AL Waiver Wire: Week 9

Michael Saunders | Seattle Mariners | OF | ESPN: 13.7 percent ownership, Yahoo: 17 percent ownership
YTD: .277/.346/.462
Oliver ROS: 45 R, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 10 SB, .220 AVG

With 18 hits in his last eight games, including seven of the extra-base variety, I’m guessing Saunders has already been picked up in most competitive leagues. If he hasn’t been in yours though, this is your notice: Go pick him up! With six homers and nine steals already on the season, Saunders has surprising power and speed. Plus, with his recent hot streak he’s been moved up from eighth to sixth in the lineup, which should only increase his RBI opportunities.

The only area where Saunders will struggle is batting average, where his current .277 mark is probably at its peak. Oliver projects a .218 average the rest of the way, which seems a bit harsh, but as long as he can hit around .240, his production elsewhere should make up for it. I don’t think a .240 average is asking so much. Even Drew Stubbs can do that.

Interestingly Saunders has an extreme home/road split this season (.185 average 0 homers at home, .301 average and 6 homers on the road). Safeco is no hitters haven but the difference should be nowhere this extreme and is likely mostly just a small sample fluke. Still, the Mariners have their next nine games at home so it will be an interesting test to see if his hot streak can continue there.

Saunders has likely been playing over his head the past week, but as is the case with most hot streaks, the best course of action is to add the player, hope it lasts as long as possible, and trade him if you can get something of value in return. Saunders’ streak is no different.
Recommendation: Should be added in all leagues.

Sean Doolittle | Oakland A’s | RP | ESPN: 0.2 percent ownership, Yahoo: 0 percent ownership
YTD (minors): 0.72 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 2.52 BB/9, 17.3 K/9
Oliver ROS: 3.75 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 9.3 K/9

Doolittle has logged all of 27 innings in his professional career, and yet he’s already in the majors and being recommended as a fantasy pickup. However, his path to the majors wasn’t nearly as deliberate as that innings total suggests, since Doolittle is actually a converted first baseman and began pitching essentially this year.

Beginning the season in Single-A, he threw 10 innings there while striking out 21, walking just two, and allowing one run. After another 11 innings at Double-A Midland and four in Triple-A with similar success, the A’s decided to add Doolittle to their major league ‘pen.

On Tuesday he made his first appearance against the Rangers and faced four batters, here’s the play log:

N. Cruz struck out swinging
M. Napoli struck out swinging
Y. Torrealba struck out looking
C. Gentry lined out to first

It was an impressive first appearance, against a couple of tough hitters no less. For now Doolittle will fall into a middle relief role, but the A’s bullpen is likely to be shaken up in the coming month. Grant Balfour is very likely to be traded and current closer Brian Fuentes, even if not traded, doesn’t look like he’ll hold on the job much longer. If those moves occur, Doolittle will find himself on a short list of possible closing candidates for the A’s. And even if he doesn’t close, he may simply be valuable enough to own because of his ERA and strikeout numbers alone.
Recommendation: Should be owned in AL-only leagues, deep mixed leagues, and by anyone looking to speculate on saves.

Travis D’Arnaud | Toronto Blue Jays | C | ESPN: 0.2 percent ownership, Yahoo 1 percent ownership
YTD (AAA): .321/.374/.584
Oliver ROS: .252/.300/.443

In his first year at Triple-A, the 23 year old d’Arnaud is proving his worth with a .321 average, 13 home runs and a strikeout rate below 20 percent. Granted, this is one of those PCL “grain of salt” lines, but his 143 wRC+ shows that he’s still hitting 43 percent better than the average PCL hitter. I consider this impressive.

Is it impressive enough to warrant a call-up? With catchers the answer is especially tricky considering you never really know if a team considers a catcher defensively ready. At least John Sickels praised d’Arnaud’s defensive abilities in his write-up of him last year. A lot of the answer to that question though is dependent on the man currently catching for the Jays: J.P. Arencibia
.

At first glance fantasy owners may see Arencibia’s nine homers, 29 RBI and think he’s been a valuable catcher, but the Jays front office is probably looking more at his .267 OBP and 0.5 WAR and showing concern. If the Blue Jays are serious about contending this year, it might make sense to call up d’Arnaud sooner rather than later.

I don’t think anything is particularly imminent here, but give it another couple of weeks of mediocre Arencibia play and then start to listen for the promotion grumblings. d’Arnaud doesn’t need to be added in most leagues yet, but if you’re in a two catcher league with George Kotteras as your second catcher as I do, D’Arnaud can be a good player to stash away if you have the room.
Recommendation: Worth stashing in 2-catcher AL-only and mixed leagues where there’s a need.

Ben Revere | Minnesota Twins | OF | ESPN: 1.6 percent ownership, Yahoo: 4 percent ownership
YTD: .307/.337/.409
Oliver ROS: .274/.313/.329

Ben Revere will bat either first or second for the Twins and therefore should score ample runs. Ben Revere will also hit for at least a .270 average but could push a .300 average too with a little luck. Yes, it will be an empty batting average. Ben Revere will also steal 20-something bases the rest of the season.

Now let’s see what Ben Revere won’t do. He won’t drive many batters in, and certainly he won’t put many baseballs over the fence. To sum it up, Revere is your standard three-cat contributor, which isn’t bad for a fourth or fifth outfielder on most teams.

Playing time used to be a major concern for Revere, whose spot in right field has been filled with an odd bunch of players this season. This bunch included Clete Thomas, Trevor Plouffe, Ryan Doumit, Erik Komatsu and Darin Mastroianni to name names. Mastroianni is the only one to actually play in right field the past few weeks, though, and his slugging percentage is currently the same as his batting average: .152. I hope that paints the picture of his ineffectiveness.

Revere, on the other hand, has been rather effective, slapping 20 singles in 23 games and almost never striking out (6.3 K percentage). He also plays tremendous defense, which can only help to keep his bat in the lineup. Twins center fielder Denard Span is widely considered to be a trade deadline mover, and if he gets traded that will open up center field and even more guaranteed playing time for Revere.

There’s not much upside here, but Revere isn’t likely to hurt you with his play, either. Any team light on steals should have no problem adding him.
Recommendation: Should be added in AL-only and 14+ mixed leagues. For anything shallower, the team should have a specific stolen base need.

Brandon Moss | Oakland A’s | 1B/OF | ESPN: 0 percent ownership, Yahoo: 0 percent ownership
YTD (AAA): .286/.371/.582
Oliver ROS: .243/.310/.431

The latest victim in the A’s revolving door of mediocrity at first base was Kila Ka’aihue, presenting an opportunity for the 28-year-old Moss. In Triple-A this year he batted .286 with 15 home runs, good for a 146 wRC+. Most importantly, he also cut his strikeout rate to a tidy 18 percent.

Expectations aren’t very high for Moss, but its worth noting that Oliver likes what he sees, projecting a .243 average and 21 home runs given a full season of at-bats. Given that he will also play nearly every day for a week at least, Moss should be an intriguing add for those in deeper leagues where at-bats are a currency of their own.
Recommendation: Can be added in deep AL-only leagues, and 16+ team mixed.

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Comments

  1. Morgan Conrad said...

    There’s a small problem problem with Sean Doolittle.  In standard ESPN leagues, he is only qualified at 1B!

  2. Brad Johnson said...

    Do you get pitching stats if you start him?

    Which brings up another question, how would a fantasy league treat an actual pitcher/position player. At some point we will see one.

  3. Brad Johnson said...

    I suppose the obvious answer is a flex (P or UTIL) spot although I don’t think most major sites support that yet.

  4. Joel said...

    The thing with d’Anaurd is that he has insane trade value. I suspect that if there is a serious contention mindset, Travis would be the key piece in a trade for another type of impact player. Keep in mind, J.P. Has developed a rapport with his team and pictchers as well as a bit of a leadership role. If you trade that away from a contending team and put that responsibility on a rookie catcher who doesn’t know a team as well, it may sink the ship.

    Yes, Travis will be a better player in the next couple of years (or sooner), but I don’t think it he will be that type of player with the Blue Jays organization in 2012.

  5. Paul Singman said...

    That’s a very fair point, Joel. I suppose the most likely trade destination could be Chicago in a Garza deal. In that case D’Arnaud probably would be a September call-up at best. But a lot of things are possible, all I can say is his bat seems major league ready.

  6. Rudy said...

    @Joel: Jays won’t trade d’Arnaud BECAUSE of his skillset. Most clubs don’t require an offensive minded catcher, but the bonus with d’Arnaud is that he provides that high upside offensive ability. Arencibia would be the odd man out.(However, I do see them keeping J.P. and trading Mathis because he is expendable.) Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson are FA in 2013 and both have $12-$13MM options which likey won’t be picked up by the team. While E3’s defensive value is limited, his production would be difficult to replace and Kelly Johnson doesn’t warrant Dan Uggla $$$$. Both would likely be traded before a whisper of trading d’Arnaud surfaces. The Jays will be looking to add a 2B in the offseason anyways, therefore I can see an Arencibia for Zobrist trade a possibility, or a Yunel Escobar for Zobrist trade as another possibility. Both Escobar and Zobrist are a FA’s in 2014. Heck, I’d trade both Arencibia and Escobar to the Rays for Zobrist and a RP (either Farnsworth or Peralta.) This would allow the Jays to promote SS Adeiny Hechavarria who is a plus+plus defender and an above average bat and let Johnson walk while obtaining a solid 2B/OF, bullpen depth (cause they need it), and offer E3 an extension or qualifying offer. But in NO WAY will they trade d’Arnaud!

  7. nolan said...

    I don’t see the Rays trading Ben Zobrist any time soon. Where would Joe Maddon be without him? The Sean Rodriguez/Matt Joyce platoon only works when you have a 2B/RF like Zobrist.

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