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Stock Watch: Bad Calls, Bad Aces, and Good Prospects

Last week on Stock Watch, we might have made some recommendations that...didn't quite work out. Jake Odorizzi got bombed and sent back to the minors, while Kevin Gausman, well, at least he didn't get sent down. The Rays certainly don't have enough committed to Odorizzi for you to keep him on your redraft roster while he pitches for AAA Durham, but Gausman is still worth hanging onto. His odds of being an impact rookie have gone down, but they aren't at zero yet, which is more than you can say for most pitchers on the waiver wire.

That said, let's get to this week's recommendations.

Trade For

Much has been made of the struggles of a certain catcher named Montero--hitting around the Mendoza-line, getting sent down, having his #1 prospect status replaced with that of ex-prospect, getting sent down to the minors, maybe going on the DL--but what about the other catching Montero? Well, he's been pretty bad too, to the tune of a .206 AVG and a .291 SLG. Yeah, I had to double-check to see that those numbers belonge to the previously-dependable Miguel and not his Seattle doppelganger. What's up with Miguel? It's hard to say for sure, but a .246 BABIP sure isn't helping. In hitter-friendly Arizona, expect that number to go up. Meanwhile, it seems like a decent bet that when his luck materializes other things might start to fall into place, raising his HR/FB and his ISO back to their previous rates. All this means that Montero's owner might be ready to dump him cheap, and you might be able to get a decent catcher for a bargain price.

Speaking of Prices, how about David Price? He's been a pretty significant disappointment, and now his sitting on the DL. He still doesn't have a timetable for return (not a good sign), but he's played catch for a couple days in a row (a good sign). With an ERA of 5.24, his owner might be glad to get someone healthy and effective, but his FIP (4.05) and xFIP (3.53) suggest he's been a lot better than his results. If you've got depth, use it to go after Price.

Matt Cain has been inarguably awful this season, but despite his most recent poor performance, he's got some significant bright spots. First of all, his strikeout rate of 8.60 is the best of his career, while his 2.91 BB/9 has been worse before without hurting Cain too much. What have hurt him are the homers and the stranded runners. His HR/9 rate to 1.57 after staying below 1.00 in every other season of his Major League career. His strand rate is just 62.8%, much worse than his career norms. Something seems to be going on with the homers, but the strand rate can be chalked up to luck. When Cain makes whatever adjustment he needs to, expect everything else to fall in line. His FIP (4.52) and xFIP (3.87) are already a lot better than his 5.45 ERA.

Need some help in the middle infield? Check out J.J. Hardy: despite a low batting average (and correspondingly low BABIP), he's smacked 12 homers. If his .228 BABIP goes up much, he'd be one of the best at his position. Actually, considering the scarcity of SS power, he already is. If he's got an owner who doesn't know that, make a deal.

Trade Away

Zack Greinke sports a 4.80 ERA with just a 6.00 K/9. His FIP is more optimistic, at 3.50, but xFIP isn't so impressed at 4.23. Sure, things could be worse, but that's when we get to his 2.50 K/BB ratio: sure, it isn't bad, but it's his worst since 2006--a time in which his number was usually around 3.50. Perhaps most worrying of all, though, is that his velocity is down by at least 1 mph on all three fastballs listed by Fangraphs.com. Greinke's injury seems to be the split between him being effective and being smacked around badly. Maybe he's (still) just rusty and will find his groove and be fine. Or maybe the injury is lingering. How badly do you want to stick around and find out? Your safest strategy is probably to try swinging a deal for a decent quality player--like Price or Cain. If Greinke gets it figured out, good for him. If not, he'll be on someone else's fantasy team.

Of course, if someone takes this advice to the extreme and offers you Greinke for a backup OF, take the chance on Greinke....

Pick Up

Some weeks are all about the trades, but others are all about those free agent targets. This is one of those weeks. Rumors are swirling about an unusual number of prospects--and several are already up to the majors. There are different levels of team commitment to each prospect, so we'll examine each in his appropriate category.

In Majors, Job to Keep

Nick Franklin has displaced former-top-prospect Dustin Ackley in the Mariners' 2B job, and it will be Franklin's to keep unless he plays his way out of it. On the off-chance Seattle brings Ackley back up to the bigs, Franklin can slide over and play short, so playing time is very much his to lose. That said, he's not an impact prospect so much as a pretty good one, so don't go dropping a productive player for him.

Filling in for Now

Alex Presley wasn't hitting much at all, so Pittsburgh sent him back to AAA in April. He hit well for Indianopolis and went three for five for the big club on Saturday. How much chance he'll be given to stick has yet to be determined, but he's well worth the fantasy shot.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. had one of those unbelievable springs...and then showed us why we shouldn't have believed it in his first Major League week. He torched AAA after getting sent down, however, and now he gets a chance to fill in for Jacoby Ellsbury. The idea is that he'll got back to Pawtucket when Ellsbury returns, but if he really hits the ball, I bet the Sox find him at bats. Plus, Ellsbury isn't exactly the healthiest guy in the world.

Michael Wacha dominated the Royals in his Major League debut and should be getting regular starts for the Cardinals. If you've already missed out on Wacha, don't feel too bad: his AAA K/9 rate wasn't anything special, he'll be on an IP limit, and, well, it was the Royals. That said, pick him up! He's a high-quality prospect and the Cardinals are just about the best team to be a pitching prospect for.

Just Wait Till We Get There

Anthony Rendon is playing second base in the minors, which seems to spell impending doom for the struggling Danny Espinosa. Though he fell flat last time through, the top prospect could certainly do better in his second chance. Adding 2B eligiblity would be nice for the 3B prospect too. It can be hard to get a prospect in a deep league, so this might represent the last chance to get him for lots of us.

Yasiel Puig has generated a lot of rumors this year, but there hasn't been any room in the crowded (and struggling) Dodgers outfield. With Matt Kemp on the DL, we have our opening. It might be temporary, but if Puig does come up, and he does hit, are the disappointing Dodgers really going to send him back down? Don't bet on it. 

There are a lot of if's with Rendon and Puig, but both have the talent to provide a lot of fantasy punch if those ifs work out--they're well worth the risk.

Not a Prosepct, Just a Closer

Surprise! Huston Street is hitting the DL with a calf injury. While he may not be out long, it's still worth picking up Luke Gregerson for some saves in the meantime. Technically Dale Thayer could get some opportunities too, but Gregerson should be the top guy. 

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