Waiver Wire: AL

Carlos Carrasco | Cleveland | SP
YTD: 8.8 K/9, 3.0 K/BB, 5.18 ERA (AAA)
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Pitchers who allow bad “luck” numbers (.330 BABIP and 13% HR/FB% for Carrasco ’09) in the minors often do so because they are short on talent, unlike their MLB counterparts. But, as BA’s Prospect Handbook puts it, “scouts rave about [his] pure stuff.” Obviously, there is a lot of uncertainty when projecting pitchers, but there is a lot of reason to be optimistic here, as he’s just 22 at Triple-A, has been durable, is striking out almost nine per nine innings, and has improved his always-sharp control to an excellent 3.0 BB/9 rate. If the potent Indians offense isn’t dismantled, he could be very good in AL leagues as soon as this season.

Justin Duchscherer | Oakland | SP
YTD: 6.0 K/9, 2.8 K/BB, 2.54 ERA (2008 stats)
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Nothing before 2008 prepared us for Duchscherer’s amazing 141.2 inning season, which was driven by a .235 BABIP. He was a very-high quality setup man for years, so it was known that he could get batters out, and perhaps the injury is the price he paid for stretching it out. He’s a flyball pitcher, and so his BABIP should remain lower than .300, but expectations need to be level-set at an ERA level over 3.00. The park and defense will help him post excellent ratios, as they are helping all the kids in the A’s rotation. But as with the A’s other pitchers, don’t expect run support or long outings. In fact, there are strong rumors circulating that he’ll be back in the bullpen when he returns this season.

Tommy Everidge | Oakland | 1B
YTD: .338/.402/.552 (AA-AAA)
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Who? Silently snuck into the Oakland lineup when Daric Barton went on the DL, Everidge led the Texas League in RBIs (115) in 2008, but was ancient for a Double-A prospect (25), and struck out too much for that level. Oakland was so unimpressed that he started 2009 in Double-A again. Cutting down his swing, he cut his strikeouts dramatically and earned a promotion to Triple-A, where he hit a crazy .382/.432/.636 before getting the call. Obviously, anyone who sees Triple-A for the first time at age 26 is more suspect than prospect, but our estimate is that Everidge gets two to three weeks to catch lightning in a bottle and do his best Garrett Jones impersonation before the revolving door pushes him out of the picture, perhaps forever.

Aaron Laffey | Cleveland | SP
YTD: 5.0 K/9, 1.1 K/BB, 4.40 ERA
True Talent: 4.9 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 4.51 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.2 IP, 0.7 W, 6 K, 4.83
Just 24, Aaron Laffey has quietly stuck around for 200.1 innings in three seasons. How his 13-12 4.36/1.423 career stats should be interpreted is open to debate. His FIP is remarkably similar to his ERA (4.32). But his xFIP has been around 5.0 since the start of 2008, due to very “lucky” HR/FB ratios. He’s not a groundball pitcher, but suffocates the running game (runners are 4-of-5 on SB attempts, career). The Cleveland defense, with Asdrubal at shortstop and Crowe in left field should help him post or better the solid True Talent numbers shown. That makes him a good AL-only play and an occasional mixed-league starter—at least against the likes of Seattle.

Lou Marson | Cleveland | C
YTD: .235/.350/.294
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
This author’s MLP system shows Marson being a .232/.344/.350 hitter in his prime. He reportedly has a weak throwing arm, but calls a good game and is agile. With mega-prospect Carlos Santana getting his licks at Double-A this year (.397 OBP/.536 SLG, 31% CS), it’s hard to envision a scenario where Marson has much of a starting role in Cleveland.

Michael Saunders | Seattle | OF
YTD: .211/.211/.211
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Despite raves about his prospect status, Saunders didn’t post particularly outstanding stats until 2009. While recent history has shown some disappointing Tacoma-to-Seattle transitions, for a 22-year-old to post a .310/.378/.544 in that not-so-great hitting environment is very impressive. In a keeper league, he’s a fine power prospect despite his home park. The question for redraft leagues is always what a guy will do NOW. There’s really no reason to expect him to move seemlessly into the majors, so expect mediocre 2009 stats, improving gradually.

Brett Wallace | Oakland | 1B
YTD: .235/.350/.294
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Not quite blowing away the MLP system, Wallace’s typical prime years performance is still good enough to rate starting at first base. Billy Beane has apparently realized that yes, indeed, pitching and defense win games. So, don’t expect the A’s to stretch Wallace by playing him at third base long term. The issue here is that the A’s have a crowd at first base: the epiphany that is Tommy Everidge, the previous first baseman acquired from St. Louis (Daric Barton), Sean Doolittle and Travis Buck. We think he’ll rise above this crowd, but without some curve-busting growth, don’t expect a premier hitter.

Jack Wilson | Seattle | SS
YTD: .267/.304/.387
True Talent: .272/.318/.382
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 3 Runs, 3 RBI, .273 BA, 0.2 SB
He doesn’t hit for much batting average. He doesn’t steal. The new ballpark will again limit his power. But still, the atmosphere in Seattle is upbeat and the things Wilson does well (defense) are highly regarded. Wilson has had only one completely heathy season (2004), and hit a respectable .308/.335/.459. It would be folly to assume another .333 BABIP season from him, as his career mark is just .294. But good health and a positive environment should allow him to meet those weekly forecast numbers (based on an optimisic 95 percent playing time expectation).

Orioles Bullpen:

Jim Johnson | Baltimore | RP
YTD: 6.5 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, 3.17 ERA
True Talent: 5.8 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.03 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 1.3 Saves, 3.92 ERA
Often not a great attribute for a sinkerballer (55 percent groundball rate career), Jim Johnson has added significantly to his fastball velocity over the past two years, and is bringing the heat at over 94 mph, on average, in 2009. That explains the 1.0 increase K/9 he’s added over his 5.5 career rate. He’s improved his walk rate (under 3.0 now), too. The combination has pushed his K/BB ratio over the 2.0 mark, a good benchmark for closer-worthiness. Expect him to be announced as the primary closer, or at least to become the de facto head of a committee.

Chris Ray | Baltimore | RP
YTD: 9.7 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 9.28 ERA
True Talent: 8.0 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, 4.96 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 Saves, 4.70 ERA
Chris Ray throws hard, strikes out hitters (8.5 K/9 career), doesn’t walk a ton of guys (4.0 BB/9 career), but gives up lots of fly balls, and a disproportionate percentage of HR’s on them. His dominance in Triple-A after being demoted shows that he’s probably fully healthy, though. And, as a feast-or-famine guy in a pen without an alpha dog, he has the possibility to go from a 9.00 ERA to holding the closer’s bone with surprising quickness, maybe as soon as in August. Don’t pay a lot for the possibility, though—as closers go, he’s still a mutt.

Danys Baez (reprise) | Baltimore | RP
YTD: 5.0 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.41 ERA
True Talent: 5.4 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 4.61 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 Saves, 4.49 ERA
Since we last visited Baez, his BABIP has gone up (as predicted) from .192 to .237. Some of that’s natural and some due to glove wiz Cesar Izturis missing time, as Baez is still generating grounders 60 percent of the time. There’s a lot of fan discontent with Baez, but opposing hitters are still hitting an anemic .228/.296/.353 against him this year. Something has to give, because if he keeps holding hitters to that line, the ERA will come down significantly. But don’t expect his 41-save season in ’05 to open doors for many saves, he’s still on the outside looking in.

Cla Meredith | Baltimore | RP
YTD: 5.0 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 3.89 ERA
True Talent: 6.0 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, 3.55 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 Saves, 3.92 ERA
Cla Meredith is not only the most extreme groundballer on this staff (and annually in competition for most extreme in MLB), but also the favorite of “True Talent” among the O’s relievers. With his delivery, he’s been much more effective against right-handed batters, though the +10 IBB vsL magnify the actual difference, so it’s not as bad as the .378 to .293 OBP difference suggests. As with other extreme groundball pitchers, Meredith will likely be used before the ninth inning in GDP situations as often as Trembley can arrange it. Expect an occasional save here and there.

True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.

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  1. MadMaxScherzer said...

    Very true about Inge. I think Leyland is coming to his senses and will DL him so that I don’t have to make a tough decision. At the very least he plays backup for 3rd and Catcher.

    No Marte mention?

  2. Rob McQuown said...

    re: O’s pen – good call on Mickolio.  If you’re playing for 2010, he’s not a bad gamble.  I stayed away from the AAA guys (unless you count Ray as one), since:

    1. Jim Miller is closing, and I would have to look to see who he is. :>
    2. Mickolio is doing very well, and probably has the best long-term closing outlook among this motley crew.  It’s confusing that if he’s being groomed for short work, that he isn’t even closing for his AAA team.
    3. McCrory has been very disappointing.  Not sure what happened to him.  He throws very hard, and it was hoped he’d get his control together enough to be a quality short reliever, but he’s lost his strikeout punch recently, so his stock is about as low as it’s been since his nice AFL performance in 2007.

  3. Rob McQuown said...

    Free Andy Marte addition:

    (no Heater numbers available, and last year’s Heaters – which subscribers get access to – don’t have “True Talent” for part-time players)

    Marte is well-known as an elite prospect-gone-bad, though he has oddly never really crushed minor-league pitching outright.  His prospect status has always included a consideration of his “age vs. level”, and good stats (i.e. not eye-popping “great” stats).  Well, he’s finally putting up some great stats at still-young age 25, hitting AAA at a .327/.369/.593 clip.  That may be fewer walks than we’d like to see, and the BABIP (.345) is 40 points higher than his norm, but when he’s slugging almost .600, those are moot points. 

    There was always thought to be tons of excess talent here, and even if he’s squandered a lot of it, he should be good enough to hold a corner job.  He needs to either hit convincingly, or at least out-hit Crowe, to stave off being bumped by the inevitable Matt LaPorta permanent promotion which should be coming soon.

  4. Jack said...

    According to a local Cleveland paper, Justin Masterson will be entering the rotation of the Indians after a few relief outings.  Shouldn’t he be on this list?

  5. Rob McQuown said...

    Well, it’s great that you’re counting on us.  There was never really any intention of making this comprehensive.  The thought was eight (8) players per week.  I threw in a bunch of extras this week, since it was trade deadline day.

    Masterson’s a very talented pitcher, obviously.  Good K’s and ratios.  And Cleveland retained enough weapons to score some serious runs, and should have a decent defense if Sizemore is healthy (their RZR/OOZ are very close to average).  The problems here are Masterson’s in-game durability and the unfathomably bad bullpen (I had Lewis and Perez in various leagues – mostly SOM, not roto – so it’s not like I saw their meltdowns coming).  The division isn’t filled with great offenses (KC is putrid, even with Gordon), but the White Sox should be above average now that Quentin is back, and Beckham has stepped up.  And Minnesota could end up setting a team record for slugging.

    In short, he’s worth getting as a SP, but don’t break the bank.  If he returns to relief, it’s hard to see much value, as Wood is locked up for another couple years.

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