Waiver Wire

American League by Rob McQuown

Brad Bergesen | Baltimore | SP
YTD: 4.3 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 4.04 ERA
True Talent: 3.3 K/9, 1.2 K/BB, 5.74 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 4.2 IP, 0.2 wins, 2 K, 6.34 ERA
Bergesen is very difficult to rate; to scope things, though, we’ll note up front that he’s potentially valuable only in AL-only leagues, and then only certain weeks (i.e., when he’s not up against the high-octane offenses). His “True Talent” isn’t hot, but he did have a 3.5 K:BB ratio in his minor-league career despite low K numbers. Also, he keeps the ball down (53% GB%, 0.7 HR/9 career minors). The O’s slick fielding will continue to bring him “sometimes” success.

Yuniesky Betancourt | Seattle | SS
YTD: .243/.271/.322
True Talent: .272/.299/.383
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, .272 BA, 0.3 SB
Normally, we like to highlight guys to pick up, but in this case, “YuBet” is causing panic. Some players respond to “conversations about work ethic,” but we’re not holding our breath. Betancourt’s fielding this year is his worst ever (.695 RZR/11 OOZ, +/- is already at -12 runs), and both measures are worst among full-time shortstops. Cedeno has stunk even worse, but expect some change soon—maybe slick-fielding Osvaldo Navarro, who is back in the organization and has a .386 OBP at Double-A.

Jose Contreras | Chicago | SP
YTD: 4.8 K/9, 4.1 K/BB, 6.45 ERA
True Talent: 5.3 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 5.25 ERA
Next Week Forecast: N/A
Contreras was originally expected to miss half the season after injuring his Achilles last year; instead, he went on an offseason workout binge and entered camp in such great shape that many spoke of his physique with awe. He continued to surprise by showing his old nasty stuff, with Ozzie commenting that his stuff looks the best that he has seen from him. Expect more hiccups, but we’re going to bypass that True Talent line and suggest that, come August/September, Contreras could be a top-tier starter.

Vin Mazzaro | Oakland | SP
YTD: 3.3 K/9, 1.3 K/BB, 0.00 ERA
True Talent: 4.5 K/9, 1.1 K/BB, 5.40 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 4.1 IP, 0.3 wins, 3 K, 5.72 ERA
Another week, another young A’s pitcher who’s all the craze. Winner of Texas League (Double-A) Pitcher of the Year in 2008, Mazzaro hit the ground running this year in Triple-A as well (2.40 ERA, great peripherals). Mazzaro throws hard, but like Fausto Carmona, he probably won’t ever have the Ks to show for it, as he strives for groundouts. Expect the A’s great defense to make Mazzaro a viable option against Chicago, KC, and Seattle, even in shallow mixed leagues.

Lyle Overbay | Toronto | 1B
YTD: .301/.406/.568
True Talent: .272/.355/.453
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, .275 BA, 0.1 SB
The Toronto Blue Jays this year are collectively telling True Talent to “Take a hike, eh!” Cito’s magic has transformed the 4.0-RPG team that he inherited up to well over 5 RPG. Overbay has always hit RHP better, and his rate stats this year are helped by having only 23 PA against LHP. He’s a .286/.381/.468 career hitter versus RHP, and we’re sold on the “Cito bump,” thinking that Overbay will exceed even that line. He should be better than a “filler” in most formats.

Scott Podsednik | Chicago | OF
YTD: .296/.353/.387
True Talent: .266/.328/.358
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, .261 BA, 0.8 SB
2005 postseason hero “Scotty Pods” is back on the South Side! How thoughtful of the team to leave the lead-off spot “vacant” until he returned. Ozzie will have tough decisions when Quentin is back, since even when Pods regresses, they need him leading off (never thought we’d say that…). Expect a 25-SB pace and batting stats better than his “True Talent,” since Podsednik will be rested (and also get to avoid the toughest LHP).

Aaron Poreda | Chicago | RP/SP
YTD: 9.7 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 2.39 ERA (Double-A)
True Talent: N/A
Next Week Forecast: N/A
We are tripling up on White Sox this week, as the team has so many changes with significant players lately. We’re guessing that this trip to the majors is just “intermission” for Poreda, helping to keep his IP down before a deserved promotion to Triple-A. Poresa can touch 100 MPH, and he had 50% GB% in Double-A. For keeper leagues, Poreda is an elite SP prospect and worth bidding as such. It would take a big break for him to be useful this year, though.

Jason Vargas | Seattle | SP
YTD: 5.4 K/9, 2.3 K/BB, 2.35 ERA
True Talent: 6.6 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 4.43 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 wins, 4 K, 4.43 ERA
Once a highly regarded prospect, Vargas has always allowed far too many homers, a tendency that’s discounted by most projection systems. Still, his tendency is in the right park, with an exceptional trio of outfielders (.948 RZR, 126 OOZ catches). And YuBet’s awful defense hurts him less. With no offensive support, plus the home runs, Vargas is only a “some weeks” guy in AL-only leagues.

National League by Michael Street

Mike MacDougal | Washington | RP
YTD: 7.4 K/9, 1.0 K/BB, 4.91 ERA
True Talent: 7.9 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.18 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.9 Saves, 4.31 ERA
In the Nationals’ “Flavor of the Week” bullpen, MacDougal is not an appetizing selection. His career numbers, True Talent rates, and YTD stats all show that he can throw strikes; he just doesn’t know when they’re coming. Manny Acta has hinted that MacDougal won’t be closing for long, so he is a short-term pickup for NL-only leagues, and any team that needs saves without strong ratios.

Carlos Gonzalez | Colorado | OF
YTD: .222/.333/.333
True Talent: .262/.307/.411
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, .260 BA, 0.2 SB
Time is running out on this former top prospect who’s now in his third organization. After torching the minors (.339/.418/.630), Gonzalez will get the chance to stick in LF. He doesn’t hit lefties well (.764 versus .901 against RHP), and he still needs to prove that he can hit major-league pitching, so he could platoon. Only NL leagues deeper than 14 teams should think about Gonzalez, but every owner should watch to see if this talent finally arrives.

Matt Maloney | Cincinnati | SP
YTD: 6.0 K/9, 4.0 K/BB, 3.00 ERA
True Talent: N/A
Next Week Forecast: N/A
When Edinson Volquez hit the DL, the Reds brought up Maloney, who has been lighting up the minors (7.8 K/9, 6.4 K/BB, 2.01 ERA). Don’t let the strikeout numbers fool you—Maloney is more finesse than power, so he has to control his three pitches well to succeed. He’ll have to fight to stick in the rotation when Volquez returns, but owners needing pitching in 12-team NL leagues or 15-team mixed leagues can ride him until then.

Leo Nunez | Florida | RP
YTD: 8.1 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 3.10 ERA
True Talent: 7.3 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 3.68 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 saves, 4.02 ERA
Nunez collected two saves when Lindstrom couldn’t shut the door for the Fish. And even though Fredi Gonzalez insists that there has been no changing of the guard, that vote of confidence will disappear if Lindstrom maintains his 7.0 BB/9 rate. Until then, Nunez will help your ratios and K, making him a mandatory insurance policy for Lindstrom owners, and a strong roster addition for NL-only teams and any deep league where you’re speculating on saves.

Laynce Nix | Cincinnati | OF
YTD: .268/.324/.553
True Talent: .254/.310/.478
Next Week Forecast: 0.8 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, .257 BA, 0.1 SB
Nix’s potential has always been hampered by his inability to take a pitch (0.18 BB/K career). He has boosted that figure this year to .27 BB/K, but that rate (and his True Talent) shows what he’ll do to your BA. Still, he’ll give you dingers and a handful of RBI from the Reds’ 5- or 6-hole. Being the heavy half of the platoon makes him a good play only in weekly or 14-team leagues.

Aaron Rowand | San Francisco | OF
YTD: .307/.373/.485
True Talent: .284/.347/.452
Next Week Forecast: 0.8 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, .293 BA, 0.3 SB
Rowand followed his injury-shortened .745 OPS in 2006 with a .889 OPS in 2007. Last year he regressed to a .749 OPS, but his performance in 2009 looks a lot like that 2007 rebound, right down to an identical 123 OPS+. True Talent and a .357 BABIP say that he won’t sustain that level, so don’t expect a .300 BA or steals, but 12-team NL leagues and 14-team mixed leagues can ride his hot bat as an extra outfielder.

Carlos Ruiz | Philadelphia | CA
YTD: .287/.410/.475
True Talent: .262/.352/.395
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, .261 BA, 0.3 SB
Ruiz this year has added power to patience, already nearly reaching last year’s 2B and HR totals. He’s hitting more fly balls (34.4 GB% after 54.3% in 2008 and 46.2% in 2007) and increased his HR rate (6.9% HR/F after 4.5% in 2008 and 4.7% in 2007). Those numbers will regress as his legs wear down, but owners in 8+ team NL leagues and all 14+ team mixed leagues can ride him while he’s hot.

Sean West | Florida | SP
YTD: 5.5 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 2.22 ERA
True Talent: 7.1 K/9, 1.0 K/BB, 6.11 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 4.2 IP, 0.2 wins, 4 K, 6.66 ERA
Nobody noticed West’s two decent May starts, but everyone grabbed him after his seven no-hit innings against the Giants. The tall lefty, a 2005 first-round pick, deserves the attention even if True Talent and his .167 BABIP say a correction is looming. Like Maloney, West may not stick when the regular pitcher (Anibal Sanchez) returns, and West’s numbers are a bit fringe-y, but he’s worth a long look in 10-team NL or 14-team mixed leagues.

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  1. G-Man said...

    Josh Outman a good start against SF and the Padres over the next few starts in a shallow mixed or am I playing with fire?

  2. Mark said...

    One question and one suggestion:

    What’s the evidence for believing that Contreras will ever be a top-tier starter again? The fitness story is nice, but we hear dozens of those every year in spring training and during injury rehabs…what’s the legitimacy rate on those reports? I know you said his stuff looks great…but he’s not K’ing very many, so I’m curious if that really holds up.

    Also, would it be possible to have the player names link to their THT stats page in these articles? I like the check out their stats while reading these articles, and being able to click the names rather than having to type in each on individually to the THT player search would be a nice addition.

  3. Rob McQuown said...

    Those are fair questions about Contreras.  With his xFIP not being much below 4.4, even at his best, it would be easy to dismiss him as mediocre.


    - His base FIP in the past 4 seasons have been: 4.20, 4.15, 4.84, 4.30.  That he was performing at this good level last year before being injured suggests that the arm is still there.  And his injury was sort of like Gallardo’s, and there is really no reason to expect it to affect his pitching long-term.

    - The fastball velocity (on average) is up about 1.0 MPH over 07/08 (91.2 vs 90.1 and 90.5).

    - For his career, his August/September stats have been far better than his norm:
    August stats against: .259/.318/.374
    September stats against: .251/.321/.393

    - After Ozzie put this guy as his #1 playoff starter in 2005 based on “how he was pitching”, ahead of at least 2 guys who had “earned it” more, he went on to have a WHIP under 0.9 in 4 playoff starts that season.  While Ozzie says some bizarre things, he’s very much a straight shooter (Remember last year, when he said that Vazquez wasn’t a big-game pitcher?  He calls things like he sees them, IMO).  So, I don’t think it’s insignificant for him to say that he thinks Contreras’ stuff looks as good as he’s ever seen it.

    Anyway, I agree that he’s enigmatic.  But I’d take a chance on the good career SEP/AUG stats, I think… especially if I needed an infusion of pitching.

  4. Rob McQuown said...

    re: Outman, I see that the A’s play at SF this weekend, then @LA, then @SD. 

    - I think Outman @SD is a total no-brainer, with Hairston out.  Without Cust in NL parks, some of those OAK/SD games are going to have “over/under” lines as low as we’ll see this year. 

    - The Giants have a sub-.300 OBP against LHP this year.  Sure, Rowand thinks he’s Mays this month, but who else?

    - You’d think the Manny-free Dodgers would be somewhat vulnerable to LHP, but their season stat line against them is actually far better than vsR.  If you can skip this start, that would be best.

  5. Mike Clay said...

    Back for more constructive criticism.

    I realize this is a “waiver wire” feature, which I suppose is why guys owned in most leagues are rarely mentioned. That being said, opening this up to players owned in most leagues would likely help make it a better feature. Underachieving superstars and overachieving average/slightly above average players should be addressed.

    I mean think about it. Today you guys discussed 16 players and only recommended considering 3 of them for your conventional 12 team league and their wasn’t one player in the NL worth considering for what is the most obvious, conventional, everyday, regular league.

    Hope that helps.

  6. bennythedog said...

    So Rob… 12 team 5×5 daily league, would you rather have Mazzaro or Contreras?



  7. John Burnson said...

    Mark: Fair point. We will aim to link to the THT stat pages going forward.

    Mike: Waiver Wire has a particular focus (guys on the bubble), and we are trying not to dilute it. That said, we have heard from you and other readers that you would like to see columns that cover other topics; we have some ideas, and we are working to match writers to those ideas.

  8. Michael Street said...

    I think linking to THT stats is an awesome idea, and Rob, John and I will look to do that going forward.

    And I’d also like to echo John’s comments about Mike’s constructive criticism, which we always appreciate. This Waiver Wire) feature is about guys on the periphery of most leagues (FWIW, last week, neo asked us to dig even deeper, saying that most of these guys aren’t available in his league). 

    It’s difficult to (1) cover a different group of guys each week and (2) address someone available to every reader, regardless of league. The difference in waiver talent between a 10-team and 14-team league is immense, particularly if that league is NL-only.

    The deeper the league, the more difficult the assessment process becomes. That’s why our recommendations are often guarded and conditional. You’re just not going to find guys the caliber of Ryan Howard or Ichiro Suzuki out on the waiver wire somewhere—and if you do, I hope you don’t need us to tell you to pick him up!

    Waiver wire pickups are usually to fill the last one or two spots on a roster, or to fill in for an injured regular. If you’re looking on the waiver wire for someone to fill your roster for the rest of the season in a deep league, you’re much better off trying to make a trade.

    Finding a waiver wire stud is like finding a Picasso at Goodwill: it might happen to someone, somewhere, but you’d be wasting your time hoping it will happen to you.

    Of course, if he’s out there, we hope to be on top of him—check out Ian Stewart’s production this week, after I gave a “watch this guy” recommendation last week, and Derek Carty seconded that in “Buy on the Rumor” the same day.

    I’m sure as THT Fantasy grows, there will be other features to address issues like when and whether to cut a slumping player. That’s vital fantasy strategy; it’s just not what we cover here.

    Most of all, we appreciate all of the thoughtful and constructive comments. I’m continually amazed at the level of intelligence and writing ability that I find among the THT readership, which challenges us writers to work and think that much harder.

    Discussions like this help us understand how to shape the website content now and in the future, so please keep the comments and observations coming, as well as specific player questions like those that Rob fielded today.


  9. Rob McQuown said...

    Heh, put me on the spot, eh?  :>  As implied, I am expecting 6 more weeks of “hiccups” from Contreras, but on the flip side, that’s the norm for young, unproven pitchers. 

    I think Mazzaro will get less run support (assuming Quentin returns), but is probably the better choice otherwise, as his home park makes a huge difference, and both bullpens have been outstanding.  Heater e-Magazine has all the upcoming games, but I don’t have the data handy, and the number of games against Seattle would influence my decision, as they have been so inept against RHP (.235/.279/.353 as a team) that Ackley could probably step right in and improve their offense that way.  Too bad he can’t play shortstop.  Anyway, in daily-move formats, games against “offenses” such as that are golden.

    I’d really like to have Contreras on a roster in a “wait-and-see” mode, though.  It’s a tough home park, and while there are no Rangers in the division, CLE/DET/MIN all hit better than LAA.  (actually, looking at R/G now, I see that CLE has actually outscored TEX).

  10. Mike Clay said...

    Sounds good. Just trying to help out.

    Maybe a feature with guys to target in trades and guys to try and sell low on.

    And I understand what you are saying about going deep on the wire, but like I said, you only recommended (kind of) signing 3 of 16 players in 12 teams leagues. Since most leagues are 12 teamers, it kind of surprised me.

    Hope that helps. Nice work nonetheless.

  11. Steve W. Rosenbaum said...

    Ricky Romero is available in my league.  I already have Outland.  Looking for another “young upside” to compliment to my veteran staff.  Your thoughts?

  12. John Burnson said...

    It’s hard for me to believe that Romero is going to sustain his great control. His walk totals so far by game are 2/0/2/1/5/2/2. Those are VERY good numbers for a green MLB’er, but last year in Triple-A he had a 1.9 K/BB and 1.45 WHIP, versus his current 2.3 K/BB and 1.37 WHIP. I’m just not convinced. High-risk, high-reward.

    I like Scott Richmond a lot more, granting that Richmond is older and the #5 starter. Richmond’s walk rate is comparable to Romero’s, but Richmond’s has a firmer foundation in the minors.

  13. Rob McQuown said...

    I see pros and cons with Romero,

    – He was highly regarded out of the draft, those many years ago.  Given that I’ve ripped teams for taking that sort of “almost ready” lefty starter in the draft, I personally ascribe almost zero weight to it. 
    – Everything the Jays does with their pitchers turns to gold.  Except David Purcey, sadly, who was the one guy I invested in this past offseason based on the Magic jays Theory.
    – He is coming back from injuries, which means that he could exceed his recent minor-league stats significantly.
    – His xFIP is 4.12

    – The stuff John said.
    – He’s allowed 8 HR in 43.2 IP.  Now, sure, that’s because his HR/FB% is 19%, right?  Well… that could be.  But “mistake” pitches get hit a lot harder than your typical flyballs, too.  And he’s a lefty in Toronto.
    – The three highest-scoring teams in the AL this year are: NY, TB, BOS.  And that’s with B.J. Upton sleepwalking.  Baltimore was up there until the M’s and A’s stifled them for 6 straight games. 
    – The injury stuff noted above?  I think it makes him more prone to injuries in the future than a “typical” starter, though all pitchers are at risk.

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