Waiver Wire: American League (Week 4)

Not a particularly deep class of American Leaguers this week. In the coming weeks, I’ll be much more thorough.

American League

Frank Thomas | OAK | UT: Shortly after I wrote an article about him, Frank Thomas signed with the Oakland A’s. This is the scenario I considered most likely, and just because it happened doesn’t make the reasoning behind that article any less sound. As I’ve said before, if you focus on getting the process right, the results will fall into place. I hope you hung onto Thomas (or picked him up when his previous owner dropped him), but if he’s still out there, I’d go get him. Still has excellent power and could hit .270.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues.

Matt Stairs | TOR | 1B/OF: With Thomas out of Toronto, Matt Stairs will get the majority of the at-bats at DH. The Rogers Centre inflates lefty homers by 26 percent, and Stairs’ HitTracker profile shows that he has good raw power. These factors combined with a 40-plus percent fly ball rate should allow Stairs to hit a good amount of home runs. Last year he hit his most since 2000, but it was no fluke. He’s 40 years old, but given 500 at-bats he could hit .275 with 25 home runs. Batting fifth, he could also net a bunch of RBIs.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Adam Lind | TOR | OF: Lind will probably start versus most righties and could be moderately effective. Given 400 at-bats, Lind could hit .260 and approach 15 homers. His contact rate is below average, though, so that batting average is dependent upon receiving neutral BABIP luck. Bad luck could make the batting average look really ugly. Has good potential, though, especially with power.
Recommendation:- Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12-team AL-only leagues.

John Danks | CHW | SP: Danks is a hot add now, but he’s currently being aided by a .251 BABIP and 0.0 HR/FB. He will regress, but he still has some talent. Peripherals aren’t great so far, but it’s early, and his 7.1 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 were solid last year. They were even better in the minors in 2006. A 35 percent ground ball rate doesn’t play well in U.S. Cellular, which inflates homers by 30 percent. That rate is up to 49 percent this year, though. He has faced only 93 batters and this could easily come down, but he becomes a much better option if it doesn’t. Overall, he’s been lucky but is decent with some potential.
Recommendation: Should be owned only in very deep mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

Armando Galarraga | DET | SP: I mentioned Galarraga last week after his very good first start, but his second wasn’t as good. He didn’t give up any runs and he struck on four in 5.1 innings, but he also walked four. Given his so-so control in the minors and his lack of much experience above Double-A, he might be in for some rough starts. With how he’s pitching, though, and the possibility that Jeremy Bonderman is injured, he could stay on in the majors for a little while longer.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12-team AL-only leagues.

Matt Garza | TB | SP: Garza made his return Friday night. A lot of people love his stuff, but his numbers have been quite mediocre thus far in his major league career. He had a 7.3 K/9 and a 3.5 BB/9 last year to go with a 43 percent career ground ball rate. These are decent, but not great. He’s a marginal mixed league pickup, although he does have some upside.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deep mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12-team AL-only leagues.

Scott Baker | MIN | SP: I mentioned Baker in week one, but he still is owned in just 4.3 percent of ESPN leagues despite a 3.51 ERA thus far. His K/9, BB/9, and GB percentage are all slightly improved over last year, making his current ERA only a little luckier than we might expect. Those skills might regress a little, but an ERA around or under 4.00 is completely within reason. Weird combination of luck so far: .234 BABIP, 91 percent LOB rate, but a 24 percent HR/FB. It mostly has evened out. I stand by my positive earlier reviews of Baker, though he left Saturday night’s start with a groin strain.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Gary Sheffield | DET | OF: If Sheffield has been dropped in your league, he is definitely a risk, but might be worth a pickup. The cortisone shots he’s receiving could indicate some weakness in the shoulder, which might be the cause of his decreased power so far. If I picked him up, I’d keep him on the bench until he starts to hit, but he’s got talent and could certainly turn his season around. He has the potential to hit .290 with 20 home runs and 10-15 steals; how likely this is, I don’t know. I would still say it’s too early to drop him, though.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all but shallow AL-only leagues.

Jason Kubel | MIN | OF: Not sure how I’ve gone three weeks without mentioning Kubel. I own Kubel in one expert league this year, and he has pretty good skills. He could hit .280 with 18 or so home runs given 500 at-bats. He’s been hitting mostly sixth and a little in the third spot for the Twins, so he should be a good bet for RBIs as well.
Recommendation: Should be considered in deep 10-team and owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Scot Shields | LAA | RP: Francisco Rodriguez isn’t out of the woods yet. If he gets reinjured, Scot Shields will fill in and could become a top 10 closer immediately. He’s a decent speculative pickup. Can be owned in shallower leagues if it fits with your strategy and you have room.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Mark Lowe | SEA | RP: J.J. Putz is back and closing, so Lowe loses a lot of his value. He can be dropped in nearly all leagues because even if Putz gets hurt again, it’s no guarantee Lowe will fill in.
Recommendation: Should be dropped in mixed leagues. Should be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team AL-only leagues.

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