Waiver Wire: American League (Week 7)

Clay Buchholz | BOS | SP: Buchholz will get dropped in some leagues because he’ll be going on the disabled list, but I don’t see why. The Red Sox were going to limit his innings anyway, so he’ll still probably finish the year the same. Since that’s all that really matters, and you knew that when you drafted him, what sense is there in dropping him?
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

David Pauley | BOS | SP: Pauley’s 6.44 K/9 and 2.87 BB/9 weren’t great in Triple-A last year, and his strikeout rate is down below 5 this year. He did have a 55 percent ground ball rate, but Pauley really isn’t a great option. Justin Masterson would be better, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be the choice. The recommendation below assumes Pauley ends up receiving the call.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12-team AL-only leagues, for now.

Bartolo Colon | BOS | SP: Even if Pauley does get called up, he might make only one or two starts. Bartolo Colon needs to be called up before June 1 or he can opt out of his contract, and there are some indications that the Sox want to call him up by then. I don’t know if he’s worth stashing in most leagues, but he’s been good in two minor league starts so far. He had only a 6.89 K/9 and 2.63 BB/9 last year (and was even worse in 2006), so don’t get too excited.
Recommendation: Can be ignored in mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in 12-team and monitored in all AL-only leagues, for now.

Daniel Cabrera | BAL | SP: I discussed Cabrera last week, but he is so interesting. His 3.58 BB/9 is the best of his career, but his strikeout rate is now on a three-year decline, sitting at 5.52. He’s had just one start this year with a K/9 above 7.5, although he has had five starts with a BB/9 equal to or below 3.00. That’s 56 percent of his starts compared to 26 percent last year.

It won’t matter, though, if those strikeouts don’t come back up. Pizza Cutter found that K/TPA stablilizes at 150 batters faced, and Cabrera is currently at 254, so there is no guarantee that they will come back. Best to stay away in most leagues for now. One last thing to consider: For all of the potential people say Cabrera has, he didn’t post a single TQS Great start last year (he does have one this year; more about True Quality Starts here).
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12-team AL-only leagues.

Justin Duchscherer | OAK | SP: As skeptical as I was coming into the season, Duchscherer has been quite good as a starter. Granted, it’s only five starts and 28.2 innings, but the 7.53 K/9 and 2.20 BB/9 look quite good. It isn’t impossible they’ll keep up given his excellent numbers in the bullpen. If you have room and want to speculate on someone, Duchscherer makes a decent pick as his stats begin to stabilize and we see if he’s for real.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues, for now.

Jesse Litsch | TOR | SP: In 46 innings this year, Litsch has improved both his strikeout and walks rates while maintaining a very good 48 percent ground ball rate. The strikeout rate is past the 150 batters faced stabilization point, but the walk rate isn’t there yet. Still, he’s 23, and legitimate improvement is certainly a possibility. His K/9 is still just 5.28, but he makes a decent pickup if you have high-strikeout pitchers to make up for it. Could regress, but makes a decent speculative pickup (though not quite as good as Duchscherer).
Recommendation: Should be owned in deep mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

Mike Mussina | NYY | SP: Don’t be fooled by Mussina’s good year thus far. He is not the Mussina of old. His strikeout rate is down to 4.35, and while his control has always been good, a 1.09 BB/9 is not really sustainable. He was a little unlucky last year, but an ERA under 4.50 would be a surprise.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12-team AL-only leagues.

Ian Kennedy | NYY | SP: Kennedy has been called back up by the Yanks. He’s had good (though not elite) minor league numbers in the past, but he didn’t post a single TQS Above Average start this year in the majors. I do think he could be good, but the potential for a blow-up is certainly there. You can speculate on him, but don’t be counting on him for a whole lot. The control has been good in the minors, but that seems to be his problem in the majors thus far (though his strikeout rate has been only around league-average).
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

Eddie Guardado | TEX | RP: With C.J. Wilson struggling (and potential replacement Joaquin Benoit struggling too), it looks as though Guardado might be next in line. Wilson has blown only one save (and converted eight), but his ERA stands at 5.09 and his skills look bad. Guardado was the choice to close a game this week when Wilson was unavailable, so he might be the guy to own if you think Wilson will lose the job. I doubt he’d do a much better job than Wilson, however.
Recommendation: Can be owned in deep mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12-team AL-only leagues.

Joe Borowski | CLE | CL: Borowski will be returning soon, and if he was dropped in your league and is still available, he needs to be picked up. He will return to the closer’s role, and while he might not be the most effective closer in the league, he will be a closer and needs to be owned if you lack saves.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Masahide Kobayashi | CLE | RP: – Rafael Betancourt continues to look awful in the closer’s role, though a .360 BABIP, 65 percent LOB rate, and 16 percent HR/FB are more to blame than his skills, which are still good. Still, the Indians might not be able to keep him in the role much longer given his surface numbers to this point. Borowski could be back by next weekend, but until then, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kobayashi pick up a couple of saves.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues, for now.

Scott Downs | TOR | RP: B.J. Ryan looks very strong so far, and it’s my understanding the Tommy John surgery isn’t going to produce a relapse from after you regain your health, so the chances of Downs inheriting the role are about the same as a guy like Jonathan Broxton or Hideki Okajima. His skills are good, though, and he has some value simply because of the that. In leagues where setup men have value, Downs is a decent one to own.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues, for now.

Santiago Casilla | OAK | RP: I picked Casilla up in a couple of leagues last week and forgot to mention him, so you have my apologies. After his injury a couple of days ago, though, I’ve already seen him dropped in one league in which he was picked up earlier in the week. We’ll talk about this in more detail soon, but if Huston Street gets traded (and I think there’s a decent chance he will be) or injured, Casilla becomes the closer.

His skills have been spectacular, and if he becomes closer, he immediately becomes one of the better options. He has been placed on the DL, but that just means he’ll be easier to acquire. Watch for the severity of the injury, though. Recommendations assume he’ll be back within a couple of weeks. Even if it’s a little longer, if you have a DL spot open, pick him up and stash him.
Recommendation: Can be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Milton Bradley | TEX | OF: Bradley has his injury concerns (and is currently dealing with a sore right shoulder), but he’s getting regular playing time as Texas’ cleanup hitter. He has a below-average contact rate, but his power and history of good BABIPs should allow him to hit .280-.285. Given 500 at-bats, he could also contribute 23 home runs or so.

He has good power and a hitter’s park, and has Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Ian Kinsler in front of him. That should allow him to get plenty of RBIs. The batters behind him aren’t as good, but the combination of his early position in the lineup and his great walk rate should allow him to score runs, too. In addition, he could steal a handful of bases.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but shallow mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Freddie Bynum | BAL | SS: Bynum is the new starting shortstop in Baltimore. He has a career 69 percent contact rate, but it is 84 percent this year. It’s only been 22 at-bats, though, so this could be a small sample size thing. He has shown a little power, has a history of good BABIPs (though he only has 261 career at-bats), and can steal a bag. It’s difficult to know what to expect since he received limited at-bats over the past few years sitting on the bench in the majors.

He might hit only .245 or so (assuming his current contact rate isn’t for real), but he could hit eight home runs with 25-plus steals. He could steal even more; his stolen base attempt rates have been 39 and 53 percent the past two years. Very few everyday players can get away with that. Bynum has the potential to be Michael Bourn without the runs but with a little more pop.
Recommendation: Should be owned in only in very deep mixed leagues. Should be strongly considered in eight-team and owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

Kenji Johjima | SEA | C: Johjima’s ownership is down to 39 percent in ESPN leagues, but this is really unwarranted. His skills are relatively unchanged: His contact rate is improved, his walk rate is improved, and his batted ball profile is very similar. His BABIP is an unlucky .236, and his HR/FB is just 2.5 after it was nine percent and 11 percent the past two years. He’s 31 years old, and while he has hit only one homer so far, it did go the same distance and to the same location that his homers did last year.

While I don’t know if he’ll put up an 11 percent HR/FB again, cranking back up to eight or nine is quite reasonable. With that, combined with a regressed BABIP, he should be fine. He has to worry about Jeff Clement a little, but Clement is getting at-bats at DH, and Johjima’s sparkling new contract should prevent the Mariners from removing him anytime this year. He’s been dropped to seventh when Clement is in the lineup, but as a catcher, you do much worse.
Recommendation: Should be considered in eight-team and owned in 10-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Brad Wilkerson | TOR | OF: With Vernon Wells on the DL, Wilkerson should platoon with Kevin Mench in right field. Given 500 at-bats, he could hit 20 homers, although the batting average might not be too much better than .230 or .240. He has played in five of the six games since Wells went out and has batted leadoff in the last four, meaning he’ll get some runs. He isn’t much better than an AL-only pick, though.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

Jim Thome | CHW | 1B/UT: I’m issuing a huge ‘hold’ on Thome. His contact rate, walk rate and batted ball profile are very much in line with the past few years. His .244 BABIP is the lowest of his career, and it has been below .300 just once since 1993 (in 2005). Thome is 37, but it will bounce back. His 19 percent HR/FB is down from the past two years, but HitTracker shows that his raw power is very much intact, and his fly ball rate is the same. While 19 percent is very good, it’s quite probable it will get even better.

Thome’s slump will likely cause him to ride the pine for much of the first round of interleague play (when playing in an NL park), but this should only create a better buying opportunity.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Maicer Izturis | LAA | MI/3B: Izturis is back from the DL and will start at second base until Howie Kendrick returns. He always puts up good contact rates, and his 94 percent mark this year is fantastic. It could drop, but as his BABIP rises, he should be good for a .285 average or so. He can hit for a little power, though his fly ball rate is just 23 percent so far this year (career 34 percent).

He also could help with steals. His stolen base attempt rates were 24 and 17 percent in 2005 and 2006, but it fell to 8 percent last year, possibly due to hamstring troubles. It’s up to 27 percent this year, and he succeeds at a career 80 percent rate. Given 550 plate appearances, 30 steals would be pretty likely. He’ll battle Erick Aybar for time, though, once Kendrick returns.
Recommendation: Should be avoided in 10-team mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues, for now.

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