June 2012

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RotoAuthority Live Chat

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

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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Last week's Stock Watch highlighted Paul Goldschmidt and Rajai Davis as buys that were available on many waiver wires.  Both players are now hot properties in fantasy baseball as they continued their excellent production over the past seven days.  


  • Ian Kennedy - After a 21-win season, Kennedy's stock was over-hyped in the pre-season.  However, after a slow start to the season he looks like a nice buy-low candidate.  Kennedy's ERA is high at 3.93, but his strikeouts are up from last season and his 3.46 SIERA is right in line with his mark from last year.  Kennedy has pitched excellent in his last two starts including a zero run, 12-strikeout gem his last time out.  A good idea would be to obtain Kennedy for Chris Sale or Johan Santana if given the opportunity.  Both Sale and Santana are injury risks, with Sale already having been skipped once this year with a brief banishment to the bullpen and perhaps facing an innings limit.
  • Aramis Ramirez - Slow starts are nothing new for Ramirez as April and May are by far his worst career months.  Slowed with a quad injury, now is the time to see if you can pry Ramirez away from another owner on the cheap.  Ramirez's career batting average in June is .301 (second best to .306 in August) and July has been his best month historically for home runs.
  • Trevor Cahill - Surprisingly owned in less than half of Yahoo leagues, Cahill has overall solid numbers but has increased value in daily leagues where he can be streamed for road starts where he is rocking a 2.64 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.
  • Trevor Plouffe - Available on most waiver wires, Plouffe has hit 6 home runs since the beginning of May and qualifies in Yahoo leagues at 2B, 3B, SS and OF.  Plouffe's .176 BABIP has depressed his AVG but his 15 HRs and .313 AVG in 220 plates appearances in AAA last season shows he has decent upside for a multi-position waiver wire claim.
  • Elian Herrera - 42, 31 and 33 stolen bases in the minors each of the last three seasons, Herrera is playing every day and may have taken the 3B job from Juan Uribe.  Decent source of speed off the waiver wire for teams needing stolen base help.


  • Chris Capuano - Rocking a 2.82 ERA with 8 wins, now is the time to sell high on Capuano while he rides the wave of a .228 BABIP.  Capuano's walks are up and his HR/FB% is down from last season.  Expect a high 3's or low 4's ERA the remainder of the season - ZiPS projects a 4.31 ERA rest of season.
  • Lance Lynn - Enjoying a whopping 9 wins already, Lynn is already approaching the total innings he threw in all of 2011 between the majors and minors.  Lynn has been solid all season with a SIERA in the mid-3's.  But, I am concerned about a reduction in his stuff as he blows past his innings pitched mark from last year.  The last time Lynn was a starter in the minors was 2010 when he finished the season in AAA with a 4.77 ERA in 164 innings.
  • Kyle Lohse - A 5.08 ERA in May is likely a sign of things to come for Lohse, whose career ERAs for July, August and September are 5.02, 4.67 and 4.60 respectively.  Lohse's overall 2012 numbers still look good so see if you can include him in a larger deal to upgrade elsewhere on your roster.
  • Huston Street - Back from the DL with a win in his first appearance, sell before Street has another injury and avoid the risk that he is dealt to a contender and moved to a set-up role.  I'm guessing the Padres learned their lesson last year in holding onto Heath Bell and then losing him to free agency.

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Pryor, Tolleson & Doolittle: Holds Risers

Most of our content at RotoAuthority focuses on standard 12-team mixed leagues with traditional 5x5 scoring, but today we're going to veer off our usual track and look at some recent call-ups who could help in the holds category. Predicting who will pick up holds might be more difficult than predicting who will pick up saves in a given season, but banking on young power arms is never a bad idea. Here are three guys with barely two combined weeks of big league time to their credit who could help you in a holds league, presented in order of fantasy usefulness.

Stephen Pryor | Mariners

A fifth round pick in 2010, the 22-year-old right-hander has three appearances under his belt but already has seen high-leverage work. Pryor entered last night's game with men on first and second and one out with a one-run run lead in the sixth inning against a division rival, coaxing an inning-ending double play before chipping in a scoreless seventh. The 6-foot-4, 245 pounder comes right over the top with a big mid-90s fastball and a power low-80s curveball. His minor league strikeout rates are off the charts (12.3 K/9 and 33.0% of batters faced) but he needs to iron out his strike-throwing abilities (4.6 BB/9 and 12.4% of batters faced). We've seen countless late-game relievers succeed with high walk rates as long as they miss bats, which Pryor certainly does.

Tom Wilhelmsen has filled in nicely for displaced closer Brandon League, who is working setup innings and is likely to moved before the deadline. Pryor should assume eighth inning duties once that happens if not sooner.

Shawn Tolleson | Dodgers

Los Angeles called up the 24-year-old Tolleson in the wake of Javy Guerra's knee injury two days ago, though he has yet to appear in a game. The right-hander had video game numbers in the minors, with a sky-high strikeout rate (13.4 K/9 and 38.4% of batters faced) and a low walk rate (2.1 BB/9 and 6.0% of batters faced) in 120 innings since being a 30th round pick in 2010. Tolleson has a sometimes violent delivery that adds deception to his mid-90s fastball, low-90s cutter, and mid-80s slider. It's true late-inning, high-leverage stuff.

As expected, Kenley Jansen has taken over as the Dodgers' closer with Josh Lindblom handling most of the setup work. Ronald Belisario has also seen a few setup innings since coming off the restricted list. Manager Don Mattingly is from the Joe Torre school of bullpen use, meaning Tolleson will first have to prove his worth in miscellaneous middle relief innings before being trusted at the end of the game. Even if he doesn't displace Lindblom, seventh inning guys are underrated holds candidates, especially those who pile up strikeouts.

Sean Doolittle | Athletics

Doolittle, 25, has a story right out of a move script. He was the 41st overall pick in the 2007 draft as a first basemen, struggled with injuries that kept him on the shelf for all of 2010 and just about all of 2011, then converted to pitching and dominating ever since. The southpaw threw one tune-up inning last year before striking out 48 (17.3 K/9 and 51.7% of batters faced) and walking just seven (2.5 BB/9 and 7.5% of batters faced) in 25 minor league innings this season. He was called up to Oakland recently and in his first (and only) appearance, he struck out three of the four men he faced in a mop-up role. He's a fastball-slider guy and clearly has the ability to miss bats.

The A's have two veteran and imminently trade-able relievers in their bullpen in Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour, creating a potential opportunity for Doolittle down the road. Right-hander Ryan Cook has been brilliant since coming over in the Trevor Cahill trade and currently sets up, so he figures to be the first in line for save chances. Power left-handers will get chance after chance though, so keep the former first baseman in midn when trying to dig up bullpen help later this year.

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A Martyr For My Love For You

It's the eternal dilemma that, without fail, plagues every fantasy owner, every season: Do I drop this slow-starter or slumper, or do I hold on under the premise that he'll turn it around?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer, of course. Each player, roster and league is unique.

Typically, I'm a hair-trigger type. I'm not especially tolerant of dead weight, although I promised myself I'd try to exercise more patience this year, having been burned by dumping useful players too soon in the past. So I've sat on strugglers like Jemile Weeks, Logan Morrison, Jaime Garcia and Mat Latos.

But we're now roughly one-third of the way through the season, and while hot streaks can begin at a moment's notice, it's not at all inappropriate to wonder whether these loathsome underperformers will ever catch fire -- or even turn it on enough just to be passable as bottom-of-the-roster contributors.

Here's a look at some duds, and whether you'll want to hold 'em or dump 'em.

Morrison, Marlins, 1B/OF: Lo-Mo gained the added bonus of some extra positional flexibility by being moved to first base when fellow underwhelmer Gaby Sanchez was demoted to Triple-A, but it's done little for his bottom line. The 12.2% walk rate sure is purdy, but it's beginning to look like that's the only tool in his shed, and I'm not especially optimistic that the .256 BABIP will come up much given last year's .265 figure. Add in the fact that the new Marlins Ballpark is playing like the next great pitcher's haven, and I'm resigned to dumping Morrison as soon as Brett Gardner is back from the DL. #Protip for Lo-Mo: Let's see fewer tweets and more hits.

Weeks, Athletics, 2B: While fellow middle-infield speedster Dee Gordon was getting far more pub than Weeks this spring, I targeted the latter with designs on leaning on him heavily for steals and making him my MI, which is a common use for the position. I'd become smitten with Rickie's little broseph after an impressive showing upon last year's callup. Like Morrison, however, Jemile has little else going for him aside from a respectable 10% walk rate. Last year's .350 BABIP seems like a cruel joke compared to this year's .262 mark, and he's looking like a decent but not great basestealer (10 on the year, 66% career success rate in MLB). ZiPS foresees a spike in BABIP but a regression in walk rate, which would roughly cancel each other out. I dumped Weeks last week, and he's not making me regret it so far.

Garcia, Cardinals, LHP: I thought I was getting a steal when Garcia slipped to me in the 20th round of the MLBTR League's draft, but it seems my leaguemates knew something I didn't. Every time I look at his nice peripherals, I think he should be better; the modest 6.9 K/9 seems especially wonky relative to his 11.4% swinging-strike rate. But the results really haven't been there this season, and now he's dealing with the prospect of an injury after first missing a start and then turning in a two-inning clunker vs. the Astros on Tuesday. So, it's Dump City for Garcia, and I find myself going back to the drawing board in relying too heavily on peripherals that don't sync up with what my eyes are telling me.

Latos, Reds, RHP: Latos was supposed to be my second-best pitcher -- after ace Roy Halladay. So ... yeah. Latos started slowly in both 2010 and 2011, which is mildly encouraging, but he seems to have been overcome by some general malaise as he adapts from San Diego to Cincinnati. He's tweaked his repertoire to add a cutter, and it ain't cuttin'. He's also altered his delivery, and of course there's the 1,000-pound gorilla in the room: Great American Ball Park, his new home digs, which has seen his HR/FB rate jump all the way up to 15%. The 4.91 ERA is misleading in light of a 3.90 SIERA, but that's still not what I paid for. That being said, Latos cannot be cut. If you're truly desperate to rid yourself of him, dangle him or package him a trade; you'll get pennies on the buck, but it's better than nothing. If you're stubborn, like me, hold on and hope talents trumps whatever's ailing Latos. It wouldn't be the first time he turned it around after an ugly start.

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Closer Updates: Angels, Mariners, Tigers

We've got in-depth closer analysis in this weekly column, but for timely, up-to-the-minute updates, be sure to follow @closernews on Twitter.

Ernesto Frieri has really taken to this closing thing. For one, he's sort of a ham. His jersey is untucked just so. He's extremely deliberate between pitches. He sports a closely cropped, curly mohawk (a sure sign of eccentricity). And, above all, he's really tough to hit.

And that seems to have been enough to convince Angels brass that Frieri should take the reins from Scott Downs, who has been every bit as good as Frieri, albeit with a completely different style. Perhaps the Halos prefer Frieri because Downs is a groundballer and a left-hander; prototypical closers are typically right-hander power arms.

Regardless, since May 23 Frieri has four saves to Downs' two, and while that's not an overwhelming split, it bears noting that Frieri has the past two and three of four. The Halos asked that Frieri earn his stripes before giving him the closer's gig, and he did; he remains unscored upon as an Angel through 14 appearances. That's about as well as a reliever can pitch.

The unbalanced saves split will continue between Frieri and Downs, with perhaps the former assuming an even larger share. Downs is worth an add if you're in need of saves and he's kicking around on your wire, but Frieri has taken precedence as the must-own.

Brandon League was quietly removed from the closer's role late last month, and although I loved League coming into the year based on his strong 2011, he fully deserved the demotion based on his poor performance to date.

The problem is, the M's didn't necessarily have a no-brainer alternative at that point. The options included Tom Wilhelmsen, Steve Delabar, Hisashi Iwakuma and minor leaguer Stephen Pryor. Wow, that's a who's who of prominent relievers, ain't it?

Iwakuma -- in his first year stateside after a lengthy career in Japan -- snagged Seattle's first two saves following League's banishment, but both were under pretty unusual circumstances. The first was a three-inning save in a blowout win over the Rangers -- a mop-up save, as it were. The other came in the 12th inning of a marathon against the White Sox in Chicago, in which the M's had already burned through five relievers (including Wilhelmsen for three).

Pryor, meanwhile, became a trendy pick over the past week based on his minor league dominance, but it's pretty rare for a team to anoint a rookie as its closer immediately upon his debut. He didn't get to close in his first outing, and while he was impressive in striking out a couple batters, he also served up a home run. Keep a close eye on Pryor in the coming weeks, but I don't see Eric Wedge handing over the ninth to him so soon.

Wilhelmsen, 28, is the best add of the bunch, as he locked down a more customary save chance in Monday night's win over the Angels. His 3.60 ERA doesn't look great, but his 2.44 SIERA suggests a nice correction could be in the cards, and the 10.8 K/9 and 2.70 BB/9 seem to back it up. The one word of caution here is that Wilhelmsen didn't flash stuff like this at the upper levels of the minor leagues, but it's possible that he is still improving as he sat out of professional ball in his early and mid-20s before making a comeback prior to 2010.

All that being said, League remains a trade candidate this summer, and the M's would be best served to restore faith in his abilities by getting him right -- and back him back into the closer's role.

Jose Valverde seemed to defy ERA estimators throughout the entirety of 2011, and perhaps it has finally caught up to him in 2012. The veteran right-hander has yet to hit his stride this season (4.64 ERA, 4.89 SIERA), and we're left to wonder whether he ever will. His strikeout-to-walk ratio has trended downward for several years now, settling at an unseemly 1.13 through the season's first two months. And every time he settles into a few-outing scoreless stretch, he runs into a meltdown. Ugh.

Joaquin Benoit, meanwhile, is enjoying a fine season and racking up boatloads of strikeouts, and I think he's worth a stash now in 12-team leagues (and deeper) with Valverde so obviously on the ropes. There's mild concern over forearm tightness Benoit recently experienced, which is always worrisome, but assuming he checks out cleanly, he has pretty good odds of dethroning the incumbent. Nothing's ever promised in this ugly chase for the ninth inning, but Benoit right now looks like as strong a candidate to pull it off as any reliever in MLB.

Quick-ish Hits
Santiago Casilla remains unavailable after suffering a bruised leg on a comebacker last week, but the Giants say a DL stint is not in the cards. Sergio Romo picked up the first save in his absence, and Jeremy Affeldt got the one after that. ... Aroldis Chapman pitched on consecutive days Friday and Saturday but wasn't needed on Sunday, although Dusty Baker said he was available to pitch if need be. Chapman has yet to go three in a row this season. ... Drew Storen was transferred to the 60-day DL in procedural move by the Nats. He's still expected back around the All-Star break. ... Huston Street has begun a minor league rehab assignment and could be activated Tuesday. Dale Thayer owners should hold on till Street is back and pitching effectively, but I fully expect Street to return to closing. ... Rafael Soriano will remain Yankees closer even when David Robertson returns from the DL, according to Joe Girardi.

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Silver League Update: What Would Winners Do?

Now, I know it "ain't over till it's over," but it's the beginning of June, and the standings are starting to matter a lot more than I wish they did. Nobody is close to running away with the Silver League, but there are two teams sitting close together at the top of the standings: The Great Badbonis and the E-Z Sliders. Their success (and my own seemingly cemented place in ninth) got me thinking about a quote from Malcolm X that I'll paraphrase: "Whenever someone else is more successful than you, they're doing something you're not."

It's a simple enough idea, but not always the easiest one to put into practice when your own strategies seem so smart but haven't exactly brought the best results. I was going to ask the owners what their secrets are, but a warning from Dogbert stopped me short: "Beware the advice of successful people -- they do not seek company." So I'm left to do my own investigating. The good news is that you know you can trust my advice from my place in the standings.

The two teams have taken separate strategies to the top of the standings, with the Badbonis dominating the pitching categories and Sliders showing more balance and hitting strength. How dominating is dominating? The Badbonis sit in first place in wins and WHIP, second place in ERA and strikeouts, and a lowly third in saves. It isn't an unbalanced team either, with runs its only low-scoring category. The Sliders, meanwhile, are at or near the top in all hitting categories and are above the water line in all the pitching categories except strikeouts.

Perhaps most telling, though, are the categories in which both teams are about equally successful: batting average and steals. Steals, like saves, is one of the easier categories to ensure doing well in -- it's just that you usually have to make some sacrifices to get it. Batting average, with individual players' high variances, seems to me a lot tougher to win on purpose. So ... are these teams lucky or good?

The key here seems to be the balance. There are plenty of steals-only players that can rack up huge thefts numbers all by themselves but tend to be liabilities in other categories. Take Emilio Bonifacio for instance. The guy's injured but still leads the Majors in steals. Oh, and he had only six RBIs and no homers when he got hurt. There's a reason I'm leading the Silver League in steals and losing in the other hitting categories.

The Badbonis and the Sliders seem to have a more balanced approach (and a little good luck on their side, too). Spreading their speed around, the Badbonis have four players with at least nine steals and three more with at least five. Of them, only Alcides Escobar should be considered a "steals-only" player -- and he's hitting .303. I don't imagine the Badbonis are even missing Brett Gardner right now. The Sliders are even more balance-oriented, with six players with at least six steals and a couple more from almost everyone else on the roster. For the moment, they're tied for second place with 61 steals each.

Batting average is a little tougher to depend on, and my first thought was that these teams were -- like several in the Silver League -- plying the waiver wire for as many extra at-bats and good matchups as they can. There's certainly a correlation between effort and success, but no, this can't be the answer, as the teams have made just 18 and 21 transactions.

It's tough to predict the high end of good batting average, but it isn't so hard to find players who might just have terrible batting averages. Outside of their catchers, both the Badbonis and Sliders have managed to avoid such players. In their starting lineups are just two non-catchers batting under .240: Erick Aybar and Eric Hosmer, who hasn't even been with the Sliders all season long. Hosmer proves you can't always see an average sink coming, but players like Mark Reynolds, Pedro Alvarez, and Alexei Ramirez shouldn't surprise anyone. This sort of risk avoidance has gotten the teams averages of .270 and .272. While players like Melky Cabrera and Mike Trout are likely to see drops in their BA as the season goes on, teams like these are built to weather hits like those. Of any category, though, I can still see this one changing the most as the season goes on.

Though neither team is streaming hitters, both are carrying two bench hitters. That doesn't sound like much, but in a league with only three total bench spots, it can make a big difference in which matchups you can play. The flip side of this choice, though, is that it means carrying only seven starters and, with just two points in the category, that's been hurting the E-Z Sliders. Not so for the Badbonis, as they sit in second place in K's thanks to efficiency that's unmatched in the league: 491 K's in 495 2/3 innings -- nearly a batter per inning! Of their 10 pitchers, only Ervin Santana has a low K/9 (6.72), and six are striking out at least a batter per inning. Taking Craig Kimbrel early doesn't hurt, and neither does Joe Nathan's sudden return to awesomeness.

I'm not sure if we've stumbled on a perfect formula for success, but this seems to be the basic idea: avoid true BA sinks, and grab lots of the sort of hitters that tack a few (maybe 15 on the year) steals on to their total. Players like that might be more likely to beat out ground balls and up their averages, too. Don't punt anything and use bench spots to play your matchups. Don't be afraid to reach for a closer that racks up strikeouts, and while everyone else is concentrating on hitting in the middle of the draft, grab some risky high-K pitchers. Oh, and don't worry about catchers.

Finally, make sure to get at least one hitter to hit way more homers than expected -- like Edwin Encarnacion, Carlos Beltran, or Josh Reddick. Obviously, every winning team is going to need a little good luck to get through the year. Sometimes it evens out, and sometimes it doesn't, but putting yourself in the right place to capitalize on your luck is a good way to start winning.

Off to an awesome season? Have a winning strategy that you just can't help but brag about? Think my ideas are crazy? Start a discussion in the comments.

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This Week In Streaming Strategy

To start or not to start, that is the question.  Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the Inges and Morrows of outrageous fortune, or to take (two-start) arms against a sea of starts at Fenway Park, and by opposing end them. To sleep, perchance to stream!

Most Shakespeare quotes aren't very useful when applied to fantasy baseball -- he just keeps pushing you to start Daniel Bard.  Let's put the Swan of Avon aside and focus on the comedy of errors known as my weekly streaming tips.

* American League DHs. Another round of interleague play begins on Friday, with the Indians, Royals, Tigers, Rays, Blue Jays, Rangers, Angels and Athletics all heading to NL parks and losing their designated hitters for three games. This means that, for instance, the Royals will lose one of Billy Butler or Eric Hosmer (my guess is that Butler starts at least two of the Royals' three games in Pittsburgh) and the Rangers will have to employ their usual creativity with Michael Young's spot in the lineup. As I noted a few weeks ago, be prepared to make some quick pre-game changes to your lineup if some of your regular big bats are riding the bench this weekend.

* National League bench players. The Astros, Cubs, Phillies, Nationals, Mets and Dodgers are all playing in AL parks this weekend, thus opening up some playing time for DH candidates. Bobby Abreu, for example, should be moved to DH duty when the Dodgers are in Seattle, opening the door for Tony Gwynn Jr. and intriguing rookies Alex Castellano and Scott Van Slyke for playing time in the outfield. 

* Tony Campana.  I want to highlight the Cubs outfielder even though he may not be as helped as you might think by the Cubs' trip to an AL stadium this coming weekend.  After stealing two more bases on Saturday, Campana now has 18 steals (from 21 attempts) this season, ranking him second in all of baseball despite receiving limited playing time.  Campana has little pop but his average (.305) and on-base percentage (.353) are certainly worth a few more starts in center field, especially now that Joe Mather may be playing more at third base in place of the struggling Ian Stewart.  Campana is a left-handed bat and the Cubs are slated to face at least four righty starters this week, though when they do reach their interleague dates in Minnesota, Campana will face at least one southpaw (Scott Diamond) and maybe a second in Francisco Liriano depending on how the Twins shuffle their rotation.  Still, I'd stream Campana this week since even if he gets just four starts against right-handers, that could easily translate to at least four steals.

* Derek Holland. As a Holland owner myself, I felt the pain first-hand as Holland inexplicably blew up against the Mariners (the Mariners!) last week. Holland lasted just 1 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs as the Seahawks beat the Cowboys by a 21-8 score. After a start like that, naturally, I'm ... recommending him as a two-start option for the upcoming week? It seems as if the young southpaw's inconsistency this season can be tied to Rangers Ballpark; Holland has a 6.69 ERA in seven games (six starts) at home this season, as opposed to a 2.84 ERA in four starts on the road.  Arlington is a tough place to pitch even if you're not facing the Texas lineup, but this week Holland gets two road outings in two very pitcher-friendly stadiums. He starts on Tuesday against the A's in Oakland and then is scheduled for a Sunday interleague matchup at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Holland has definite bounce-back potential with those two opponents and, in the wake of the Mariners' start, may very well be available on your waiver wire.

* Jason Hammel. The Orioles right-hander is the inverse of Holland; Hammel has a 1.73 ERA in four starts at home and a 4.04 ERA in six road outings.  With a nod to those splits, I'd recommend benching Hammel for his start at Fenway against the Red Sox on Tuesday, but he's a good play to start at Camden Yards on Sunday against the lackluster Phillies offense. I'd keep a wary eye on Hammel in general since he's coming back to earth after a stellar beginning to the 2012 season. Hammel had a 2.09 ERA through his first six outings this season but a 4.70 ERA in his last four starts.

* Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis. These left-handed Mets hitters will get plenty of opportunity to produce since the Amazins are scheduled to face six consecutive right-handed starters before a possible date with Andy Pettitte on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. If you've hung in there with Davis all season, this may be his last stand; if he can't get his ice-cold bat going against all these favorable matchups, I'd recommend cutting him from your fantasy roster.

* Scott Hairston. Conversely, all those right-handed opponents could portend a tough week for a right-handed bat like Hairston. The veteran has been one of several unheralded players who have come up big for the surprising Mets this season, but Hairston has standard splits for a right-handed hitter (career .832 OPS against lefties, .695 OPS against righties) and isn't likely to provide much from Monday to Saturday. It's not a good long-term prospect to have Hairston on your fantasy team, of course, but he's provided good streaming value this season, hitting .274/.317/.558 with six homers in 101 plate appearances.

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RotoAuthority Live Chat

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


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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Last week's Stock Watch recommended selling Brandon League, and the weekend after the article posted, League was removed as closer. Hopefully, you didn't own League in this season of the Closer Carousel.


  • Cliff Lee - Posting the same elite numbers that we are accustomed to -- except with zero wins on the season. Lee has the second-best SIERA among qualifying starters at 2.64, and his groundball rate is up while his line-drive percentage is down compared to last year. See if you can upgrade your rotation by acquiring Lee from an owner who is underrating Lee based on his unlucky shortage of wins.
  • A.J. Burnett - Sporting the 11th-best SIERA among qualifying starters at 3.11, Burnett's ERA is inflated by one horrific start. Take away the 12 earned runs Burnett gave up to the Cardinals on May 2, and his ERA would be a spectacular 1.52.
  • R.A. Dickey - Quietly enjoying an excellent season with seven wins and a 3.06 ERA. Dickey's strikeouts per nine innings has skyrocketed this season which has resulted in a 3.18 SIERA. Dickey is a legitimate mixed-league starter despite not carrying much name recognition.
  • Dexter Fowler - Hitting leadoff for the Rockies, Fowler is showing a nice power (eight home runs) and speed (5 stolen bases) combo. A hot streak has his batting average up to .282, yet his BABIP is actually lower than his career average. If Fowler can hold the leadoff position, he should be a huge source of runs, and while his homer pace will decrease, his power may continue to exceed his career norms as he enters the prime of his career.
  • Paul Goldschmidt - Dropped in many 12-team mixed leagues after a slow start, Goldschmidt has been hot in May with a .314 batting average and homers in two of his past four games. Goldschmidt even will chip in a few stolen bases, so he should be claimed where available on waiver wires.
  • Rajai Davis - Playing full time with the demotion of Eric Thames. Davis has big-time steal potential and has shown surprising pop this year.
  • Justin Smoak - Has hit four home runs in his past six games, and has six home runs and 18 RBIs in May. Smoak has increased value in daily leagues where he can be benched at home (.188 average at home compared to .257 away), and should be claimed in leagues where he remains on the waiver wire after a slow start.
  • Carlos Quentin - Hot to start the year after returning from injury, and his value will increase if he is traded to a contender with a better lineup and home park. In the meantime, Quentin will put up helpful power numbers hitting cleanup for the Padres.


  • Ryan Vogelsong - Keeps enjoying his career resurgence with a 2.36 ERA. However, troubling signs abound as his K/BB ratio is only 1.77 and he is enjoying an 84% left-on-base percentage. Vogelsong's 4.37 SIERA is a warning sign to owners that the ride may not last long.
  • Henderson Alvarez - Pitching in the AL East is a tough assignment for any starter, and Alvarez's 3.56 ERA is likely to spike in the near future. Alvarez K/BB ratio is an unsightly 1.19% and he is only striking out 2.60 batters per nine innings. His true skill set is reflected by a 4.58 SIERA and 5.49 FIP. Alvarez should not be rostered in 14-team mixed leagues.
  • Jarrod Parker - Now is the time to sell Parker and his steller 2.88 ERA. Parker's K/BB ratio is 1.38 and he is only striking out 6.42 batters per nine innings. Parker is also unlikely to earn many wins pitching for a weak Oakland lineup. Parker's 4.84 SIERA is a warning sign that his ERA is likely at the lowest point it will be all season.
  • Mark Trumbo - Rocking a .348 batting average that is not sustainable with a strikeout percentage over 20% and inflated .396 BABIP. ZiPS projects a .269 average for the remainder of the season. But, Trumbo's ISO is an excellent .284 and his power is for real, so target power-hungry owners by touting Trumbo's batting average.
  • Matt Adams - Strong out of the gate with a .317 batting average, but Allen Craig's return will cut into his playing time when Adams has his first slump. See what owners around the league will give up for the hot prospect.

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