Waiver Wire: American League (Week 11)

Not really much excitement in the American League this week, especially in the way of hitters.

American League

Francisco Liriano | MIN | SP: Liriano has put up three good games in a row in the minors, posting a cumulative 10.3 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 18.1 innings. He was pretty bad before these three starts, at times downright awful, but we all know the potential is there. It’s possible he’ll get a callup by the end of the month, and if you’re looking to take a risk, Liriano is a good pickup. He could be a home run pickup or completely bomb. Picking him up really depends more on your individual team situation than most Waiver Wire additions do, so I’m not going to list specific leagues to grab him in.

Clay Buchholz | BOS | SP: Similar to Liriano in that he’s been relegated to the minors, although Buchholz’s demotion was completely unwarranted. With the way Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched this year (while healthy), Buchholz could come up and immediately be the second-best Sox starter. He could be getting recalled within a couple weeks (hat tip Melnick & Greco), so now might be a good time to stash him if someone in your league hasn’t already. I kind of like what that article says about his arm angles. The upside of a fantasy ace is there, but he hasn’t been great since returning from injury, so just keep your expectations in check.
Recommendation: Can be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Radhames Liz | BAL | SP: Liz has taken Steve Trachsel‘s spot in the rotation and could be there to stay. He has always been able to strike batters out, but he’s struggled with his control. His K/9 fell to 8.70 in Triple-A this year, but his BB/9 also fell to 3.75. It’s not great, but it’s better than it has been. Liz is a fly ball pitcher, though, and those numbers figure to get at least a little worse in the majors. He might be worth owning in some leagues and he has some upside, but I don’t see him doing all that well this year. He will, at least, be better than Trachsel.
Recommendation: Should be strongly considered in deep mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

R.A. Dickey | SEA | SP: Miguel Batista is moving to the bullpen and R.A. Dickey is moving into the rotation, at least for now. The M’s say that they need Batista in the bullpen with J.J. Putz out, but he’s been awful this year and Dickey could easily stay for the remainder of the year. Dickey isn’t great himself, but he has good control and gets some ground balls. Worth a look in AL-only leagues.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

Brandon Morrow | SEA | CL: With J.J. Putz hitting the DL, Morrow becomes the closer in his place. Morrow has had control troubles in the past, but he’s walking just 3.5 batters per nine in 18 innings this year and striking out 12.5. Morrow needs to be owned until Putz returns and can even be owned in certain leagues after that with all the struggles Putz has had this year.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Troy Percival | TB | CL: Percival is supposed to be activated today and should step right back into the closer’s role. He’s a risk to get injured again, but he’s been very good while healthy this year and needs to be owned.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Joel Zumaya | DET | RP: Zumaya is shooting for a return next Friday. With the way Todd Jones is pitching, there is a decent chance Zumaya is closing games by the middle of July. If you’re looking for a guy to speculate on, there aren’t too many better options than Mr. Zumaya.
Recommendation: Should be considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Fernando Rodney | DET | RP: Rodney should be back on Monday, but with Zumaya coming back earlier than he was originally expected to, there’s very little chance Rodney will be closing games this year. The Tigers have been been reluctant to make him their closer in the past, and with a guy as good as Zumaya around (assuming Zumaya is his old self, which may or not happen right away), I just don’t see it happening.
Recommendation: Should be owned in leagues where setup men have value.

Ramon Ramirez | KC | RP: Might not be anything to worry about, but Joakim Soria missed Tuesday and Wednesday with “some tightness in his backside.” Ramirez is next in line right now if Soria needs to miss time. If you’re speculating, Ramirez is a guy you can keep in mind, though Soria did pitch yesterday
Recommendation: Should be owned in leagues where setup men have value.

Santiago Casilla | OAK | RP: Santiago Casilla could be back at the beginning of next week. He was one of the best relievers in baseball this year before his injury, and there’s a chance he’d start closing games if Huston Street gets traded in July. There was talk before Joey Devine‘s injury that Devine could actually be the one to take the role, but he has only just begun playing catch again. There’s still a chance this could happen, but Casilla is a decent speculatory pickup. If nothing else, he should put up elite numbers for a setup man, assuming he comes back fully effective. If you’re in a league where you can stash a player in a DL spot for a couple of weeks after their real-life activation, Casilla and Devine would make even better pickups.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Kelly Shoppach | CLE | C: With Victor Martinez sidelined for a while, Shoppach should take over catching duties. He strikes out a ton but puts up good BABIPs and has some power. Expect maybe a .240-.250 batting average with 20 home run production (assuming 500 at-bats), which is useful for a catcher. He’ll likely be hitting at the bottom of the order, though, limiting RBI and run potential.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team single-catcher AL-only leagues. Should be owned in all two-catcher AL-only leagues.

Ryan Garko | CLE | 1B: I’ve gotten a couple questions about Garko lately. His batting average and HR/FB are both down, though his contact rate is up to 85 percent. His BABIP is down to .281 after in was .322 last year and .333 the year before. Remember, though, that it was .266 in Triple-A in 2006.

Still, Garko is being more selective this year, swinging at 17 percent of pitches out of the strike zone as opposed to 27 percent last year (courtesy FanGraphs). He’s making contact with them at the same rate, so the drop in BABIP really doesn’t make much sense. He’s swinging at better pitches, making contact at the same rate, but they’re falling for hits at a worse rate. This doesn’t seem to make much logical sense, and in the light of his prior BABIPs, I’d have to think he’ll be bouncing back above .300. When he does, his batting average should rise.

He isn’t hitting his homers quite as far as last year, looking at his HitTracker profile, yet at age 27 we’d expect him to be peaking. His power really isn’t off by much (12 percent HR/FB last year and 8 percent this year), and he’s hitting the same percentage of fly balls, so a power bounce back wouldn’t really be a surprise. He’s hitting cleanup for the Tribe, and I think Garko is a solid pickup.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Jamey Carroll | CLE | 2B: With Asdrubal Cabrera in the minors and now Josh Barfield on the DL, Carroll will man second base for a while. He doesn’t have much power, will only hit maybe .260-.270, but he does have a little bit of speed. He does take walks, though, and will likely hit at the top of the order, so he could score some runs.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be strongly considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team AL-only leagues.

Mike Aviles | KC | SS: There was news last week that Esteban German would be the everyday shortstop in KC, but it looks like Aviles is getting a lot more time than he is. Aviles puts up good contact rates and could hit .290 or so with a handful of homers and a handful of steals. He won’t score or drive in many runs batting mostly eighth, but he still could have a little value.
Recommendation: Should be strongly considered in deep mixed leagues. Should be strongly considered 10-team and owned in 12-team AL-only leagues.

Frank Thomas | OAK | UT: The Big Hurt could be back next Friday once the A’s are done playing Interleague games in National League parks. As I’ve said for a long time now, Frank Thomas is a great guy to own that very few people give credit to. He’s older, lacks speed and has injury concerns, but he has big-time power and can still hit .270. He’ll probably hit in the heart of the order too, helping with RBIs and with runs (although the speed diminishes some of his runs value).
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

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