Waiver Wire: AL

Michael Aubrey | Baltimore | 1B
YTD: .308/.345/.462
True Talent: .247/.298/.385
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, .247 BA, 0.0 SB
We hopped into our Wayback Machine to dig up the goods on Michael Aubrey. Back to the days when he was considered a “can’t miss” prospect … back to the days when he was healthy! He was the 11th pick in the 2003 draft, ahead of notables such as Aaron Hill, Carlos Quentin, and Chad Billingsley. He started his pro career in full-season Single-A ball the same year, making such a mockery of the Sally League that he started his first full season of pro ball in High-A in 2004. He also destroyed that level, earning a quick promotion to Double-A. That’s when the injuries began. He missed about 360 games between the second half of 2004 and 2007. He missed time again in 2008 but finally made it to Triple-A. In 2009, he was hitting .290/.323/.436 before his call-up, and he even managed to play in 101 games. Though slow, he’s a good defender and Trembley likes him. He’s going to play the rest of this year and might be a good deep sleeper pick in AL-only leagues for next year—there’s no telling when “hidden” talent will re-emerge on a guy who’s missed so much time.

Fausto Carmona | Cleveland | SP
YTD: 5.5 K/9, 1.0 K/BB, 6.89 ERA
True Talent: 5.4 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 4.90 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.2 IP, 0.3 Wins, 3 K, 4.82 ERA
Time for another round of, “How Desperate Are YOU?” The Indians expected to contend but quickly saw their season fall apart, and expected No. 2 starter Fausto Carmona‘s a big part of the reason why. He’s not throwing 95 mph any more, but his fastball still averages about 93 mph this year. And he’s inducing 54.2% grounders. But that’s about it for any good news … his control has deserted him entirely, and there’s no reason to think it will come back this season, if ever. He’s walked 5.4 batters/9 IP, and when he’s thrown strikes, he’s allowed a career-high 18.6% LD%, and just a 2.8% infield fly%, indicating that batters are teeing off. Anyway, TT projects him to have a sub-5.00 ERA, and getting to pitch at home against the O’s could help him tonight. But, really, picking him up is a last-ditch effort to get someone who was once good, and is assured of getting his starts.

Brett Gardner | New York | OF
YTD: .279/.354/.397
True Talent: .261/.340/.361
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 1 Runs, 0 RBI, .264 BA, 0.4 SB
Two months ago, we anticipated that Gardner’s OBP would stay above the TT level (which was .341 at the time), and it has. Expect him to see a LOT of playing time as the Yankees make sure that their starting outfielders are as healthy and rested as possible for the playoffs. The Yankees will face some good catchers (KC and TB), but Gardner is fast enough to steal anyway, and could make a difference in that category.

Alex Gonzalez | Boston | SS
YTD: .239/.276/.354
True Talent: .248/.300/.391
Next Week Forecast: 0.6 HR, 2 Runs, 3 RBI, .255 BA, 0.1 SB
Gonzalez has hit .321/.333/.607 in 60 PA at Fenway this year, and Boston plays 6 of 9 at home, with the other three being at New York. For his career, he’s shown no preference for facing LH or RH pitching, but everyone’s shown a preference for Cleveland’s pitching this season, and the Indians and Blue Jays are the two home series. Don’t expect miracles, but he’ll play every day, and could hit a couple more HR.

Mark Hendrickson | Baltimore | SP/RP
YTD: 5.3 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 4.37 ERA
True Talent: 5.7 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 4.60 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.2 IP, 0.7 Wins, 7 K, 4.92 ERA
Moved into the rotation to replace Matusz, Hendrickson can be expected to start for the rest of this year, as the team faces Cleveland, TB, and Toronto. His True Talent projection looks promising, but only pick him up in a pinch (and hope for the best!), as he’s been much better in relief due to his L/R splits (.268/.311/.397 against as RP, .317/.378/.596 as an SP; tOPS+ splits of 75/113 vsL/R).

Daniel Hudson | Chicago | SP
YTD: 6.8 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 3.38 ERA
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: 6.2 IP, 0.5 Wins
Daniel Hudson “blew up” the True Talent projections, his minor-league stats were so awesome this year (147.1 IP, 105 H, 166:34 K:BB, just five HR at four levels). Entering the 2008 college season, Hudson was all the buzz, expected to be a high-round pick, but he had an off year, and slipped to the White Sox in the fifth round. You could say he’s rebounded nicely in ’09. He reaches 94 pretty effortlessly now, and his slider should become devastating, as it was in the minors. He’s typical in terms of GB% and FB%, and should be considered a prime Rookie of the Year candidate for 2010, even if the Sox delay his call-up two months to avoid arbitration, which is a possibility.

Ryan Raburn | Detroit | OF
YTD: .281/.345/.517
True Talent: .264/.331/.456
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .266 BA, 0.2 SB
Lost in the shuffle of the Detroit outfield has been former utilityman Ryan Raburn, who has blasted 14 HR and stolen five bases in about half a season’s worth of PA. He’s used in a pinch sometimes but has appeared in all but three Tigers games in September. A nice source of homers in AL-only leagues, and he’s good enough to play against LHP in any format, if you have daily moves.

Matt Thornton | Chicago | RP
YTD: 10.7 K/9, 4.5 K/BB, 2.65 ERA
True Talent: 9.5 K/9, 3.2 K/BB, 3.19 ERA
Next Week Forecast: n/a Saves, 3.25 ERA
Matt Thornton is the White Sox closer, and he should be great at it. There’s even some talk that Jenks won’t be brought back in 2010, though it’s premature for that. Thornton is arguably the best lefty reliever in the game now and one of the hardest-throwing—clocking in with an average fastball velocity well over 95 mph. He should be immediately considered a top closer down the stretch, even with the typical caveats about the last three outs being harder to get. Trading Joe Borchard for this guy was highway robbery by Kenny Williams.

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  1. Peter D said...

    Hi Rob

    I’ve got a keeper quandry as well,  I’m in a 12 team 5×5 roto league that uses OBP in place of avg. I’ve got to pick 4 keepers out of the following guys:
    – Ryan Howard (will be one of the four)
    – Brian Roberts
    – David Wright
    – Manny Ramirez
    – Adam Dunn (much more valueable in OBP league)
    – Jason Bay
    – Troy Tulowitzki
    Right now I’m leaning towards Bay, Howard, Wright ant Tulowitzki.  However I’m starting to have concerns about Wright, would I be crazy not to keep him?

  2. Rob McQuown said...

    Hi Peter -

    - I think you’re right to dismiss Manny, as great as he is.  The rate stats have to be slightly discounted due to the expectations of missed playing time.

    - Frankly, I don’t know exactly what David Wright’s issues are this year, but there certainly are some bright yellow flags, with the BABIP going through the roof being the only thing to keep his surface stats on a par with a star ballplayer, as his Ct% and HR% both plummeted.  Having said that, I do think it would be crazy to cut him.  This is a young ballplayer who was being discussed as arguably the best keeper in all baseball before the 2009 season.  I’d trust the “superstar” label in this case.  I wouldn’t bid “retail” prices in an auction, but I’d still keep him in this context.  Heck, his “off year” was still a lot like a Brian Roberts season.

    - I can’t see any compelling reason to rank Bay ahead of Dunn.  To me, in a league where OBP is used instead of AVG, Dunn is an obvious target.  Especially with the 2-position qualification, which can be nice.  Both Bay and Dunn stay healthy, which is also nice, but there are few more certain power sources than Adam Dunn and he’s a year younger than Bay, FWIW.  Bay benefits from the ballpark and surrounding offense, but Reddick will need playing time soon, so it’s possible that   Bay will get more off days, too.

    So, I’d go with Howard, Wright, Dunn, and Tulowitzki.

  3. Evan said...

    Hi Rob,

    Great stuff as always. I was wondering if you could help me decide which player I should keep for the next two years in my H2H points league.  I can choose one of the following: Ben Zobrist, Garrett Jones, and Julio Borbon.  I know Borbon doesn’t offer much power, but I think he has Jose Reyes-like potential in that Texas lineup. 

    Thanks in advance for your time.

  4. Rob McQuown said...

    Hi Evan -

    Wow, I just wrote about 200 words in reply, and the browser ate it. Gack!  I’ll be sure to paste it into a doc before clicking Submit this time…

    Which ties into my first comment, which is that players often say that baseball humbles them just when they think they have it figured out.  Well, Garrett Jones did that to me as an analyst.  Call it silly pride, but I am still in denial that a guy who couldn’t hit minor-league pitching for all those years (even with park adjustments) is an MLB star.  Pass.

    Then, I spent some time noting that Zobrist’s 2nd-half stats were weaker, but still good.  I would expect stats more like his 2nd-half stats in 2010, than like his overall season line.

    Borbon is going to rack up the most fantasy value over the next 5 years, but how many keeper slots do you get, and how highly regarded are young players and speed players in your league.  If guys like Michael Bourn, Nyjer Morgan, and Rajai Davis were hanging around on waivers for much of the year, I’d probably just pass on Borbon and figure I could always pick up speed somehow.  But if SB are coveted and hoarded, and you are okay with some risk, he should be an impact speed guy for years.  I did note also that he’s played LF and DH in the bigs, for some reason.  He has a good defensive rep, so I was expecting him to slide right into CF.  If he’s not a great defensive player (I’d have to research up on this one, not sure why he’s playing LF/DH), he’s going to really have to rake in spring 2010 to earn a job, even with Andruw and Byrd having their contracts expire.  There’s still Murphy, Cruz, Hamilton.  And the DH will come from the glut of corner infielders.

    So, in a vacuum, I’d take Zobrist now, as the most likely to both play a lot and to contribute.  But Borbon’s the “upside” pick with more risk – assuming that SB aren’t super-easy to acquire in your league.


  5. Evan said...

    Hi Rob,

    Thank you for the very quick response.  I really appreciate your input.  I was leaning towards Zobrist as well given his 2B/SS/OF eligibility in my league, but his power drop-off late in the season rekindled some of the skepticism that I naturally have for late-bloomers like “Zorilla”.  Most of his peripherals however, like his BB/SO ratio and his OPS have remained pretty impressive and the loss of Pena undoubtedly slowed down everyone in the Ray’s lineup to some degree.
    And even if he takes a step back from this year, I would agree that he still offers a fair amount of value overall. So, like you say, he’s probably the safest player of the three keeper options for the 2010 season. 

    Thanks again-

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