Stock Watch

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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Stock Watch: Party Like it's 2008

Trade For

The first trio of trade-worthy players hit like gangbusters out of the gate: Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, and Todd Frazier. This group hasn't done a whole lot since. If you'd tried to trade for one of these guys after the first week of the season, their owners would have wanted a huge pile of return. Now, though, after sitting through a few weeks of regression to the mean (and still having decent power numbers), all three hitters are showing downward trends and frustrating owners who had their expectations raised in early April. With some hitters, it would be time to give up, but this group has displayed serious hitting skill in the past and all stand a good chance of regressing upward in the coming weeks. Frazier is certainly the riskiest play of the bunch, but he should also come at the lowest cost.

Two more third basemen worth trading for have essentially opposite stories despite similar power numbers: Will Middlebrooks has been awful, aside from the power, and the victim of a .240 BABIP (which can only partially explain his .205 average); Josh Donaldson has been a beast, with a .323 average (thanks in part to a .361 BABIP). While Donaldson is likely to see his average go down and Middlebrooks see his go up, I still think it's a decent time to trade for both. Middlebrooks owners must be disappointed with his performance while Dondaldson's owners are probably pretty surprised. The A's 3B was pretty unheralded coming into the season, and he's a bit old to have been a prospect. That said, his minor league numbers show power at every stop and he's a great candidate to continue to be productive going forward. If his current owner thinks he's a fluke, grab him.

If 3B, 1B, and C eligible players aren't what you're looking for, how about 2B/SS Josh Rutledge? He's shown a useful combination of five homers and five steals, but his batting average has been pretty lousy. His BABIP is .267, which isn't incredibly low...but it is low for someone who gets to play half his games at Coors Field. With summer weather coming to the mountains, it seems reasonable to expect his BABIP to go up, especially at home, and boost his other numbers along with it.

I will now plug one pitcher I always do, and two I never have. It'll be weird.

I'm always telling everyone how wonderful Marco Estrada is (seriously, the guy should send me a thank-you card or something), and his bloated 5.32 ERA isn't deterring me any. Why? Because his xFIP is a healthy 3.93 and his K/BB is 3.38. Of course, that neatly overlooks his hideous HR/9 rate of 2.17, a full HR worse than what he did last year. It seems that his situation is a dichotomy: either he's all washed up, and will continue allowing homers at this pace until his release, or he will cut down on that homer rate and go back to being a good pitcher who allows a few too many homers, Bert Blyleven style. (Okay, he might not be headed for the Hall of Fame, but still.)

Josh Beckett once authored one of the most memorable pitching performances I've ever seen, shutting out the Yankees in Game 6 of the World Series. Ten years ago. He's a different pitcher now, and after watching him scuffle and inflate ERA and WHIP numbers for entire fantasy teams for the last couple years, let's just say the magic seems to have worn off. Currently, he's treating owners to an 0-5 record and a 5.19 ERA. Like Estrada, he's got a much nicer looking xFIP (3.88) and an unsightly HR/9 (1.66). He's also sporting a .323 BABIP against. One key point in which he's improved from last year, though, is his K/9--now at 8.52, the highest it's been at since 2008. Like Estrada, he won't improve if he can't cut down on the homers; like Estrada, he'll be very useful if he does.

Anyone who looks casually at Ervin Santana's 2.79 ERA is going to cry "fluke!" I can't blame them: Santana has been one of the most frustratingly inconsistent pitchers in baseball for the last several years. The one thing he's done reliably is walk about three batters per nine innings. In 2013, he's cut that rate by two-thirds, and his K/BB is among the league leaders at 6.50. Only one other time has Santana had a quality K/BB--2008, when he was one of the best pitchers in baseball and posted a 6.0 WAR. There's a good chance his owners feel lucky to have him, and would happily flip him for a useful "reliable" player. Do it, and reap the benefits of a potentially dominant season.

Trade Away

Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells have been two of the most surprisingly productive fantasy players this year, helping the Yankees thrive amid Curtis Granderson's absence. All that is coming to an end, though, as Granderson is back and Hafner and Wells will be sharing time at DH. Deal either away if you still can.

It's always hardest to trade away a hitter proving to be a great bargain. Starling Marte and Carlos Beltran are both knocking the cover off the ball and probably producing better than the first outfielder you drafted. Beltran's got 10 HR's and a .299 batting average that's for real (.306 BABIP), but his fade in last year's second half worries me. With most players, I'd say something about sample size and luck...but Beltran is 36 with a long injury history and I wouldn't be surprised if time took its toll on him last year. 

Marte is a different story, as his power and speed are legitimate, but his .314 average is the product of a .390 BABIP. Even when his average returns to earth (last year it was just .257 with a .333 BABIP) he's going to be a highly useful outfielder, but he's not going to keep producing like he is at the moment. Fangraphs gave the other side of this arugment last week, and if you can get him on your team for a low price, do it. If you can get him off your team for a high price, do that.

Both Beltran and Marte should not be traded except for decently large returns, becuase neither should be expected to see their production crater going forward--just to drop a bit.

Chris Sale is this week's sell high in pitching, as he's thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, dominated four starts in a row (including a one-hitter last Sunday), and pitched seven innings or more in six in a row. He's not so much someone to deal before his production goes down, as someone whose current trade value is probably higher than his projected season value, making him a good trade candidate if you need to move pitching for hitting.

Pick Up

Remember Kyle Blanks? Some time ago, he was supposed to be the next (good version of) Adam Dunn. Injuries got in the way, but he's back to playing time with San Diego and still only 26. If you're in the market for a longshot with power upside, Blanks might be your man.

Colby Lewis reportedly has just three more rehab starts to make, which means he could be back in the Show in as little as two weeks. I suggest grabbing him before your competition can get their hands on him, even if that means carrying him on your DL for a while, becuase he was dominant before last year's injury. Even if he isn't dominant this year, pitching for Texas will probably make him useful in wins.

Guess who leads the Majors in K/BB. If you said Cliff Lee (like I did, before I looked it up), you were wrong. It's Bartolo Colon. Seriously, that Bartolo Colon. He's got a K/BB of 13.50! So yes, you can believe in his 1.10 WHIP. If you need help in that category, snap up Colon, despite his mediocre ERA and low K/9.

Last but not least, Ubaldo Jimenez is finally pitching like the guy the Indians traded for. He was so bad to start the season that his ERA is still 5.31, but he's now got 44 K's in 40.2 IP, and has struck ou at least eight batters in each of his last three starts. I don't know if it will continue, but he's well worth gambling on at this point.


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Stock Watch: It's a Good Week to Buy your Mom a First Baseman

As the title says, there are three intriguing 1B options on most waiver wires; in addition there's another pair who look like great candidates to improve as their BABIP normalizes. Those aren't the only players who might deserve to change hands in the next weeks, whether you're trading for slumping ace pitchers or trading away young phenoms who pitch the best game we're likely to see this season.

By the way, happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Trade For

If you had R.A. Dickey  and Cole Hamels in your rotation last year, your pitching was probably pretty good. This year...not so much. In Dickey's case, his strikeouts and velocity are down, while his homers and walks are up. It's an ugly mix, to say the least. So why do I recommend trading for the knuckleballer, when his problems appear not to be luck-related? Well, it's because of the inherent unpredictability of knuckleballs and those who throw them. It's natural to expect a higher degree of variance in their starts than in most. I'm not willing to give him a pass for his poor performance...but I'd be more than happy to buy low on him. 

Hamels is, to me, an even easier pitcher to trade for. Of course, you're less likely to find an owner willing to give up on him at this point than you are with Dickey. Hamels's strikeouts are down and his walks are up, and one can see from his FIP (4.42) and xFIP (4.15) that his mediocre ERA is of his own doing. That said, it's only been eight starts and he's been a world-class pitcher for five years now. I think he's earned more than a little benefit of the doubt, especially considering that his fastball velocity is actually up from last year.

Adam LaRoche is a fixture on any May trade-for or pick-up list. I'm not normally one to take a player's historical month-by-month splits very seriously, but with LaRoche it's appropriate to make an exception. In eight years (I added his partial 2004 and 2011 seasons into one), he's got a .214 average in 866 PA. He's a slow starter. He's starting to heat up. Nab him, especially if he's got a frustrated first-time owner.

Michael Morse was supposed to lose power in Safeco Field, and with it, most of his value. I, for one, was pretty skeptical about drafting him. Well, he's got nine homers and a .471 SLG in his first 30 games. The power seems to be there. What isn't is the average: he's dragging fantasy squads down with a mark of just .227. The good news is that he's suffering from a lousy .243 BABIP that's likely to come up. When it does, he ought to look a lot like the guy he was for the last season and half. Pretty useful.Oh, and he's had even worse luck on the road than at his much-maligned home park.

Trade Away

Jon Niese looked like a great pickup before the season, and he didn't start off terribly. Well, things have gotten terrible, as his K/9 has dropped from a healthy 7.33 last year to just 4.61 so far this year. Worse yet, his last couple performences have brought his K:BB ratio to 21:22. Exactly what's going on, I don't know. If you can include him as part of a larger package (and therefore sneak him onto someone else's team), do it. He's not a drop just yet, but he's getting unstartable.

Patrick Corbin is someone I've recommended picking up, but now is the time to send him packing. With a sparkly 5-0 record and a miniscule 0.38 HR/9, he's been a great fantasy pitcher. His track record, however, suggests that he should be a good fantasy pitcher going forward, and really nothing more. His strikeout and walk numbers support that thesis (6.99 K/9; 2.33 BB/9). If you can get a closer or a solid hitter for him, make the deal.

There is little in fantasy more difficult than trading a young player who could be a superstar in the making. The risk is very large--and all the more since it comes with the shame of trading away a player just as he's breaking out. All that said, the risk of standing pat is high too. Young players go up and down, sometimes looking like they've reached their full potential when they still have serious growing pains to get through. As such, I recommend trading Manny Machado, particularly if you have other serviceable 3B/CI options. He's been great so far, but a .351 BABIP suggests that he might not be this good yet. Rookies and young players with bright futures often command extra-high trade values, so if you can get a solid starting position player or a second/third tier SP, I would move Machado.

Shelby Miller just threw a perfect game, so trade him. (I know, I know, he allowed a hit first, but 27 outs in a row is still 27 in a row.) His trade value will never be higher and even the best rookie pitchers are rarely this good. Yes, I do think Miller will have a great rest of the season, command and deserve an ace-level draft pick next year and everything...but there is still a very good chance that you can get more value in a trade than he'll provide over the next couple months. If you can get the same return that you'd expect from a second-tier pitcher, like Max Scherzer, I think you'll be getting the better end of the deal, but aim higher and see how much you can get.

Pick Up

Luke Scott (Y!: 2%/ESPN: 0.2%/CBS: 5%) is hitting the ball well for the Rays and could be a very nice CI addition in Yahoo! leagues based on his history of hitting for power. Owners in other formats may be less interested, as he only qualifies at DH/Utility. Mitch Moreland (Y!: 11%/ESPN: 20.1%/CBS: 34%) has hit is well enough to quiet the rumors about Jurickson Profar moving up and Ian Kinsler moving over to first base for the moment. Lyle Overbay (Y!: 2%/ESPN: 0.4%/CBS: 6%) has a long history of marginal-ness, but he's certainly hitting well for the moment. Mark Teixeira may well squeeze him out of a job, but he's a good stopgap while he's hot.

Speaking of hot, Scott Kazmir (Y!: 16%/ESPN: 5.8%/CBS: 39%) is cooking with gas again. If he can regain any of his past magic, he'll be a great addition to any staff, especially those in need of strikeouts. If he can regain all of it....

Marcell Ozuna (Y!: 20%/ESPN: 12.7%/CBS: 29%) is hitting the cover off the ball for the Fish, to the tune of a .342/.390/.553 slash line. His .387 BABIP says that won't last long, but he doesn't have to win a batting title to be worth picking up, especially in deeper leagues.

Stay Away

Jeff Locke is gaining some traction as a pickup, but that's not a bandwagon you want to get on. His 2.95 ERA looks nice, but his K/9 (4.99) is way too close to his BB/9 (4.31) and his FIP (4.86). Nothing to see here.

This is a no-brainer for most, but just in case you were tempted, know that you really don't want Jason Marquis. His 5.15 FIP and 4.09 BB/9 don't tell me he can keep winning games.

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Stock Watch: I'll Bet You $10...

Years ago, some friends and I went to a baseball game. We were sitting up in the cheap seats, watching a rare close game for the Mariners in the ninth. One of my friends was...ah...not so baseball-astute, so I offered him a bet when Richie Sexson came up to bat. (I told you this was a long time ago.) I told my friend, I'll bet you $10 that Richie doesn't hit a home run. My friend chided me for my pessimism and was eager to take the bet, which I hadn't really expected but wasn't about to let go of now. Fortunately, a third friend interevened and tried to explain the low odds of even the best hitter putting the ball out of the park at any given moment. Reluctantly, my friend called off the bet and my conscience felt a little better.

Moments later, Sexson hit a home run.

In fantasy baseball (and much of life, perhaps), every move you make is its own gamble, small or large. There are two good reasons to make a bet: one, the side you're taking has a very good chance of coming to pass (me, wagering that Sexson will not homer right  at this moment), whether the gain is small or large; two, the potential gain is very large, and just possible enough to justify the fact that it will probably not pay off (my friend, wagering that Sexson will homer right now). Over the long run, these are the bets that pay off and win fantasy leagues. 

Some of the bets I'll suggest below are of the kind that I think likely to happen...others are riskier choices that may end up with a bigger payoff. What about bets that combine the two? You made those in your draft.

Trade For

Dan Haren has started to pick up a little velocity on his fastball, sitting at about 90mph for much of his most recent outing, while striking out five and walking none (interestingly, the third start this year in which he's performed that feat). Is he all the way back, or even definitively healthy. Well, no. This is one of those riskier options. If he takes off, he could be a bargain-bin ace. Or maybe he'll fall again. The trouble is that once you know for sure that he's on track he won't be on the trading block anymore.

Josh Reddick is finally on a hot streak, though he's striking out a ton and batting just .155 with one home run. Very disappointing for those who had dreams of another 30-HR season, which may already be out of reach. The good news is just .192 (last year it was .269). He's pounding the ball into the ground at a 39.6% rate (up 10% from last year!), and popping up 20% of the time. His HR/FB rate has dropped to just 4%. So why am I interested in getting this guy? Well, because these are all things the young hitter should be able to fix, and his current stretch of success might be suggesting that he already has.

Anthony Rizzo is a simple case of BABIP value, so if his owner is statistically inclined, don't expect to pry him away. If not, consider that his miserable .195 AVG will go up when his unsustainably bad .170 BABIP does. The homers are already among the league leaders, so an excellent season could well be in the making.

Lucas Duda remains unowned in a significant number of leagues (CBS: 70%/ESPN: 34%/Yahoo!: 24%), but his 17 walks are tied for fourth in baseball, and his .438 OBP sandwiches him in between Miguel Cabrera and Dustin Pedroia on the leaderboard. With five homers to go along with the on-base, I'm on board with trading for Duda, as he's looking like a relatively low-risk bet.

Pick Up

Andrew Cashner (CBS: 39%/ESPN: 2.4%/Yahoo!: 17%) is a strikeout machine and he appears to be in the rotation for good. He immediately becomes the Padres' best pitcher and he's a smart add for any fantasy team. Grab him while you can, because these low numbers are likely to spike in the next week.

David Phelps (CBS: 11%/ESPN: 0.1%/Yahoo!: 3%) will be slotting into the Yankees rotation. If he pitches well, he might even stick over Ivan Nova, though that isn't necessarily a given. He hasn't gotten good results out of the bullpen (ugly 5.29 ERA/1.47 WHIP), but he's been racking up strikeouts (22 K's in 17 IP). He's worth a try, especially in deeper leagues.

Carlos Ruiz (CBS: 50%/ESPN: 13%/Yahoo!: 21%) is coming back from his suspension, so nab him off the waiver wire if he's available. He mashed last year and, while he isn't incredibly likely to repeat those numbers at age 34, there's little reason not to give him a chance.

Trade Away

Matt Moore just won his fifth game of the season, and he's dealing to the tune of a 1.12 ERA, an 0.88 WHIP, and a 10.69 K/9. So why am I considering offering him up in trades? Because a young pitcher who was expected to do well, and is pitching amazingly can fetch a huge return. Am I betting against Moore breaking out and joining the aces this year. Not really, I think there's a great chance he does. But, as with Matt Harvey and Shelby Miller last week, I think Moore represents an opportunity to get even more value back than he'll give for the rest of the season.

Bryce Harper and Justin Upton are off to fantasy baseball's best starts and here I am recommending you send them packing. I wasn't high on Upton before the season began, I'll admit, but even I can see that he's not in line for another disappointing 17-HR campaign. But here's the thing: Upton won't be hitting 88 homers (his current pace), and Harper won't end up with 60, or a .374 average (probably). Both guys are superstars and both are having great months. There's no better time to trade them, especially with their level of youth and hype. Don't do it if you can't get an absolutely outrageous return, but I'd be willing to bet you can.

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Stock Watch: Sell High, Buy Low, Steal Healthy Guys

Finally! We now have data we can work with, understand, and safely extrapolate over the course of a full season.

Or...not. But we have gone on long enough that hot and cold streaks have lasted long enough to impact multiple weeks of fantasy play--not to mention the real standings, but why mention those here. The fantasy game is the real Big Show, after all.

Trade for These Guys

Giancarlo Stanton and Adam Dunn
Both of these guys are off to hideous starts, and both were expected to be among the HR leaders when the season started. Stanton, in particular, was supposed to be a cornerstone of many teams (most of mine, in fact), but he's produced just a single Run Scored for all four counting stats and just a .182 BA. Next to him, Dunn actually looks pretty good, with his two homers and his .105 average.

So, why trade for these guys? Because the power they had before the season still exists. Stanton has been dealing with nagging injuries that might scare off frustrated owners, but should explain away his struggles when combined with the caprices of the Gods of Small Sample Size. Speaking of sample size, it should be no surprise that Dunn has cold weeks. The fact that they're coming at the beginning of the season simply means you might be able to get a good deal on him. These two still have power that's almost unrivaled in baseball, and getting either at even a small discount would be a great idea for most teams.

Final bonus: Stanton may be traded at some time this season, and pretty much wherever he goes, he'll have a better lineup to drive in and offer him protection.

David Ortiz, Chase Headley, and Brett Lawrie
I shied away from this trio in drafts, as I wanted to avoid spending early picks on injured players. That didn't stop me from getting players like Corey Hart, Brian McCann, and Colby Lewis to stop up my DL slots like glue, but that's another story. This story is about how now is the time to trade for any of these three players.

The theory is this: when you spend the first weeks of a season without a particular player, you discover that you don't really need him. This lends owners to undervalue these nearly-healthy or newly-healthy players and overvalue their opportunity to finally get some use out of them via trade. It works particularly well if the owner has needs in other positions that can't be filled by the returning player. As Ortiz, Headley, and Lawrie come off the DL, it could be time to swoop in with a trade offer. Of course, this strategy won't work on every owner (it did on me last year)--some will cling to the returned player like he's their team savior. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

Julio Teheran
He was the trendiest Spring Star to draft in the final weeks of the season, as he mowed down everyone he faced and seemed to be finally building on his top-prospect talent. Now he's sporting an ERA of 7.31 and is owned in only 34% of Yahoo! leagues. The thing is, he's still the guy he was going into that amazing Spring Training: a high-level prospect pitching for a good team. He could right the ship, and if you nab him now the cost won't be more than a waiver claim in many leagues. If you do trade for him, you shouldn't be paying much. Any more and I don't really recommend going after him.

Waiver Claims and Free Agents

Last week, I spent several entire minutes explaining why Ted Lilly was a good pickup. Then the Dodgers installed Chris Capuano into their rotation and I rewrote it all at the last minute. Well, look who's starting now. Yeah, Lilly is the one who will get the starts for LA, even though the team doesn't seem convinced he's ready. Nab him now and leave him on your bench for a start or two, because if he is ready, he's probably still the above-average pitcher he used to be. If he isn't that guy, it will probably be apparent quickly and you can cut him loose.

I was looking over the list of pitchers by Yahoo! Rank (not the most scientific thing to do in the world, I know), and one guy stood out by ownership rates. Everyone around was in the 80's or 90's by percent owned. And then there was Carlos Villanueva, sitting right there at 17%. When someone on the waiver wire is ranked exclusively with the pitchers owned in nearly every league, it's time to take notice. Sure enough, Villanueva has pitched very well. If his next start weren't against the Reds, he'd be on two or three of my teams already. Monitor him for his next start and grab him up afterwards.

By the way, Villanueva's teammate Travis Wood looks pretty good so far too. Jeremy Guthrie and Zach McAllister are both pitching well also. Guthrie actually has some good history to back him up (though no history of help in strikeouts), but McAllister has more upside. If you need strikeouts, Felix Doubront is always great for those. He isn't much good for other things, though, like ERA and WHIP. Pitching for Boston and striking people out makes him a great choice for streaming.

As for hitters to pick up, Didi Gregorius is a great choice, as the prospect will be filling in for the injured Aaron Hill, as Cliff Pennington will move over to second base. He's already hit a home run, and any pop you can get midseason out of your SS or MI slot is great. Another interesting option is Nolan Arenado is lighting up the minor leagues, to the tune of a .417 average with three homers and 11 doubles. Chris Nelson and Josh Rutledge aren't exactly off to amazing starts, so Arenado might be able to force the Rockies to bring him up. If your league has a minors slot, pick him up. Even if not, he makes a very strong stash option right now.

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Well, it's not quite so urgent as that, but we've gotten to the point of the season where it might be possible to capitalize on some hot starts. Second basemen Ian Kinsler and Brandon Phillips are both tearing the cover off the ball, with five and four homers, respectively, BA's over .300 and double digits in runs and RBI. The only knock so far is that they have but one steal between them. Probably they're scoring before they even get the chance to steal. These starts aren't sustainable of course, unless they both post career years. Having the depth to deal either of these players away is unlikely, but if you do, now is a great time to reap extra value and let them settle back down to earth with a new owner.

Speaking of playing over your head, check out Matt Harvey and Shelby Miller. I like both for the rest of the season, but not nearly at the level they're doing now. Both are among the league's best pitchers so far, with miniscule ERA's, sub 1.00 WHIP's, and at least a strikeout per inning. As flamethrowing youngsters, you can expect enthusiasm for their season and careers to be high. As young pitchers, you can expect them to hit the occasional rough patch over the course of the season. Trade 'em now, enjoy the production of the steadier veterans you can get in return, and don't feel bad when they end up with good-but-not-ace numbers over the course of the season, probably with low IP totals.

Paul Maholm isn't exactly a top prospect, but he's having the best couple weeks of his life. He's been a pretty average pitcher for the better part of the last decade, and I don't think that's likely to chance in 2013. If you can find someone who does, deal Maholm away. If you can't, ride the wave while it lasts. 

Finally, we've got Jarrod Parker. I wasn't incredibly excited about Parker going into the year (I can't stand pitchers with low strikeout rates), but he was quite useful last year. Well, he's been horrible this year and I'm losing patience and the A's have Dan Straily waiting in the minors. If you can ship Parker off to an owner that buys into his youth and upside, do it. If you can't, don't be surprised if the A's cut him faster than you do.

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Stock Watch: Impulse Buying

The first week of the season is always the worst for me. Someone always gets injured (Ryan Ludwick owner here), an ace always gets pounded in his first start (mine was Adam Wainwright), and some closer is always ready to lose his job (John Axford on several teams). When you write expert analysis, it's even worse: might have publicly counseled against drafting Justin Upton, didn't say a word about Chris Davis.

You see, the first week is the worst for me, not just because my teams never fail to have a bad week, but also because you can't trust anything that happened in just one week. Why is Davis tearing the cover off the ball? I don't know. (But I wish he were on any of my teams.) Is Upton's week a sign that he puts it all together into superstardom this year? Maybe. Is Axford doomed to return from whence he came? (I sure hope not.) I can't say any of these things for sure, or even close, but seasons ride on early moves. Every year it seems like an impact player has a killer first week and never lets up, on the way to joining the elite at his position the next year. Think of the fantasy debuts of Dan Uggla, Ben Zobrist, and Jose Bautista. What if you could have snagged Chase Headley off the waiver wire last year. You have to make an impulse buy or three, even if it's just a wild stab in the dark.

Given this--that we're on the lookout for high-upside players at this point--here are some worthwhile buys going into Week 2. I'm not big on trading players this early in the season, so I'll focus on waiver wire pickups here.

Impulse Buys

Gerardo Parra, OF, ARI
Parra is owned in just 32% of Yahoo! leagues and 34% of ESPN leagues, but I'll wager that's about to change. He's running with his chance to impress in Arizona, hitting .458 while two of the outfielders ahead of him on the depth chart (Cody Ross and Adam Eaton) languish on the DL. If he can keep up the hitting, I don't see how they'll keep him out of the lineup.

Jean Segura, SS, MIL
Segura's batting an even .500 for the week, but is only owned in 30% of Y! leagues and a paltry 15% of ESPN leagues. As a prospect with a job, he started the year as a semi-interesting sleeper. Well, he's done about all he can to justify that interest. Any chance to get a shortstop with a live bat is a good idea.

Jose Fernandez, SP, MIA
RotoAuthority's own Peter Karinen wrote Fernandez up last week, so I won't do much more than echo his sentiments here. Fernandez is young and talented, but far from a sure thing, or even a solid bet. He's the sort of guy who is very likely to be dropped off a lot of teams after just a couple weeks...but he's also got the raw stuff to have a real chance of being an impact pitcher. He's worth a try, but don't drop anyone good to get him.

Franklin Gutierrez, OF, SEA
It's been a long time since we've seen him, but a healthy Gutierrez is a pretty decent player. Hitting nearly .400 with a pair of homers, it looks like the guy that gave the Mariners 18 HR's and 16 SB's in 2009 might have returned. He could be better than plenty of drafted fifth OF's.

Bargain Bin

Bartolo Colon, SP, OAK
Colon has finished his suspension and returned to Oakland. Will he be an impact guy? Obviously not. But he does stand a pretty good chance of being decent. In deep leagues, he's actually a pretty safe choice to add. He beat Houston in his debut (not that that tells us anything), and he walked just 23 batters in 152.2 IP last year.

Travis Wood, SP, CHC
Wood pitched extremely well against the anemic Pirates, and he's got just enough history of success to think that he might be useful if you're looking for a pitcher. Perhaps more to the point, he's slated for two starts next week, so owners in weekly changes leagues may be interested.

Luis Mendoza, SP, KCR
Mendoza whiffed seven Phillies in his debut, and that counts for something. Not terribly much, as his track record is nothing to speak of.

Chris Iannetta, C, LAA
Tyler Flowers, C, CHW
Wilson Ramos, C, WAS

These three catchers are all owned in fewer than 20% of Y! leagues, but all have a pair of homers and lofty batting averages. Making things more interesting is that all of them have shown just enough in previous seasons to register as possibly useful going forward. Flowers probably has the best combination of upside and team trust at this point.

Vernon Wells, OF, NYY
The Yankees already found Wells in the bargain bin (well, sort of) and he's off to a hot start. New York has little reason not to play the hot hand right now, so if Wells keeps hitting, he'll find the playing time. Who knows, maybe the Yanks really did like what they saw in Spring Training.

Sell...No One

Sorry, but it's way too early to start giving up on anyone. I'm not going to put anyone on this week's list to shuffle away from your team. Everyone will be too scared to trade for obvious overperformers like Chris Davis, and a single week's worth of data isn't nearly worth giving up on your top sleepers or shipping off struggling stars. Wait till next week for that.

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Stock Watch: 2012 Season in Review (Misses)

Last week's Stock Watch reviewed many of the best "Buy" / "Sell" recommendations of the year, and this week will review many of the worst "Buy" / "Sell" recommendations:

  • On April 13, Stock Watch recommended selling Fernando Rodney - "Closer injuries have been widespread early this season, and some owners are left short in saves. See if an owner is desparate enough to give you good value on Rodney before the inevitable blowups occur."  Rodney of course proceeded to have the lowest ERA ever by a qualifying reliever at .60 with 48 saves, a 0.78 WHIP and a 76/15 K/BB ratio in 74 2/3 innings.  Unbelievable.
  • On April 20, Stock Watch recommended buying Francisco Liriano - "He has shown improved velocity between starts (max velocity increasing from 92.7 to 93.3 to 95 in his three starts) despite horrible results this year - 11.91 ERA compared to 5.70 SIERA. If Liriano was cut by an impatient owner in your league, he is worth picking up and taking a chance on in a favorable home ballpark for pitchers."  Liriano was up and down, but mostly down, the rest of the season with a 4.83 ERA and awful 4.8 BB/9 rate (but an excellent 9.8 K/9 rate).  
  • On April 20, Stock Watch also recommended selling Jake Peavy - "Has been dominant this season in two of three starts, and avoided a bombing in his start at Texas. But he carries a massive injury risk and pitches in a park that balls will start flying out of when the Chicago heat sets in. I would inquire to see what you can get in trade for Peavy if you have an abundance of starting pitching, and see if you can turn the 235.0 ADP pick into a top-150 player. But, do not give Peavy away, as his average fastball velocity is up from 91.27 in 2011 to 92.12 in 2012."  Peavy kept rolling after April 20 with a 3.43 ERA and 9 wins.  Peavy proved an excellent late round draft pick in 12-team mixed leagues and enjoyed an unexpectedly healthy season.
  • On April 27, Stock Watch recommended buying Javy Guerra - "When other owners are zigging, you should be zagging. Following Guerra's blown save on Wednesday, many owners are looking to dump. But, Don Mattingly reaffirmed Guerra as the closer on Thursday. Also, Guerra's loss on Tuesday was caused by Matt Kemp not making a catchable play in center field, and on Wednesday, Guerra was singled to death by a very good Braves lineup. I like Guerra to have a decent amount of leash still as the closer given his success last year and excellent pitching before the Braves series, and I would be looking to get him when his value is far down. Guerra also showed the moxie of a closer by taking a wicked line drive off his chin on Wednesday and staying in the save situation."  Guerra lost the closer role almost immediately after this recommendation, and had no value the remainder of the season.  Lesson here is to draft talent and not roles where the back end of a bullpen is unsettled.
  • On May 4, Stock Watch recommended buying Jonathan Broxton - "Although widely doubted (including in this column), Broxton has been impressive in converting four straight saves and has a long leash as closer, with setup man Greg Holland on the DL. Owners should feel confident in Broxton's job security if targeting lower-tier closers in trade."  Broxton was traded to a set-up role with the Reds later in the season, and the lesson here is to be careful in targeting impending free agent closers for losing teams that may look to dump at the trading deadline.
  • On June 8, Stock Watch recommended selling 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."  Lohse kept on rolling after June 8 with a 2.67 ERA and 11 wins.
  • On June 15, Stock Watch recommended buying Ivan Nova - "His strikeout rate per nine innings has skyrocketed this season from 5.33 to 8.00, and he has collected eight wins pitching for the Yankees' powerhouse lineup.  A 3.53 SIERA gives hope that his 4.64 ERA will come down when his 16% HR per flyball ratio evens out closer to the 8.4% he had last season."  After June 15, Nova struggled with a 5.34 ERA and only 4 wins in 16 starts.  Lesson here is to be very hesitant in relying on AL East starters, particularly those pitching in the Yankees home park.
  • On July 27, Stock Watch recommended selling Matt Harvey - "After dominating the Diamondbacks Thursday night, Harvey is going to a popular name in fantasy circles this week.  Those owners in re-draft leagues that are fortunate enough to have claimed Harvey off waivers should be looking to sell to an owner that will overpay for rookie hype.  Harvey showed typical control issues for a young starter this year in Triple-A, as he walked nearly four batters per nine innings, and may initially struggle in the majors as he learns command.  Stock Watch also recommended selling Trevor Bauer in re-draft leagues for many of the same reasons. RotoAuthority's Mike Axisa recently warned about the Mets' poor defense potentially inflating Harvey's WHIP and ERA, as well."  Harvey dominated down the stretch with a 3.00 ERA and 9.8 K/9 rate after July 27.  Although relying on rookie pitchers is usually problematic, Harvey proved an exception with a strong rookie season.

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Stock Watch: 2012 Season in Review (Hits)

This week's Stock Watch's 2012 Season in Review will discuss many of the best "Buy" or "Sell" recommendations of the year:

  • On April 6, Stock Watch recommended buying Edwin Encarnacion - "Double-E was sandwiched in order between Jose BautistaAdam Lind and Lawrie. It's a good place to be."  Encarnacion was a fantasy MVP with 42 home runs, 110 RBIs, 13 stolen bases and a .280 batting average.
  • On April 27, Stock Watch recommended claiming off waivers Marco Estrada - "Available on most waiver wires in 12- and 14-team mixed leagues, Estrada has a 13.09 K/9 rate this season and is in the rotation -- and pitching against pathetic NL Central lineups -- following the injury to Chris Narveson. Estrada's SIERA was 3.29 last year and is currently at 1.70 on the young season. It will be interesting to see if he can carry this success as a starter, but he's worth a speculative add off the waiver wire to find out."  From April 27 to the end of the season, Estrada struck out a batter per inning with a 3.75 ERA.
  • On May 4, Stock Watch recommended claiming off waivers Ernesto Frieri - "Traded to the Angels and may find himself in the closer role in short order. Frieri has struck out 18 batters in 11 2/3 innings on the season with a 1.95 SIERA. Frieri also has closer experience as he saved 17 games in 2010 for the Padres' Triple-A affiliate with a 11.71 K/9 rate."  Frieri ended up running with the Angels' closer job and collected 23 saves.
  • On May 11, Stock Watch recommended selling 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."  Myers did end up being traded into a set-up role.
  • On May 18, Stock Watch recommended claiming off waivers 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."  Cabrera was a difference-maker as he ended up wining the National League stolen base crown.
  • On May 25, Stock Watch recommended buying Carlos Marmol - "Predictably, Rafael Dolis has been rocked recently and his hold on the closer job is more an indictment of the Cubs' bullpen than an earned position. Marmol is regaining his confidence and working his way back from a leg injury in the minor leagues, and I expect Marmol to regain the closer role very shortly after being activated. Stash Marmol on your DL or bench as the Cubs will want to increase Marmol's trade value by putting him back at closer."  Marmol was lights out as a closer after May 25 with a 2.66 ERA and 18 saves.
  • On June 1, Stock Watch recommended buying 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."  Goldschmidt was a fantasy beast from June through the rest of the season with 28 home runs and 22 steals.
  • On June 15, Stock Watch recommended selling Ricky Romero and his then 4.15 ERA - "Another AL East starter whose value is inflated by his sparkling numbers last season.  Romero is walking an unsightly 4.48 batters per nine innings this season while his strikeouts per nine innings are down from last season.  That is not a good combination, and owners thinking that Romero and his 4.15 ERA are a good buy-low trade target should think again. Romero's 4.79 FIP and 4.36 SIERA indicate that he is fortunate to have his ERA that low."  After June 15, Romero was a total disaster with a 7.11 ERA in 98 2/3 innings and only 2 wins.  Owners should not stick with struggling AL East starters, particularly ones that are walking a substantial amount of batters.  Stock Watch had also previously recommended selling Romero on May 18.
  • On June 22, Stock Watch recommended running to your waiver wire to claim Anthony Rizzo - "Per Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs can promote Rizzo tomorrow while still delaying his free agency from 2017 to 2018. Expect the Cubs to do so in the near future as Rizzo has nothing left to prove in AAA, as he hits .360 with 23 home runs and 59 RBIs in 261 plate appearances. In shallow leagues where Rizzo is available on the waiver wire pick him up immediately. In other leagues, see if the owner stashing Rizzo has a need you can fill and get Rizzo before he is activated and the hype makes him unattainable. Rizzo should enjoy immediate success having learned some tough lessons in San Diego last year, and stepping into a Wrigley Field that plays like a hitter's paradise with the wind blowing out in the hot summer air."  Rizzo enjoyed immediate success in Chicago, and Stock Watch was very bullish on him from the start.
  • On June 22, Stock Watch recommended buying Miguel Montero - "Finally coming out of a season-long funk, now is the time to buy Montero while his season stats still look poor.  In June, Montero has hit .302 with five home runs and 17 RBIs.  This is consistent with Montero's career in which April and May have been his worst hitting months. In the RotoAuthority League, I had a decision last week whether to deal Montero or MLB home run leader among catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia - I decided to move Salty."  Montero certainly turned his season around and hit .301 after June 22.
  • On June 29, Stock Watch recommended selling Trevor Bauer - "Despite posting excellent strikeout numbers and a low ERA in the minors this season, Bauer's 4.6 walks per nine innings mark is a red flag for his chances of enjoying immediate success in the Majors.  Bauer continued his wild ways by walking three batters in his four-inning debut. While Bauer's future is certainly bright, the 21-year old makes for an excellent sell candidate in re-draft leagues to an owner that is buying the rookie hype."  At this time Bauer was receiving a ton of hype.  Hopefully owners in re-draft leagues were able to quickly trade Bauer.
  • On July 13, Stock Watch recommended buying Mat Latos - "After giving up only two earned runs in his last three starts covering 25 innings, Latos is finally out of his season-long funk after an offseason trade to the Reds.  With a 4.13 ERA on the season, perhaps Latos can still be acquired on the relative cheap from a disgruntled owner that suffered through Latos' terrible start to the season. Last year Latos had a slow first half before compiling a 2.87 ERA and 1.00 WHIP after the All-Star break (however, the opposite was true in 2010).  Compared to last year, Latos is walking fewer batters and (predictably) giving up substantially more home runs with a HR/FB percentage that has nearly doubled after his move from the Padres to the Reds. Settling into his new surroundings, I expect Latos' second-half ERA to be in line with his current SIERA of 3.63, which is exactly half a run lower than his ERA."  After July 13, Latos rocked a 2.84 ERA and 7 wins.
  • The same July 13 Stock Watch recommended buying Max Scherzer - "Has the second highest K/9 innings rate (11.19) and the second highest BABIP (.349) among qualifying starters.  Scherzer has five straight quality starts that has brought his ERA all the down from a 5.88 mark on June 6 to its current 4.72.  Here is another starter that may have left owners who drafted him with a bad taste in their mouths after his slow start.  Scherzer's 3.08 SIERA shows the upside that exists with a BABIP correction despite pitching in front of the Tigers' poor defense."  After July 13, Scherzer had an incredible 2.69 ERA and 8 wins.  Lesson to learn here is that a strong strikeout rate with corresponding low SIERA is an indicator of good things to come.  Stock Watch also recommended buying Scherzer on May 11.
  • On July 13, Stock Watch recommended selling C.J. Wilson - "After enjoying a spectacular first half, now is the time for pitching-rich owners to see what they can get for this "ace" pitcher.  Wilson's strikeouts are way down (7.11 K/9 compared to 8.30 last year) and his walks are way up (3.96 BB/9 compared to 2.98 last year).  His success can be partly attributed to a .242 BABIP that is nearly forty points below his career average.  ZiPS projects a 3.48 ERA for the remainder of the season, which is far below his current 4.28 SIERA."  At this time, Wilson had a 2.43 ERA.  After the recommeded sell, Wilson imploded to a 5.74 ERA in 84 2/3 innings.
  • On July 20, Stock Watch recommended claiming on waivers Steve Cishek -
    "When Cishek was bypassed for a save chance on Monday for Mike Dunn, many owners figured that a closer committee was in place.  However, Cishek was dealing with a bout of the flu and all indications are that he should get the Marlins save chances going forward.  Recent trade rumors involving Heath Bell may further signal that the organization has soured on Bell and is ready to let Cishek run with the job."  Cishek was a solid closer for the rest of the season with 13 saves and a 3.80 ERA beginning July 20.
  • On July 27, Stock Watch recommended claiming on waivers Justin Ruggiano - "With Emilio Bonifacio shifting to second base after the trade of Omar Infante, Ruggiano should be in line for everyday at-bats. Ruggiano has both seven home runs and steals in only 137 plate appearances, and he showed a good power/speed combination for the Rays' Triple-A minor league club with 15 home runs and at least 23 steals in both 2009 and 2010."  Ruggiano ended up being a difference-maker for fantasy teams down the stretch and ended the year with 13 home runs, 14 stolen bases and a .313 batting average.

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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Last week's Stock Watch recommended starts for Andy Pettitte (6 shutout innings and a win), Eric Stults (quality start and a win) and Lance Lynn (one earned run and a win).  Hopefully the following recommendations for pickups over the last few days of the season are also successful:

  • A.J. Griffin - After rough starts at Detroit and New York, Griffin returns home to an excellent pitchers' park and gets the weak Seattle offense on Friday.  Griffin has 60 strikeouts to 15 walks on the season with a 2.80 ERA and 3.71 SIERA.
  • Dan Straily - Coming off a strong start in Texas, minor league strikeout machine Dan Straily gets Seattle's offense at home on Saturday.  Run, don't walk, to your computer to claim Straily as he is owned in only 9% of Yahoo leagues.
  • Tommy Milone - Notice a pattern?  Also pick up this Oakland starter for his Sunday start against the Mariners.  Milone has been incredible at home with a 2.68 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.
  • Erasmo Ramirez - Facing Milone on Sunday in Oakland, Ramirez has a .99 WHIP in 52 2/3 innings on the season, and is owned in only 3% of Yahoo leagues.
  • Marco Estrada - Owned in 29% of Yahoo leagues, Estrada gets the Astros offense on Saturday and should be claimed where available.  Estrada has struggled in two of his last four starts but still is averaging more than a strikeout per inning and has a 1.17 WHIP.
  • Anibal Sanchez - Dropped in many competitive 12-team mixed leagues after getting beat around in the American League, Sanchez threw a dominant complete game shutout in his last start and gets the Twins on the road on Sunday.
  • Josh Collmenter - For those in deep leagues that are desperate for starting pitchers to close out the season, Collmenter is worth a start on Sunday when he faces a Cubs teams that may lose 100 games this season.  Collmenter got the win and pitched well in his last start in San Francisco.
  • Stephen Drew - Owned in only 20% of Yahoo leagues, Drew has been hot in September with 4 HRs, 12 RBIs and a .295 AVG.  Drew also has a seven-game hitting streak that includes two four-hit games.
  • Andy Dirks - Also enjoying a hot streak with hits in 13 of his last 29 at-bats that includes a home run and four RBIs.  Dirks is starting every day for a Tigers team fighting for the playoffs, has a season batting average well over .300, and is owned in only 9% of Yahoo leagues.

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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

With under two weeks remaining for the season this week's Stock Watch will target players that are widely available on waivers and may provide a boost in the standings:

  • Starling Marte - Stole two bases on Thursday and has been hitting out of the leadoff spot since returning from injury.  Marte is owned in only 9% of Yahoo leagues, but he can provide a nice power, speed and runs boost down the stretch.  ZiPS even projects Marte to hit .290 for the remainder of the year.
  • Logan Forsythe - Qualifying at 2B and 3B in Yahoo leagues, Forsythe has quietly enjoyed an excellent September with 2 HRs, 10 RBIs, 15 runs and 3 steals.  Plug Forsythe in as an off-day replacement for your starting hitters at either 2B or 3B to make sure you use as many games played from these positions as possible.
  • Jason Bourgeois - Owners in daily leagues that are looking for speed should plug Bourgeois into lineups on days he is starting.  Bourgeois is a burner on the basepaths but does not provide much of anything else.  But many leagues are tight in steals with points to be earned quickly.  Bourgeois is only owned in 1% of Yahoo leagues.
  • Lonnie Chisenhall - Hitting .276 with 2 HRs in 32 plate appearances since returning from injury this month, Chisenhall is only owned in 3% of Yahoo leagues.  Chisenhall should provide decent power numbers with a serviceable batting average, and makes for another roster streaming option.
  • Chris Nelson - His ownership has creeped up to 26% in Yahoo leagues during his hot streak, but grab him in leagues where he remains on waivers.  With 2B and 3B eligibility, Nelson has raked in September with 3 HRs, 12 RBIs and 12 runs.  Nelson's 22.4 strikeout percentage will depress his batting average but ride the hot streak while it lasts.
  • Eric Stults - Starts on Sunday in San Francisco and has actually had a better pitching line on the road this year than at Petco with a 2.31 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.  Stults can be plugged into a RP slot in Yahoo leagues and is a good spot start option this weekend.
  • Lance Lynn - Dropped in most competitive leagues when he was banished to the bullpen, Lynn has pitched consecutive excellent starts for the Cardinals on their playoff push.  With a pitching matchup against Houston on Monday, Lynn should be claimed off waivers where available and started.
  • Andy Pettitte - Back from injury and looked good in his first start with five shutout innings and a victory.  Pettitte has been surprisingly effective this year given missing the entire 2011 season, and he should be picked up by owners looking for starters to fill out their available innings.  Pettittle should be in all lineups for his Monday start in Minnesota.

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