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Monday, June 17, 2013
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.
Luis Valbuena's triple slash is at .237/.354/.414, and although he's still splitting time with Cody Ransom, he's provided value where most saw none at third base in Chicago.
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.
Brandon McCarthy has resumed throwing, and reportedly his shoulder feels good. He could be back sooner than many think and will be a nice pickup upon his return.
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.
His call to The Show has been a long time coming, as Hardball Times Prospect Guru Jeff Moore dug into a couple of weeks ago:
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.
Posted by Jack Weiland at 3:06am
One would expect, considering the nature of this column, that this space would be occupied by words of glowing praise for Wil Myers. Heck, even I thought I would write about Myers this week.
His upside is absolutely worth rostering in any league, and he's one of the top prospects in baseball, but I feel pretty confident that there's already plenty of Myers analysis out there for you to enjoy. Also, a conversation I had with THT Fantasy's own Jeffrey Gross on my podcast this week has been on my mind for days, and I feel the need to dig into it.
This week, a spry youngster by the name of Roy Oswalt is expected to be called up from Double-A Tulsa to join the Colorado rotation. While the 35-year-old is certainly a bit old for the level, he has been utterly fantastic, prompting the Rockies to make the call.
Oswalt, who was rated as the #13 overall prospect by Baseball America in 2001, may not have that shiny prospect status he used to, but he still could provide plenty of value for the Rockies and fantasy owners. In his last three starts for Tulsa, Oswalt has tossed 22.1 innings, allowing just four earned runs with a terrific 16:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His last start was especially good, as he pitched 8.1 scoreless innings, scattering five hits and one walk while striking out seven.
When Oswalt signed his minor-league contract with the Rockies last month, few expected him to make an impact this season after his rough stint with Texas last year that ended with a demotion to the bullpen. It sure didn’t help matters that Oswalt would be pitching half his games in hitters' haven Coors Field this season, if he even reached the majors at all. However, there are now plenty of reasons to be optimistic about his potential 2013 contributions.
Last year with the Rangers, Oswalt was pretty bad on the surface, with an ugly 5.80 ERA and a WHIP over 1.50 in 59 innings. However, even a cursory glance at the underlying numbers makes it obvious that he was getting tremendously unlucky. His FIP for the season was 4.23, and his xFIP was even better at 3.27. Also, he struck out a batter an inning and issued just 1.68 walks per nine innings. In fact, his 5.36 K/BB ratio was the best he’d posted since way back in 2001, his rookie season.
The reason Oswalt’s surface stats were so bad last year is a combination of three factors. His strand rate of 67 percent was the worst of his career, his .378 opponents’ BABIP was another career-worst, and the same can be said of his insane 18.6 percent home run-to-flyball ratio.
Please stop yourself before you get all smart and say, “Of course he gave up all those dingers! He was pitching in Arlington! That place is a bandbox! Why should we expect him to be better in Coors?!” Of the eleven homers Oswalt served up last year, just three of them came at home, further underscoring the notion that he was simply experiencing some terrible luck.
His velocity is reportedly up considerably, sitting around 92 and topping out at 95. Since July of 2010, Oswalt has thrown exactly one major league pitch that hit 95 on the radar gun. If his velocity is seriously back to the level it was at three years ago and not just the product of a juiced Double-A ballpark radar gun, this could be exciting.
Oswalt himself has said he feels much better about his chances this year than last year, saying that the Rangers “rushed me a little bit getting me up” last season, while the Rockies “have a better plan, and I feel like I’m a lot more ahead of the game than I was last year.” When you take into context that he didn’t even really pitch that badly last year, it’s an encouraging sign.
Will Oswalt return to his All-Star form from the mid-2000s? It’s incredibly unlikely, but it also wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he’s owned in the majority of fantasy leagues by season’s end. This is a guy with a 3.28 career ERA in 2,213 innings who, because of one “bad” 59-inning sample from last year in Texas, is suddenly an afterthought and a has-been. Kick the tires on Oswalt; you might find more air in them than you expect.
Posted by Scott Strandberg at 3:02am
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