Waiver wire faithful, you may not be aware of this, but my cohort Karl de Vries here is an avid fan of the New York Mets. I happen to like the Cubs. (Insert joke about how that’s led to a natural interest in waiver dumpster diving.)
So it is with immense pleasure that I abuse the privilege of writing for The Hardball Times (which is just a great place, in spite of me) to point out that the Cubs won their series against the Mets this weekend and would have swept them were it not for a garbage walk-off home run by Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Better luck next time, Karl! Time to dive into the wire, but first let’s look at some players who have appeared in this space recently.
Corey Kluber threw eight innings of one-run ball Sunday and remains a guy I like.
Logan Morrison has missed time recently with lower-back stiffness, although the team expects him back in the lineup Monday. The injuries are frustrating since he could have real value if he could stay on the field.
Tyler Chatwood returned from his triceps injury and will remain in the Rockies rotation for the time being.
Today let’s look at three potential outfield pickups.
Wil Myers | Tampa Bay Rays | OF | ESPN: 56.2 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 38 percent; CBS: 81 percent
ZiPS projection: .253/.317/.444 in 558 plate appearances
The Rays made the long-awaited call to bring up Wil Myers over the weekend, and his ownership levels already have soared. After a slow start this season, Myers has picked it up lately, hitting .283/.354/.514 in Triple-A after posting a .304/.378/.554 triple slash last year at Triple-A and a sparkling .343/.414/.731 triple slash at Double-A in 2011.
It’s difficult to make the case that Myers is not ready for the majors. Despite his struggles this season, he’s now had almost a full year of plate appearances at the highest level of the minors and has hit .286/.366/.505 while there. Most of that success came last season, but it’s also understandable to see a 22-year-old kid play somewhat unmotivated baseball when he knows he’s ready for the next level, so I’m not too worried about Myers’ performance this season. He has enough of a track record.
Recommendation: If you haven’t missed the boat on Myers, act now. If you can trade with an owner who thinks he may be cashing in at the apex of Myers’ value, you should pursue that.
Marlon Byrd | New York Mets | OF | ESPN: 3.1 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 3 percent; CBS: 6 percent
YTD: .253/.311/.494 in 181 plate appearances
ZiPS projection: .256/.302/.372 in 372 plate appearances
Now we come to the part of today’s column where I recommend adding Marlon Byrd, which is as strange for me to write as anything I’ve published here all season.
As mentioned earlier, I’m a Cubs fan, and way back in 2010 I really fancied Byrd. The team had signed him cheaply, he provided plus defense in center field, and his bat was respectable. In 2011, he got beaned in the face, his defense wasn’t as strong, and his bat was far worse (from a .343 wOBA in 2010 to .317 in 2011).
Last season, he was about as bad at baseball as one could possibly be (for a major league ballplayer, that is), the Cubs dealt him to the Red Sox, and he then was slapped with a PED suspension that seemingly shattered any value he had left. The guy was done. Cooked. Gone.
Last offseason he signed with New York, though, put together a strong spring training, and won the Mets job in right field to open the season. To the astonishment of many, he hasn’t relinquished it because he’s simply been too good.
Byrd’s offensive numbers are back where they were in 2010 with a wOBA of .342. His ISO is the highest it’s ever been, at .241. Much of that has to do with an unsustainable home run rate of 20 percent, and it is worrisome that he’s hitting only 13.8 percent line drives, but there is clear offensive value here.
Recommendation: Byrd is still just 35 years old, has power and patience in his offensive profile, and will play good enough defense to keep his name on the lineup card for the time being. I cannot believe I’m doing this as I type it, but Byrd is worth owning again. Can’t predict baseball, I guess.
Mike Carp | Boston Red Sox | OF | ESPN: 36.8 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 19 percent; CBS: 33 percent
YTD: .320/.372/.680 in 113 plate appearances
ZiPS projection: .287/.345/.541 in 366 plate appearances
Every week when I look for subjects to write about, I look as much for players to caution against as I do for players to add. So when I saw Mike Carp’s ownership go through the roof this week on CBS, I knew I’d probably end up writing about him.
Carp’s ownership rate jumped from four percent to 30 percent over the past week, in part because of an injury to first baseman Mike Napoli, and in part because the journeyman’s power production has been otherworldly thus far in 2013.
I’m not buying here, for two reasons.
First and foremost, the Red Sox say they are “pretty confident” Napoli did not receive a concussion from the ball that hit him in the face (despite having the symptoms of one). Teams have been wrong about these things before, but if Napoli doesn’t have a concussion, he surely will be back soon, relegating Carp back to the bench in the process.
Even if Napoli does have a concussion, there’s a real chance he could be back soon anyway. In short, I’m not buying an extended absence for Napoli as of yet, and without one, Carp’s value is pretty minimal. This is especially true because …
Beyond that, I’m not buying the power, at least to this extent. Carp’s current ISO of .359 is downright Ruthian, and while Carp does have better-than-average power, there’s virtually no chance that he’s turned into the best power hitter in the history of the game overnight.
Carp’s highest ISO at any stop of his professional career before this season was .307, which he posted as a 25-year-old in the Pacific Coast League. His next highest was a .259 mark the season before, also in the PCL. His major league ISO, in 721 plate appearances spread across five partial seasons, is .190—good, but not great.
His .359 mark this year likely benefits from a HR/FB rate that’s far above his career average (26.7 percent vs. 15.9 percent). It does bear mentioning, however, that of his eight home runs this season, Hit Tracker Online has five of them listed as “Plenty,” along with one “No Doubt” and two “Just Enough.” Carp’s triple slash also benefits from a BABIP of .391, which very likely will drop, and in turn will lower his numbers across the board.
Recommendation: Carp’s value to date has been based too much on factors out of his control (health of other players and luck), and I just don’t see enough upside here unless you’re very desperate for a short-term fill-in.