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Stock Watch: The Long Shots and the Very Obvious

This week has a pair of exciting prospects making appearances in Major League rotations, and both could be here to stay. That's why we call them the Very Obvious. Injury returners and the possible-but-not-imminent replacements (there need to be an word that means that) for hideous underperformers make up the other top pickup options for the week. If you're looking to make a trade, this smells like a good week to invest in power, and a good week to deal away center fielders with speed and average. 

Now that I've killed all the surprises but the names, enjoy what's left of the article....

Trade For

John Lackey hasn't been good since...well, since the Angels were good and he was one. But he's been flat-out great this year, surprising everyone but his mother. Okay, she's probably surprised too, 'cause he's striking people out like it's 2005. Actually, this year's 9.08 K/9 is the best of his big league career, so no wonder his FIP 2.92 and xFIP 3.03 are palindromes. I mean, no wonder they're so good. If his owner in your league is taking a happily skeptical attitude to the new, old John Lackey, tell him or her you'll be happy to take the risk on Lackey, as the success he's had appears plenty sustainable.

Pedro Alvarez has hit four homers in the last week and is a notoriously streaky hitter. But, man, those hot streaks are good. If he isn't available on your waiver wire, I'll bet his owner would be happy to get any value at all for Alvarez and his .200-ish average, while you can enjoy his periodic power-binges and the slightly less damaging batting averages they'll bring.

Josh Willingham is in a similar situation, having had a decent week of hitting to go with a terrible season average of .215. His BABIP could stand to go up, but that isn't as much to blame as he might like, sitting as it does at .261. Still, he's got a great power history, and is usually dependable for a mediocre average, not a terrible one. Expect some improvement here, as he reverts to his career norms.

Edwin Encarnacion (see, I was going to suggest power hitters) is a bad-BABIP victim, however: his .228 number is keeping him a three-category player. Now, his owner isn't going to be convinced that E5 is having a bad season--not with 13 homers for evidence otherwise--but they sure might feel like they overpaid for his services. If that's the case, you might be able to pay three-category price for a four-category player. Not a bad potential move.

Trade Away

If you're a Carlos Gomez owner you have two options: 1) Admit that Gomez is one of the best players in baseball and accept that someone will draft him in the first round next year. OR 2) Try to trade him, in the belief that he's a very good player having some of the best months of his entire career and at the highest point in his value. If you pick number one, then hang on to him and hope the .403 BABIP holds out. If you're more inclined to choice number two, try to find someone in your league who's thinking is more like number one. If you can get someone to blow you away in a trade, pull that trigger. Even if not, think carefully about any deal that comes close to approximating the value he's been giving.

Lorenzo Cain has been more of a speed and average guy than an MVP candidate, but he too is buoyed by a high BABIP: his .369 mark has translated into a good-but-not ridiculous .303 average. While fast players like Cain routinely put up good BABIP's, it won't take a huge dip in Cain's number to change his BA a lot. Move him to someone in need of steals or average if you have other decent OF options.

Add (The Obvious)

If you're in a daily league, Kevin Gausman and Jake Odorizzi have already been picked up. If you're a weekly player, maybe you've still got a chance. Get these guys onto your roster. Gausman has a ton of potential and struck out five batters in as many innings in his debut. The Orioles can hit the ball and they seem to intend to stick with him, so he's in a good situation. Odorizzi is also a highly talented prospect, though the Rays have a lot more options than the O's, so his leash won't be as long. Still, if he pitches well enough to stick on your fantasy team, the Rays might have no choice but to keep him in their real rotation. Bonus: he's in line for two starts next week.

Add (The Returning-from-Injury-or-Whatever)

John Danks made his first start back from injury and should be a mainstay in the Chicago rotation if he health holds up. After having previously being a pitcher of some use in fantasy, he could very well be again. He's not an ace, but he's got more potential to be useful than your usual "safe" good-but-not-awesome pitchers.

With Jim Henderson hitting the DL, Francisco Rodriguez is back just in time to save games for the Brew Crew. With John Axford remaining afflicted with terribleness, K-Rod is back to the ninth inning. It should only be temporary, but the saves he earns will be permanent in your stat sheet. (Unless you play head-to-head, I guess.) Considering how well Henderson was pitching before he got hurt, I wouldn't get excited about Rodriguez stealing the job for the long run.

The Long Shots

Remember Miguel Tejada? The Kansas City Royals do. No, he hasn't taken Mike Moustakas's job yet, but he just might, as Moose Tacos has been one of baseball's worst hitters this year. Tejada has already shown a little power, and if Moustakas gets sent down to the minors, he could be a source of cheap power, at a position that rarely has usable players on the waiver wire.

Sure Kelly Shoppach is starting for now, but Mike Zunino is the real beneficiary of the end of the Jesus Montero catching experience in Seattle. Yeah, Zunino is still down in the minors, but his status just got cemented as catcher of the future, and he's likely to come up to the bigs some time soon after the M's don't have to worry about him getting Super Two status. Keep a close eye on him, because he's got the talent to make an impact at the plate.

And Also Luke Scott

Poor Luke Scott isn't eligible for a position yet, other than DH/Util, which makes him a hard guy to roster. It's one thing to budget a spot like that for David Ortiz during your draft, but we didn't make room for Scott there. Well, if you did make room, pick Scotty up, as he continues to rake. Also, if you play in a Yahoo public league, what do you think those Util slots are for? Grab him.


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