Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 11, Vol. 1

With Jim Henderson returning, it looks like Francisco Rodriguez’s days as Milwaukee’s closer are ending, though manager Ron Roenicke wants to get him his 300th save, making K-Rod an interesting play in Week 11. Meanwhile, Ike Davis, a guest on the waiver wire a few days ago, was just sent down to Triple-A, so despite my eternal optimism that he’ll figure things out eventually, he’s a safe cut in most leagues at least until he finds his way back to Queens.

Such are the trials of a life of dumpster-diving. Some players reward patience and faith will solid returns (thanks, Rick Porcello), while others kick you in the shins and make you look foolish at the same time (too many to count here). But the season has plenty of time left in it, and thus, plenty of waiver wire fodder to examine.

Cameron Maybin | San Diego Padres | OF | 19 percent Yahoo ownership; 22.2 percent ESPN; 27 percent CBS
YTD: 57 PA / .157 / .232 / .235 with 0 HR and 4 SB
ZiPS updated: 351 PA / .227 / .295 / .334 with 5 HR and 18 SB

For years, fantasy owners hoping for a breakout season from former super prospect Maybin has been something of an annual ritual. But after he hurt his right wrist in mid-April and landed on the disabled list for six weeks, his ownership levels dropped to fringe status by the time he returned to action last week. That’s not all that surprising, but now that he’s back, fantasy owners should keep in mind that Maybin is a stolen base machine and remains something of an upside guy.

On that first point, the steals are legit, with 66 of them over the past two seasons. The wrist injury, of course, shouldn’t affect his speed, so there’s little reason to believe that he won’t be back to his kleptomania from the get-go. (He had four steals in three games entering Sunday’s action.)

As for being an upside guy, it might be a bit hard to believe for someone who’s seemingly been around forever, but Maybin just celebrated his 26th birthday, meaning he still has plenty of prime seasons left if he can figure out major league pitching

I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve already slapped the “bust” button on this guy after a lifetime .248 / .312 / .368 line in nearly 1,800 major league plate appearances, but Maybin did manage to hit .283 in the second half last year after making a significant change to his swing.

We won’t know for at least a few weeks how that new swing translates to success in 2013, and there’s still reason to be concerned about that right wrist, since it’s an injury that’s apparently bothered him for two years. But for a former 10th overall draft pick who already delivers solid results in the steals department, I bet more than a few owners are overlooking Maybin’s potential offensive upside. In a deep league, he’s an attractive addition off the waiver wire.

Recommendation: Just a steals option right now in mixed leagues, but keep an eye on his bat.

Rex Brothers | Colorado Rockies | RP | 37 percent Yahoo ownership; 63.6 percent ESPN; 39 percent CBS
YTD: 27.2 IP / .33 ERA / 8.8 K/9 / 5.2 BB/9 with 2 saves
ZiPS updated: 69 IP / 2.44 ERA / 10 K/9 / 5.3 BB/9

Back in April, waiver wire brother Jack Weiland pounced on Colorado’s bullpen, as he questioned how long Rafael Betancourt would hang on as the Rockies’ closer after a bad start to the year. Well, six weeks later, Jack’s reservations were well-founded, since Betancourt is on the disabled list with a groin injury and isn’t expected to be back until late June at the earliest.

So for those of you who need saves, meet Mr. Brothers, or, as I like to call him, the Rex of the Rox. (Rox’s Rex also works, though that apostrophe looks a bit out of place). Brothers, a lefty, must be afraid of bats, because he avoids them with great frequency, evidenced by a lifetime 11.2 K/9 and 13.3 swinging-strike rate. He also maintains a very good groundball rate, a 19.1 percent line drive rate is very reasonable, and he’s yet to allow a home run so far in 2013.

On the converse side of things, the walks are concerning, since a lifetime 4.8 BB/9 has gotten worse this year thanks to Brothers yielding free passes to more than five batters per nine innings. The situation hasn’t gotten any better since the 25-year-old took over the closer’s gig at the beginning of this month, with five walks issued in just four innings.

How much that has to do with an average fastball velocity that’s two miles below the 95-mph mark he maintained in 2011-12, I can’t be sure, other than to note the decrease. And while Brothers’ ERA is microscopic, that’s largely the byproduct of an otherworldly 97.1 percent strand rate, which would have to fall significantly just to be considered charitable.

On the front-office side of things, I’m not the first one to bring up the fact that Betancourt, 38, could be a prime trade candidate if the Rockies fall out of the race, though the team was just two games back in the NL West heading into Sunday.

I’m not especially confident that the team will hang in there for the long haul, but if they’re competitive, they might not shop Betancourt as actively as they would under different conditions. On the other hand, let’s say they are shopping Betancourt as an experienced closer. Wouldn’t the Rockies consider giving him back the ninth inning in July to show that he still can finish games for a contending team?

Unlike, say, home runs or RBIs, only certain players are in a position to earn saves, so if you need them, pick up Brothers (which you’ve probably already done). But just keep in mind that he’s not certain to be the team’s closer indefinitely.

Recommendation: He’s among the best cheap save candidates out there right now, even if his long-term outlook is uncertain.

Adam Lind | Toronto Blue Jays | 1B | 25 percent Yahoo ownership; 41 percent ESPN; 46 percent CBS
YTD: 175 PA / .342 / .423 / .523 with 5 HR and 1 SB
ZiPS updated: 509 PA / .298 / .366 / .483 with 18 HR and 2 SB

You’d think that a guy who was smacking the ball around as well as Lind would find more love from the fantasy baseball community, but such are the depths to which his stock fell after a dreadful 2012 campaign. Apparently, for many last year erased the memories of the 28 home runs and 91 RBIs he averaged from 2009 through 2011, because that kind of track record should make Lind a no-brainer pickup now that he’s back to playing well.

Some people may be turned off by the crazy .393 BABIP, because they know it’s certain to plummet and take his outstanding batting average with it. But there’s no hiding a decent line-drive rate and a HR/FB rate that’s a tad low given his career norm, especially when one realizes that the 13.1 percent clip at which he’s walking represents a vast improvement over past seasons.

All of which is a long way of saying I think Lind will finish with numbers closer to that sparkling three-year average as opposed to a player who was demoted to Triple-A at one point last year. Lind isn’t a superstar, and first base is hardly the most difficult position to fill in fantasy, but here’s a guy who’s playing well and seems available in far too many fantasy leagues.

Recommendation: Lind is back to being a mixed-league option.

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