Waiver Wire: American League (Week 3)

Here’s this week’s Waiver Wire for the American League. Before you read this, I highly recommend checking out this post (if you haven’t already), because it gives great insight into early season numbers.

American League

Anybody who has been dropped who you deemed draftable on Draft Day: A repeat of last week. Numbers from the first three weeks of the season mean very little and should be taken with a grain of salt. We’re dealing with sample sizes that are just too small to be significant.
Recommendation – Should be owned in your league.

Rafael Betancourt | CLE | CL: I’m sure that if he wasn’t drafted, he’s already gone in your league following the news that Joe Borowski would head to the DL, but if he’s somehow still hanging around with the likes of Ramón Santiago and Kevin Cash, go get him. He should be a top 10 closer—possibly top five— immediately and could easily hold onto the role once Borowski returns.
Recommendation:Should be owned in all leagues.

Cliff Lee | CLE | SP: We’re still in small sample size territory, but Lee’s 0.40 ERA is being (partially) fueled by improved skills: 7.9 K/9, 0.8 BB/9, and 47percent ground ball rate. It’s entirely possible, maybe probable, that he’ll regress (the walks are a certainty), so it would be a bad idea to drop just about anyone you actually drafted for him, but he’s worth a flier if you have an vacant bench spot, just in case he pans out.
Recommendation:Can be considered in deep 12-team and owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

Greg Smith | OAK | SP: Smith is interesting in that his peripherals have been all over the place (the two numbers given are K/9 and BB/9).
2006/A+: 7.23/3.16
2006/AA: 5.70/3.45
2007/AA: 8.01/1.81
2007/AAA: 5.85/3.10
It looks like he might have adjustment problems when promoted to a new level, and he never got the opportunity to adjust to Triple-A. His 6.23 K/9 and 4.15 BB/9 through two major league starts seem to echo this. He was very good in Double-A last year, but he hasn’t had a ground ball rate above 42 percent since Advanced-A. He has potential, but he might not be the best bet for this year.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Can be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team AL-only leagues.

Andy Sonnanstine | TB | SP: Despite a rocky start to the year, I’m still buying on Sonnanstine, and Saturday night’s complete game shutout helps my case. He continues to exhibit excellent control, although his strikeout rate is down from last year. It’s still early, though, and I would still put money on a league average rate. His 55 percent ground ball rate has been a nice surprise, although that’s probably a small sample size issue. My recommendation remains the same.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Edwin Jackson | TB | SP: I wrote about Jackson before, but I liked this quote from him: “Same preparation, same routine. It’s just now there’s different results.” That should quiet anyone who says Jackson has made adjustments, and those “different results” are a matter of a .202 BABIP, 77% LOB percentage, and 4.8 percent HR/FB. Nothing personal, I’m sure he’s a great guy, but he’s getting lucky.
Recommendation: Should not be owned in mixed leagues. Should be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team AL-only leagues.

Carlos Silva | MIN | SP: Why is Carlos Silva getting added? He’s doing nothing different than he’s ever done. Very low strikeout rate, even lower walk rate, decent ground ball rate. He does have a .253 BABIP and 84 percent LOB rate that are fooling people. If he wasn’t draftable in your league, don’t add him now. He’s the exact same guy.
Recommendation: Should be avoided mixed leagues. Should be owned in deep AL-only leagues. Has a little more value in 4×4 leagues.

Armando Galarraga | DET | SP: Galarraga had a great first start with six strikeouts and no walks in six innings. He struggled a bit in 24.2 Triple-A innings last year, but in 127.2 in Double-A, he posted an 8.04 K/9 and 3.31 BB/9. He shouldn’t be expected to continue pitching as he did in his debut, but a league average strikeout rate is pretty likely. The walks might do him in, but if kept down, he could be a decent major league hurler. He’ll probably be sent down after Dontrelle Willis returns, but given the shaky Detroit pitching staff, could get called back up at some point.
Recommendation: Should be avoided mixed leagues. Can be stashed in deep AL-only leagues.

Luke Hochevar | KC | SP: The Royals recalled him last week, and he might be more of a long-term option than Galarraga. He’ll make at least a couple of starts in place of John Bale, and he could stick in the rotation if he does well. Reasons for optimism: 9.00 K/9 and 2.49 BB/9 in 94 Double-A innings last year. Reasons for concern: 6.83 K/9 and 3.26 BB/9 in 58 Triple-A innings last year and a 6.23 K/9 and 3.12 BB/9 in 17.1 Triple-A innings this year. Minor League Splits has his GB rate as 40 percent while First Inning has it as 63 percent. How does that happen? Hochevar will be interesting to watch, but I have my doubts that he’ll be good.
Recommendation: Should be avoided mixed leagues. Should be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team deep AL-only leagues.

Dan Johnson | TB | 1B: The move out of Oakland helps Johnson’s value (he had just one AB so far this year!), but Carlos Pena is at first for Tampa Bay. Johnson does figure to see some at-bats at DH. While he has decent power and an above-average contact rate, his major league BABIP history isn’t very good and he hasn’t hit over 18 percent line drives in two years. He might be good for a .260 batting average or so with maybe 12-15 home runs, depending on playing time. RBIs and runs should come when he plays given his decent power, good lineup and great walk rates.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be strongly considered in deep 12-team and owned in deep 14-team AL-only leagues.

Michael Cuddyer | MIN | OF: Owned in just 52% of ESPN, Cuddyer should be coming back from injury soon. He has pretty good raw power, as evidenced by his HitTracker profile, although he doesn’t hit a ton of fly balls. He could hit .280+ with 20 home runs. He should resume batting third, making him a good bet for RBIs and runs as well.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Frank Thomas | TOR | DH: I’m kind of at a loss when it comes to Thomas now. I loved him coming into the season, mostly because he has such a solid, consistent skill set despite his advanced age. He’ll be 40 this year and still hits the ball farther than most other players in baseball. While he started the year off hot, he has cooled off, and now the Jays are benching him. Ridiculous.

Some think it could be to limit his plate appearances so his option doesn’t kick in next year, which makes plenty of sense given the abruptness and absurdity of this move. If this is the case, Thomas loses a ton of value. If not, he could be a steal of waiver wire pickup. Take this recommendation lightly; you really need to decide what you think of him. For what it’s worth, I’m hanging onto him in a 10-team mixed league, for now anyway.
Recommendation: Should be considered in 10 and 12-team and owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

C.C. Sabathia | CLE | SP: If you’re in a league with guys like this where Sabathia is allowed to be dropped, please go get him. Yes, the walks are troublesome, and there is cause for concern, but the potential for him to bounce back is too great to leave him unowned. Be sure to read this and this about Sabathia, though, before you go trading for him. There might be a problem here, but as noted earlier, a pitcher’s walk rate is prone to pretty big fluctuations up until 550 batters faced. Sabathia is currently at 99.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Curtis Granderson | DET | OF: Almost certainly owned in your league, but if his owner dropped him and no one picked him up, go get him. Not my favorite player, but definitely has value in all league and should be coming back this week.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

J.J. Putz | SEA | CL: Same deal as Granderson. If you’re in a league where guys like this are being dropped, and you take the game seriously enough to be reading the Hardball Times, you might want to consider finding a more competitive league.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Concluding thoughts

Sorry this is coming so late in the weekend. I’m going to aim for American League on Fridays and National League on Saturdays this season, although that might be difficult for the next couple of weeks. After that, though, I might even try to have them both ready for Friday. We’ll see how things go. Also, I hope these will become a little more comprehensive over the next couple of weeks. Look for this week’s National League later today.

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