 22-year-old Avery as Baltimore's ninth prospect before the season, saying he's "an above-average runner" who "has improved his bunting to make better use of his speed" in their subscriber-only scouting report. He has yet to swipe a bag as a big leaguer, but he did steal eight (in eight attempts) in 33 games at Triple-A before being recalled. Avery has stolen at least 30 bases in each of the last three seasons in the minors, including 36 and 38 steals in the last two seasons. It is worth noting that he's not the most efficient base-stealer, with a 75.3% success rate that is above the break-even point (68-70% these days) but on the low side for most true speed threats.

Buck Showalter seems committed to playing Avery early on, even starting the left-handed hitter against CC Sabathia earlier this week. With Reimold out for another few weeks, Avery's spot in the lineup seems secure for the time being and should allow him to provide fantasy value as a temporary but cheap source of stolen bases. A 30-steal pace works out to something like three steals for every two weeks for most everyday players, so another month on the shelf for Reimold could mean another 6-8 steals for your fantasy club. Don't expect many homers or a great batting average, Avery figures to be a one-category contributor for the next few weeks. Keep his relatively low stolen base success rate in mind if you place in a net steals league.



Caffeine Lust and Laser Cardinals

I love to drink coffee. I brew it strong, to be espresso-like, to bite the gums as it excites the nervous system. This past Sunday, rising early to the laser song of cardinals (Pew! Pew!), I brewed a ferocious pot, and, as others slept, I sipped. After one cup came the second, and, giddy with my concoction, I poured a third. My eyelids twitched; I was brilliant. 

To what ends would I commit this newfound brilliance? To the waiver wire, of course! And oh my, were the moves I made melliferous.

8:33 AM: Drop Logan Ondrusek, RP, add Brian Fuentes, RP

8:58 AM: Drop Jed Lowrie, 3B/SS, add Danny Espinosa, 2B

8:58 AM: Drop Tony Campana, OF, add Jose Tabata, OF

9:00 AM: Drop Jason Bay, OF (DL)

9:00 AM: Add Brett Anderson, SP (DL)

9:09 AM: Drop Danny Espinosa, 2B, add Andy Dirks, OF

I made the sixth move as the fourth cup of coffee touched my lips and another North Carolina cardinal fired a laser from its wooded perch. Pew! At first glance, these moves do not appear particularly objectionable, but my team severely lacks speed, and the Campana drop was a careless caffeine-induced spaz. What of yesterday morning's FAAB acquisition, then? None other than Campana, for $17, dropping Andy Dirks. The next closest bid? $2, from Mr. Dierkes. That, my fair readers, is called being "On Tilt."

As for Campana, there is no reason he won't keep getting all of the at-bats against right-handed pitching, and continue to steal bases with abandon. Campana has managed a 73.3% ground ball rate, legging out hits left and right. His infield hit percentage of 15.4% is sustainable for a player of his speed. Also, while Campana will lose at-bats to left-handed pitching, he often will be called upon to pinch-run (and potentially attempt a steal) in the games he does not start.  

Jose Tabata has two triples, a double, and a home run in his last four games, and given last March's outburst, I'm tempted by Tabata. It hasn't been pretty so far for Jose, though, with a 10.7% SwStr percentage and only four stolen bases in eight attempts. Acquire at your own risk.

Danny Espinosa has heated up, too, and increased his walk percentage, up to 11.1% from 2011's 8.7%. Espinosa's strikeout percentage has risen as well, however (29.9%), and there is no evidence that Espinosa will be anything different than he was last year. If you can withstand the batting average violence, however, by all means. 

Andy Dirks is being added widely, and with good reason. Jim Leyland likes him as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, and now that the Tigers are beginning to rake again, the runs will come in bunches for Dirks. Dirks should be treated as Brennan Boesch was before the season began, with a little less pop and a little more speed. If you are lacking in runs, add. 

Exercise patience, fair readers. Don't go on tilt, no matter how much the caffeine is telling you otherwise. 

 

 

 

 




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Closers: Blue Jays, Yankees, A's, Mets

My agent's on the line, and he wants to know why I'm being shuttled between the bullpen and rotation like a 30-year-old journeyman junkballer. If you have any tips for the crimes being committed against my arm, please ping us on Twitter at @closernews, where you'll find all the latest breaking news on stoppers.

Blue Jays
After defying sketchy peripherals throughout most of 2011, things have finally caught up to Francisco Cordero. The 37-year-old struggled badly in a three-week stint as Sergio Santos' replacement before manager John Farrell had finally seen enough and replaced him with old friend Casey Janssen last week.

Janssen has quietly come into his own over the past two seasons (3.18, 2.74 SIERAs) and seems to have turned a corner from some early-career setbacks that included Tommy John surgery in 2008. He's carried that into 2012 (the 4.38 ERA is very misleading) and cleanly converted his first two save chances as the Jays' second interim closer. I expect him to do well so long as he's in the role.

However, Santos may only be about 10 days away from beginning a minor league rehab stint, so Janssen's trial run is looking relatively short-lived. Santos could be back by the end of the month, at which point I fully expect him to be reinstalled as closer. His return is far from a given, as shoulder injuries can be tricky, and if he does return on time he may need an outing or two in non-save situations in order to reacclimate, so Janssen is a worthwhile own until he's been entirely displaced.

Yankees
David Robertson didn't fare well in his first two save chances last week, including a meltdown vs. the Rays. Sure enough, the Yanks' next save opp arrived the following night. It went to Rafael Soriano, as D-Rob was apparently unavailable after throwing too many pitches (although I'm sure he was nursing his bruised psyche, as well). Raf-Sor nabbed the Yanks' next save chance -- last night -- so it looks pretty clear that he has taken over for Mariano Rivera in something of a minor upset.

To boot, following last night's game Joe Girardi announced that Robertson has been dealing with a ribcage injury and is slated for some tests. I'm not crazy about cutting Robertson right now, because I think he could still factor into the saves mix, but it's getting tougher to make the argument, so cut away if you must.

Athletics
Grant Balfour got off to a fast start as Oakland's closer, but things have fallen apart the past couple weeks, to the extent that the A's were desperate enough to revert back to Brian Fuentes.

Oakland's decision to bail on Balfour is not without its merits; the right-hander's 6.88 K/9 is well off his 9.77 career rate, and there's not enough daylight between it and the 3.71 BB/9 for him to be effective. As for whether Fuentes was the appropriate replacement is dubious, at least based on past performance. While his tidy walk rate (1.29 BB/9) is especially sharp, we can't count on that lasting (3.69 BB/9 career), unless Fuentes has suddenly changed his steez at age 36.

With Balfour and Fuentes both looking like underwhelming options (not to mention trade candidates), the buzz is that right-hander Ryan Cook is on-deck. Cook, 25 next month, is drawing some buzz for his 0.00 ERA through 15 appearances, but that is surely a product of some very good fortune, as his strikeout-to-walk ratio sits at a ho-hum 2.0. A promotion for Cook may seem inevitable now, but his average-ish peripheral profile leads me to wonder whether he can perform well enough to hold onto the job. I think he's AL-only material right now.

Mets
Frank Francisco's ERA sat at 8.56 after a meltdown on Sunday, so Mets manager Terry Collins hinted the time might finally have arrived to go with the good ole eight-man committee. It proved only to be an empty threat, though, as Francisco got the call on Monday night and converted for a very shaky save. FF is no stud, but his 3.76 SIERA hints that better days are probably ahead. We'll have to see how long the Mets show patience with him, though with a so-so bunch of alternatives in Jon Rauch, Bobby Parnell and Ramon Ramirez, I don't think they're especially motivated to move.

If you're digging deep on a spec add, Parnell is probably the way to go, as he's shown some improvement so far this season and is the nearest thing the Mets have to a prototypical closer after Francisco.

Quick-ish Hits
Apparently motivated by my cavalier dismissal last week, Dale Thayer has converted each of his three save opportunities for the Padres in Huston Street's absence. Thayer is 31 and has logged only 66 career big league innings to date, so he more closely resembles a journeyman mop-up type than a prototypical closer, but  he'll see the saves till Street returns, which could be somewhere around May 20-25, barring complications. ... Chris Sale went from starter to closer to starter for the White Sox last week, leaving the Pale Hose to deploy a supposed three-man closer committee of Addison Reed, Matt Thornton and Hector Santiago. Reed imploded in a non-save situation over the weekend and was then brought back for a save opp on Monday, which he converted but not without trouble. This might only get uglier, if that's possible. ... Scott Downs has returned from a bruised knee and appears to have the trust of Halos skipper Mike Scioscia. He should see the next few save opps, at least.


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Silver League Update: Trading Up

Looking at the week's transaction list, you'd think May 9 was the Silver League's trading deadline. One busy team pulled off three deals at once, swapping 16 different players -- two of them twice. It was certainly bold, and maybe desperate, but for a McRuder team mired in last place (and far from 11th, sad to say) bold and desperate are totally called for. There's no way to know yet if these moves will turn out to be good ones for McRuder, but we'll take a look and see how these moves might turn a profit, and how moves like them might help your fantasy team, wherever you are in the standings.

Trade 1: McRuder and Spirit of St. Louis, May 8 11:24am

Spirit gets: Carlos Gonzalez OF and Andrew Cashner RP

McRuder gets: Matt Cain SP, Johan Santana SP, Bryce Harper OF, Chase Utley 2B/DL, and Rafael Soriano RP

Normally, I think the rule of whoever gets the top player in the deal should be considered the winner, but this time, I'm actually pretty impressed by the collection of players McRuder got for CarGo. Between Street (supposedly) returning soon and the fact that McRuder already has David Robertson, I'd say Cashner and Soriano at least even out, leaving Cain, Santana, Harper, and Utley as the return for a true early-second-round pick. If Cain isn't quite to rotation-anchor status, he's close, and Santana is striking out over a batter per inning in his comeback season. Harper and Utley, I'm not so sure about, but they're exactly the sort of players that a last-place team should take chances on ... and a first-division team like Spirit of St. Louis should leverage for steadier production.

I like this one for both teams, but I really appreciate the way this trade improves a lot of places by moving (essentially) one player.

Trade 2: McRuder and Busey's Bandits, May 8 11:50am 

Busey's gets: Billy Butler 1B, Joel Hanrahan RP, Jon Lester SP

McRuder gets: Joey Votto 1B, Allen Craig 1B/2B/OF, Jeremy Hellickson SP

Here, McRuder get's a bona fide stud in Votto, and trading for a scuffling superstar is almost never a bad idea (except for any time you traded for Hanley Ramirez last year). Craig isn't young, but he's off to a good start and had decent pop in 200 ABs last year and in the minors before that; he's a decent risk to take. Hellickson has me wondering when he'll officially be considered a failed prospect. I know his surface stats were good last year and have been so far this year, but his K/9 rate of about 6.1 isn't going to let him keep it up.

For this group, he gave up Butler -- who's 1B/CI eligible in this league, unlike many -- Lester, and Hanrahan. Butler's better in real life than fantasy, thanks to all those doubles, but he's still a pretty solid member of the "good non-stars" tier of first basemen. Lester hasn't been very consistent, but he hasn't been so bad that it looks like he's turned a negative corner; this seems like a low place to sell him. Hanrahan's easier to sell once you have Robertson and Soriano, but they're still just one closer in two roster spots. I like the variance this one adds, but I feel like the price was a little too high.

Trade 3: McRuder and JamesRiverTrophyCarp, May 9 5:48am

TrophyCarp gets: Santana SP, Hellickson SP

McRuder gets: Zack Cozart SS, Stephen Strasburg SP

This trade, I love for McRuder. I also love that it's relatively simple to evaluate. I've already admitted pessimism about Hellickson; I wouldn't pick him up off the waiver wire. I do believe in the Santana comeback machine, but Strasburg is still a significant upgrade: he's got a K/9 over 10.0, to got with an ERA under 2.00 and a WHIP under 1.00. The impressive thing isn't so much those numbers, it's that he's so good that they can't be a surprise to anybody. I know he'll be limited in innings, but they should be very, very good. Cozart isn't exactly a necessity, but he's certainly a useful part.

How do they all stack up?

McRuder added:

Votto 1B
Utley 2B/DL
Craig 1B/2B/OF
Cozart SS
Harper OF
Strasburg SP
Cain SP
Soriano RP 

and gave up:

Butler 1B
Gonzalez OF
Lester SP
Hanrahan RP
Cashner RP

Let's see, the SP upgrade is obvious--Lester for Strasburg and Cain. Hut he traded a closer and a half for half a closer. Granted, having Soriano and Robertson in the same 'pen means he'll have the Yankees' saves for sure, which isn't a bad place to be.

The hitting is a little more complicated, as Gonzalez is a star and Butler is useful. It's tempting to think of Votto and CarGo as balancing each other out, but Gonzalez is doing better and adds steals. Still, McRuder can reasonably hope the difference will be close by the end of the season.

In a vacuum, I don't know if I would trade Butler for the entire pile of Craig, Harper, Utley, and Cozart ... but I would if I were in last place and needed a Hail Mary. If all four tank and Butler just keeps doing what he does, well it's like Branch Rickey told Ralph Kiner: "We finished last with you, and we could've finished last without you." Risk avoidance just doesn't make sense when you're in last place.

What can we learn from this? Well, I think McRuder is making the moves he should, that anyone in his place should contemplate. Take on whatever upside you can, and don't worry about the risk. It's one thing if you're in a close last place, but when you're already far out, the best thing seems to do is to gravitate towards two things: trading your top quality to fill multiple needs, and to grab as much upside as you can.

Other teams, especially those in the league's top half ought to do just the opposite. Trading quantity -- especially when resources overlap or you start building huge leads in a single category -- for a single star can net you that player, plus whoever you want to take a chance on/stream with from the waiver wire. Of course, the higher you are in the standings, the more you have to lose; risky players like rookies and injury comebacks are just the sort of commodities it makes sense to swap for reliable "just good" players. It's a simple enough idea, but it's a good recipe for trades that make sense for both partners.



This Week In Streaming Strategy

Here are a few names to slot into your lineup (or keep on the bench) in order to maximize your fantasy points over the next seven days...

* Regular Designated Hitters.  Interleague play begins on Friday, with the Rangers, Orioles, Twins, Angels, Mariners, Athletics, Red Sox and White Sox all playing three games in NL parks.  This means that lineup regulars like David Ortiz, Kendrys Morales or Adam Dunn may lose some playing time. On the other hand, if their managers put them into the field, that could mean that other notable stars will hit the bench for a game or two. The lineup permutations are endless, so if you have any players from any of those eight AL teams going on the road this weekend, give your fantasy roster a quick look 30 minutes before first pitch so you can properly adjust for who's starting and who isn't.

* National League bench bats.  The Marlins, Pirates, Reds, Diamondbacks, Mets, Reds and Braves will be playing in AL parks this weekend, meaning that some of their platoon or bench players will see some DH at-bats. For instance, Chris Young is expected to return from Arizona's DL this week, so the D'Backs can just slot him into the lineup without having to remove Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra. Or, since the Braves are scheduled to face right-handers James Shields and Jeff Niemann in Tampa Bay this weekend, Eric Hinske or Juan Francisco are good plays as left-handed hitters who could be Atlanta's DH.

* Derek Lowe.  The veteran righty sports a 2.47 ERA, a 63.6% groundball rate and has delivered quality starts in six of his seven outings.  His return to the American League has gone much better than anyone expected ... and yet Lowe's numbers contain more red flags than a Stanford pep rally. In 43 2/3 innings pitched, Lowe has just 13 strikeouts and an equal number of walks, plus a WHIP of 1.51.  His FIP and xFIP stand at 3.94 and 4.36, respectively, indicating that he's gotten some good fortune.  (While Lowe has a .317 BABIP, that metric is somewhat skewed given that he's such an extreme groundball pitcher.)  Given that Lowe gives you next to no value in strikeouts and WHIP, you're forced to rely on just his wins and ERA to help your fantasy team, and there's plenty of evidence to suggest that the bubble could burst any start now. Lowe may be a tempting two-start option this week since he's facing the Twins and Marlins, but I wouldn't risk picking him up.  In fact, if you do have him in your rotation, I hope you're trying like mad to trade him while his value is probably peaking.

* Jason Hammel. Just so we're keeping track, I'm advising you to avoid the risk of Derek Lowe, and yet throwing caution to the wind by inviting everyone aboard the Hammel bandwagon.  (You can grab a seat next to Roto Authority's Tom Warman.)  Hammel's breakout season has been a big reason for the Orioles' early success, as the Rockies' castoff has pitched like an ace through his six starts.  Hammel is scheduled to face the light-hitting Nationals in interleague action next weekend, and while that's a very enticing start, his scheduled start for Monday against the Yankees is a fair reason for pause.  Hammel did pitch well against New York on April 30 at Yankee Stadium and has allowed just a single run in 15 innings at Camden Yards this season.  Hammel's great start has gotten him lots of attention as he's owned in 72% of Yahoo fantasy leagues, so if you're in one of the other 28%, absolutely grab him if he's still available.  I'd hesitate to say he'll keep pitching like Jim Palmer the rest of the season, but Hammel still looks like a quality rotation hand.

* Gordon Beckham.  I hope nobody was injured during the Great Gordon Beckham Fantasy Evacuation of '12. Beckham was seen a dark-horse breakout candidate and was a popular selection in the later rounds of fantasy drafts, but after a rough .153/.231/.203 line in April, Beckham was waived by many a manager -- he is currently owned in just 8% of Yahoo fantasy leagues. For those eight-percenters who hung onto Beckham, however, you have been rewarded with some solid play, as Beckham headed into Saturday's action with a .302/.354/.512 line in May.  A two-week sample size isn't enough to tell if Beckham has really the corner or not, yet as a bench option, he's worth keeping on your fantasy roster.

* Rickie Weeks.  If you had kept Beckham in May, you could have started him ahead of Weeks, whose slump is reaching critical mass.  Weeks carried a .600 OPS into Saturday's play thanks to a lack of contact (a 28.1% strikeout rate, which would be the highest of his career should it continue the rest of the season) and not doing much with the ball when he does make contact (an 11.4% line drive rate).  At this point it might be a good idea to go a week without Weeks and give a hot waiver wire second baseman a try, or elevate someone from your bench.  Weeks does have an abnormally low .211 BABIP and he's drawing more walks than ever before, so there are definitely signs that he can return to form, but it will save you fantasy points if you wait until he does start showing that form before again slotting him into your lineup.  Of course, this could all be a moot point if Weeks is forced to miss any extra time with an injured wrist.

* Raul Ibanez.  The Yankees brought in Ibanez to feast on right-handed pitching and the veteran slugger has done just that during his short time in the Bronx.  Ibanez is hitting .293/.349/.640 against righties this season and thus could be in for a big week with the Yankees scheduled to face right-handed starters in six of seven games.  Four of those games are on the road, and while Ibanez's away OPS is over 250 points lower than his home OPS, I'd still consider him worthy of a fantasy lineup spot against a righty even without the comfort of Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch.


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RotoAuthority Live Chat

Click below to read a transcript of this week's chat with Steve Adams:



Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

In last week's Stock Watch, I recommended that owners also pick up Rafael Soriano in case the Yankees did not want to disturb David Robertson's excellent production in the setup role. The Yankees would not be the first team to bypass a superior pitcher for the closer role (see the Nationals with Tyler Clippard to start this season). Yesterday, Soriano picked up a save after Robertson had worked consecutive games and blown a save in spectacular fashion. Soriano is an excellent add for owners searching for saves on the waiver wire.

Buy

  • Kyle Seager - Qualifies at shortstop in Yahoo leagues and has been hot in May with three home runs and 13 RBIs. Nice power and speed combo, and will continue to get at-bats with Chone Figgins benched.
  • Peter Bourjos - Waived in many leagues after a poor start to the season and inability to get consistent at-bats following the promotion of Mike Trout. The Angels are rumored to be discussing a trade of Bourjos to the Nationals, where he would receive regular playing time and would attempt to prove the Angels wrong (see: Mike Napoli).
  • Jason Hammel - Leads the AL and is fifth in MLB in SIERA at 2.75. Hammel pitches in the pitcher-unfriendly AL East, but his average fastball velocity compared to 2011 is up by .6 mph, while his average changeup is down .7 mph. These changes have resulted in a massive increase from 4.97 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011 to 8.84 in 2012. Meanwhile, his walks per nine innings have decreased from 3.59 to 2.56. Hammel is a different pitcher this year, and owners should look to acquire him from an owner that wants to "sell high".
  • Max Scherzer - Pitched well in getting a win in Oakland last night, and his SIERA entering that start was only 3.48 compared to a 6.32 ERA. His ERA has been bloated by a .407 BABIP entering last night's start, but his swinging-strike percentage was actually up from 9.8% in 2011 to 12.3% in 2012.
  • Allen Craig - Has been raking since coming back from the DL with 3 homers and 11 RBIs in only 31 plate appearances. With Lance Berkman returning from the DL shortly, the Cardinals will need to find Craig a position. If this position is second base, Craig will gain position eligibilty there in leagues using the standard 20 games played last season or five games played in current season. Craig already qualifies at the keystone in Yahoo leagues.
  • Edward Mujica - Despite recording saves on May 3 and 6, the Marlins turned to Steve Cishek in a save opportunity on May 9. Cishek blew the save, and Mujica may see the next opportunity while Heath Bell works himself back into form.
  • Aroldis Chapman – Sporting insane ratios of 0.00 ERA and 0.57 WHIP with 27 Ks in 15 2/3 IP, it may only be a matter of time before Chapman replaces the struggling Sean Marshall as closer.
  • Wilton Lopez - Those with room on their bench should stash Lopez. He is pitching well enough that he will not hurt you when activated, and he should move into the closer's role when the Astros turn Brett Myers' hot start into a nice return from one of the many teams whose bullpen has been decimated by injury or poor performance.
  • Addison Reed - Two saves and zero earned runs on the season. Although the White Sox announced Chris Sale as their closer, Sale had a MRI yesterday and was used in the 8th inning in his last appearance, while Reed later recorded the save.
  • Jeff Samardzija - Dropped in many leagues after consecutive poor starts on April 13 and 19, Samardzija is back to dealing with a 3.03 ERA, 2.61 FIP and 3.10 SIERA. Samardzija is succeeding despite not being lucky with balls in play, as he is sporting a .305 BABIP. Wins may be hard to come by on a Cubs team with a poor offense and an even worse bullpen. But, Samardzija is still a good acquisition from skeptical owners.

Sell

  • Brett Myers - Fast start should net a good return from owners that have lost saves in the year of the closer carousel. He's not guaranteed to close if he is traded, and I am skeptical he can keep his walks per nine innings at .84, which is far below his 2.96 career average.
  • Rafael Dolis - Closing for the Cubs despite a 5.03 SIERA, Dolis is more smoke and mirrors than effective stopper, as shown by .63 K/BB ratio and 5.1 swinging strike rate. Dolis' 2.79 ERA is propped up by a lucky .183 BABIP. I expect Dolis to implode sooner rather than later, and the Cubs to turn back to Carlos Marmol to increase his trade value.
  • Kyle Drabek - He's sporting a 3.34 ERA, but a high 5.36 walks per nine inning average show that Drabek is living on the edge. I am hesitant to roster AL East pitchers, particularly ones like Drabek with a 4.53 SIERA and 5.29 FIP.
  • Derek Jeter - Rocking a .388 AVG that is the result of an inflated .413 BABIP. Jeter is unlikely to have rediscovered his power stroke at the age of 37, so I expect his 31.3 home run per flyball percentage to return to the levels of 2011 (7.0%) and 2010 (9.9%).


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