Waiver Wire: American League (Week 5)

We’ve got a much more exciting American League this week and a lot of guys to cover, so let’s get started.

American League

Nick Adenhart | LAA | SP: Adenhart has been getting some hype, but I just don’t see it. Why is a guy who had a 6.82 K/9 and 3.82 BB/9 in 153 Double-A innings last year expected to be a good contributor right now? It’s not even like Max Scherzer where his 2007 peripherals were decent and he dominated Triple-A to start this year. He had a 5.52 K/9 and 4.35 BB/9 in Triple-A, for those wondering. He did have a 50 percent ground ball rate last year, but that’s not going to make up for his other shortcomings. He should struggle if he remains in the majors.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team AL-only leagues.

Garrett Olson | BAL | SP: Less hype than Adenhart, but he’s a much better bet for success. He struggled in the majors in limited innings last year, but he had an 8.44 K/9 and 2.74 BB/9 with a 44 percent ground ball rate in Triple-A. He had a nice-looking first start and could stick in the rotation until Adam Loewen returns, which might not be for a while. Even theb, Olson would deserve to stay on in place of Steve Trachsel or the next guy we’ll talk about.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

Brian Burres | BAL | SP – Burres’ current 2.87 ERA is being aided by a lucky .265 BABIP, 79 percent LOB rate, and 6.5 percent HR/FB. His peripherals are bad, though, and they weren’t much better last year. Burres pitched in relief in 20 of 37 games last year and posted a 7.14 K/9 and 4.91 BB/9 with a 38 percent ground ball rate. His luck will run out and those who pick him up will be disappointed.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 14-team AL-only leagues.

Chad Gaudin | OAK | SP: Gaudin, like Burres, is getting lucky, but he is also being helped by improved control (2.40 BB/9). His career walk rate is 4.35, so there’s a pretty good chance it will regress, rendering him useless in most mixed leagues. If you’re in a deep league and want to stash someone, feel free. Just know that Gaudin has a lot of downside now and virtually no upside (maybe in the ground ball rate, but that’s it). If he continues like this, an ERA in the low 4.00s is most likely. If he regresses, think high 4.00s.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team AL-only leagues.

Rich Harden | OAK | SP: Harden will make one more rehab start before joining the big club, so if you want him, you need to grab him now. He is a good bet to get injured again, but he could be effective while healthy. I’m not dropping a good healthy pitcher for him, but while healthy, here are the leagues he could be owned in.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Phil Hughes | NYY | SP: I was actually planning a write-up on Hughes before he got injured, so this will have to do for now. He didn’t seem like himself at the end of last year (after returning from injury) or at the start of this year. Now that he’s out until July with another injury, who knows what to expect coming back? If you have a DL spot, stash him. If not, I wouldn’t blame you for dropping him in mixed leagues.
Recommendation: Should be dropped in all but the deepest mixed leagues. Should be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team AL-only leagues.

Wladimir Balentien | SEA | OF: Wladimir has some talent, but his value won’t approach Jeff Clement’s. Until last year, his contact rates ranged from 67 percent to 71 percent, but the 78 percent mark in Triple-A last year and the 82 percent mark in 63 at-bats this year show promise. He walks a lot and has a decent BABIP history, but an average above .250 or .260 might be too much to ask for (unless, of course, that contact rate stays around 80 percent). Given 500 at-bats, though, he could hit 20 home runs. He’s hit seventh twice and eighth once so far, so RBIs and runs might not be especially easy to come by. There are likely better options in your league, although Baltentien does have a lot of potential and could be worth taking a chance on.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deep mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

Emil Brown | OAK | OF: Batting average is being driven by a 90 percent contact rate while his career rate is 79 percent. This could regress (as would his average), but his 113 plate appearances are approaching the 150 Pizza Cutter found as being meaningful. If his contact rate is real, Brown becomes more of a .270 hitter who should be good for a dozen or so home run production. He’s currently hitting .417 with runners on and .480 with runners in scoring position. The RBIs will come down as those regress.
Recommendation: Should be owned only in the deepest of mixed leagues. Should be strongly considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team AL-only leagues.

Eric Hinske | TB | 1B/OF: Hinske, like Brown, is seeing his average driven by a higher than normal contact rate, and Hinske only has 90 plate appearances so far. His 20 percent HR/FB is also very high. Considering that HitTracker shows that his raw power hasn’t changed at all, and Tropicana isn’t especially conducive to where he hits the ball or to lefty hitters in general, the power numbers should drop off a bit. He does hit a lot of fly balls, though, and could hit 20 home runs (assuming 500 at-bats). Unless the new contact rate is for real, though, his average might not go much higher than .250. Not a great spot in the lineup, but he should pick up his fair share of RBIs. He does have to worry a little about Gabe Gross and Jonny Gomes once Cliff Floyd returns (plus Floyd himself), so don’t be 100 percent committed to Hinske if you own him.
Recommendation: Should be owned only in deep mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12-team AL-only leagues.

Reggie Willits | LAA | OF: Willits was called up this week, and while he has some skills, he probably won’t have much fantasy value now. He has speed and takes a lot of walks, but he has no power and it’s yet to be seen if his .363 BABIP is sustainable at the major league level. Even if it’s just .340, he would still hit over .300, but if the BABIP drops to .300 then he would only hit .270. There also isn’t any room for him in the Anaheim outfield right now with Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Garret Anderson and Gary Matthews Jr. around. He makes a decent speculative pick in deeper leagues given the shaky health of some of those guys, but not much more.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team AL-only leagues.

Scott Rolen | TOR | 3B: Just 23 at-bats into his season, you shouldn’t be changing your expectations of Rolen. Toronto inflates righties’ homers by 21 percent, but Rolen doesn’t have a ton left. Still, he should be marginally useful while healthy, batting .285 or so in a decent lineup for runs and RBIs.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues while healthy given that most good third basemen are in the NL.

Billy Butler | KC | 1B/OF/UT: Why is Butler getting dropped? He’s hitting .290 (as he should be expected to this year, if not higher) and has pretty good raw power (although he only has one homer so far). He’s batting mostly sixth now, but he should still collect some RBIs.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Franklin Gutierrez | CLE | OF: He’s kind of an unspectacular type (at least in terms of his fantasy numbers), but he gets the job done. A .270 average with 15-20 homers and a handful of steals can be expected of Gutierrez. He still needs to worry a little about Jason Michaels or David Dellucci, but he’ll probably get close to regular at-bats the rest of the year unless he really starts to slump.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

Jeff Clement | SEA | C/UT: I talked more in-depth about Clement in today’s “Player Spotlight.” The basic point was that if he is eligible at catcher in your league (or will be after five games there), he needs to be owned. Otherwise, it really goes on a case-by-case basis. If you have room to stash him and wait until he gains catcher eligibility in leagues that require more games, you could be handsomely rewarded.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia | TEX | C/1B: A lot of people like Salty, but I think he’s overrated. He’s not getting regular playing time, is hitting relatively low in the order when he does, puts up below-average contact rates, and had a .270 BABIP in Double-A in 2006. He could hit 15 or so homers given 500 at-bats. By catcher standards he is okay, but he’s really not great.
Recommendation: Should not be owned in single-catcher mixed leagues. Should be owned in 14-team, two-catcher mixed leagues. Should be considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team AL-only single catcher leagues. Should be owned in all two-catcher AL-only leagues.

Concluding thoughts

If you have questions on anyone else, feel free to send me an e-mail. We’ll look at the National League either tonight or tomorrow.

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