Waiver Wire: American League

Alright.  I assume most of you are familiar with some sort of Waiver Wire column.  Each week, I’ll talk about some guys that might be available to be freely picked up in your league, and whether or not you should be the one to pick them up.  I’ll talk a little about each player and give a recommendation based on league size.  All recommendations are based on a 5×5 format, but if you play in a different type of league, feel free to e-mail me, and I will be happy to help you out.  This will become a weekly post here, coming every Friday, to help you decide who to pick up in time for the Sunday deadline that some leagues impose on setting your lineup for the week.

Since this is my first Waiver Wire at The Hardball Times, I’ll make it a big one.  A lot of the guys here I have talked about in previous installments at my old blog, so bare with me if some of this seems a little repetitive.  I’ll take a look at the National League tomorrow.  Starting next Friday, expect both leagues to come on Friday.

American League

Kevin Slowey | MIN | SP – I talked about Slowey the other day, but as a refresher, I think a line that looks like this is a good possibility: 7.00 K/9 | 2.25 BB/9 | 42% GB.  That would make him useful in certain leagues, but if his K/9 doesn’t get above 6.00 he will lose a lot of value.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 12 and 14-team mixed leagues.  Should be owned in all but the shallowest AL-only leagues, until he proves otherwise.

Akinori Iwamura | TB | 3B – Iwamura was discussed last weekend as part of the Third Basemen feature, so I won’t spend much time on him.  He has shown amazing contact skills and discipline at the plate, as well as a desire to steal bases, so far this year.  Some numbers seem to be better than his Japanese counterparts, so a small regression might be in order.  I could still see him easily hitting .280 with 15 HRs and 25 SBs, though.  If no regression occurs, Iwamura could end up as a Top 7 3B.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 10, 12, and 14-team mixed leagues.  Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Boof Bonser | MIN | SP – A guy I liked preseason, Bonser has surpassed even my expectations.  His fantastic 9.82 K/9 might decrease a little, but it shouldn’t fall below 8.00.  His 4.33 BB/9 is worse than last year, and might improve, but even if it doesn’t and his K/9 settles around 8.50, a 2.00 is usable in combination with his 41% ground ball rate.  If the K rate doesn’t fall very far, Bonser would be even more valuable.  Regardless, he is more valuable than his 24.6% ownership in ESPN leagues indicates.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 10, 12, and 14-team mixed leagues.  Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Chad Gaudin | OAK | SP – Surprising that a guy with a 2.32 ERA is owned in just 34% of ESPN leagues.  His K/BB sits at 2.00, and his K/9 is an average-looking 6.27.  His 3.14 BB/9 is pretty good, but it might not remain that low.  His 50.5% ground ball rate is much higher than it has ever been (41% since 2002) and should see a regression.  His 0.27 HR/9 will, in turn, increase.  Overall, Gaudin’s numbers now are just good enough to get him owned, but with a decrease in his ground ball rate he would become just an average option.  Because his BB rate threatens a decline, I’d say Gaudin is a very risky pickup.  You would probably be better off taking someone else.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues.  Should be considered in 10 and owned in 12 and 14-team AL-only leagues.

Paul Byrd | CLE | SP – Byrd hasn’t walked a batter since April 26, leaving his BB/9 at 0.47.  He’s shown excellent control in the past, but this number is sure to rise.  When it does, his sub-5.00 K/9 will have difficulty sustaining a K/BB over 2.00.  Throw in his terrible 35% ground ball rate, and you get a pitcher you should probably pass on.
Recommendation – Should not be owned in mixed leagues.  Should be owned in 14-team AL-only leagues.

Josh Beckett | BOS | SP – Not sure why Beckett is listed as #10 on CBS’s Most Added Players list, but if, for whatever reason, Beckett is available, pick him up… immediately.  Good K rate, good BB rate, and a good ground ball rate.  Plus, he pitches for the Red Sox.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues.

Alan Embree | OAK | CL – Owned in just 48% of ESPN leagues, Embree is a closer.  Every closer (with a few rare exceptions) should be owned in nearly every league.  Pick up Embree until Huston Street or Justin Duchscherer returns.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues.

Octavio Dotel | KC | CL – Like Embree, Dotel is a closer.  He needs to be owned.  His ownership is up to 70% in ESPN leagues, but that’s not high enough.  Given the choice of the two, take Dotel.  He has a much firmer hold on his job.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues.

Joakim Soria | KC | RP – With Dotel back, Soria is no longer the closer.  He has also been placed on the DL.  Many owners will drop Soria when they put the two together.  Soria still has value though, first as a decent setup man in leagues where they are valuable.  Dotel has an injury history, and one small injury would thrust Soria back into 9th inning duties.  If Dotel gets traded, Soria would also get his job back.  In deep leagues where you can afford to stash him, Soria is a good bet to pick up some more saves before the year is out.
Recommendation – Should be owned in deep leagues where you can afford to stash him.

Dan Johnson | OAK | 1B – Talked about a few weeks ago, but I have to mention him again with the Jason Giambi report today (sorry to everyone who bought low him.  I too am stuck with him now in a couple of leagues).  Johnson has an 85% Contact rate and a 16% Walk rate to go with a 20% Line Drive rate.  His vision problem has been corrected, and Johnson is tearing it up now.  He also has good power, and 25 HRs is a good bet.  He hits in the heart of a good Oakland lineup, so he should have plenty of value, even if he is only eligible at 1B.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all but the shallowest leagues.

Ryan Garko | CLE | 1B – 82% Contact Rate is good for a guy with 25-30 HR power like Garko, but his 5% Walk rate isn’t very good.  It was 7.0% last season (over 209 PAs), so it could improve a bit.  His 23.2% LD rate is very good, but it was just 16% last year.  That might see a little bit of a regression, but Garko could hit .270-ish.  Playing 1B drains a lot of his value, but he could be useful in deeper leagues.
Recommendation – Should be owned in deep 12 and 14-team NL only leagues.  Should be owned in deep 10, 12, and 14-team AL-only leagues.

Alex Gordon | KC | 3B – Like Iwamura, Gordon was part of the Third Basemen discussion last weekend.  Probably has more power, a little less speed, and worse contact skills than Iwamura.  Has potential, especially in keeper leagues.
Recommendation – Should be considered in 10 and owned in 12 and 14-team mixed leagues.  Should be owned in all but the shallowest AL-only leagues.

Tadahito Iguchi | CHW | 2B – His 85% Contact rate and 11.8% Walk rate are the best of his career (they were 80% and 9.6% in 2006).  His 18.1% Line Drive rate is also better than his 15% of 2005, but not as good as his 22.4% LD rate in his rookie year (2004).  His Fly ball rate has risen from 29.2% to 39.4% since then, so the Line Drive rate might remain around 18%.  Put all of this together, and Iguchi’s .250 BABIP and .221 BA just doesn’t make sense.  He also is capable of hitting around 15 HRs and stealing 15 bases, so Iguchi doesn’t deserve to be dropped at the rate he has been.  16% ownership in ESPN leagues is too low for a second baseman capable of hitting .290 with 15 HRs, 15 SBs, and 100 Runs.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 10, 12, and 14-team mixed leagues.  Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

 

Joe Blanton

| OAK | SP – Blanton may be turning the corner in his third year.  Has a 6.72 K/9, 2.08 BB/9, and a 44.8% ground ball rate.  None looks likely to see much of a regression, so Blanton should remain a pretty safe option the rest of the season.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 10, 12, and 14-team mixed leagues.  Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Reggie Willits | LAA | OF – Willits got off to a blazing start, then cooled a bit, and now is beginning to heat up again.  He is a LD machine, both in the majors and minors. He nearly had a 90% Contact rate in the minors last year, and it’s at 82% in the majors this year. He takes a ton of walks and has good speed. A BA well above .300 is very likely. He has 11 SBs so far. He doesn’t have much power, but this is a guy who can help a lot in 3 categories while he has a starting spot. It would be smart for the Angels to keep him starting, but it may not happen once Garrett Anderson returns.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all but the shallowest leagues as long as he has a starting spot.

Fausto Carmona | CLE | SP – Low Ks keeps his value low in all 5×5 leagues, but his 61.3% GB rate helps him out a lot. His BB/9 isn’t good enough to even attempt to compesate for his horrendous K rate.  Has a lot more value in 4×4 leagues (although his WHIP won’t help you and his ERA won’t be great), but the recommendation below is based on 5×5 leagues.
Recommendation: Should be considered in 14-team leagues. Should be considered in 10 and owned in 12 and 14-team AL-only leagues.

Cliff Lee | CLE | SP – All of hype before last season was completely unfounded. Lee just doesn’t have what it takes to be a good pitcher, much less an elite one. For this year, stay away from the low K and GB rates unless you’re in a very deep league.
Recommendation: Should not be owned in mixed leagues. Should be owned in deep 12 and 14-team AL-only leagues.

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