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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.