Waiver Wire: American League

Welcome to the first Waiver Wire of the season! Every week, I’ll look at players from each league and pick out some who would be worthwhile pickups. Please be aware that the recommendations given are rough estimates. If you’re in a head-to-head league where you’re employing a strategy like the one I discussed a few weeks ago, Carlos Gomez could be owned in a shallow mixed league, even though my recommendation says the minimum is a 12 or 14-team league.

Please adjust accordingly. These recommendations are simply a guideline, for comparative purposes; they give a rough estimate of each player’s value in a vacuum.

Before we start, I’d like to remind you of a few fairly obvious tips when considering who to pick up.

Don’t pick up a pitcher simply because he has a good start. One start is too small a sample size. You shouldn’t be changing your opinions of players for at least another few weeks (except for guys who get injured). Also, I won’t mention them all here, but anybody with a job closing should be owned in all leagues except the absolute shallowest of mixed leagues.

All this being said, let’s look at the players!

American League

Mark Lowe | SEA | CL: With J.J. Putz on the DL, Lowe should close most games. He hasn’t been healthy in two years, but some have been raving about his stuff. He’s a closer regardless and is worth a pickup in all leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues

J.J. Putz | SEA | CL: Putz has actually been dropped in nearly 2,000 Yahoo! leagues over the past two days. If someone in your league dropped him, first pick him up immediately. After that, you might want to seek out a little more competitive league. He’s worth keeping even if you’re forced to use an active spot on him. My colleague Chris Neault had this to say about him over at his Disabled List Informer blog: “I would expect a 15-day DL stint, followed by a week or two of gradual throwing before returning to action.”
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues

Jeremy Accardo | TOR | CL: B.J. Ryan is slated to come off the DL in about a week, but he will share closing duties with Accardo for “some time,” according to the Toronto Star. With all the misinformation that comes out of Toronto, Accardo needs to be owned until we’re sure Ryan is completely healthy.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues

Dan Wheeler/Al Reyes | TB | RP – As I noted a couple weeks ago, Troy Percival is a big injury risk this year. Al Reyes might get the first crack at the job, but he’s also a trade candidate and less talented than Wheeler. In deeper leagues, these guys make decent speculative picks.
Recommendation: Should be considered in deep 12-team and owned in most 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team AL-only leagues.

Scot Shields | LAA | RP: After reading Chris Neault’s analysis of Francisco Rodriguez, I’m a bit concerned. Shields has plenty of talent and would make a fine closer. He also makes a fine speculative pick. Feel free to take him in shallower leagues than I have listed if it makes sense in the context of your league and strategy.
Recommendation: Should be considered in 12-team and owned in most 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all but shallow AL-only leagues.

Evan Longoria | TB | 3B – If Longoria was dropped in your league after his demotion, pick him up if you have a bench spot available. I talked about Longoria the other day, so check it out for more detailed info on him.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Carlos Gomez | MIN | OF: A hot pickup since he’s claimed the center field job in Minnesota and because he has blazing speed. He had an 82 percent stolen base success rate in 219 games at Double-A through the majors (excluding his 12 for 13 since the beginning of spring). He won’t hit for much power, though, and the batting average won’t be great. He also doesn’t have a great history of walks, so he’ll be a little limited with the steals potential. He does have a 42 percent stolen base attempt rate at Double-A or above, and although it won’t be that high in the majors this year, if he’s given the green light he certainly isn’t afraid to run. He’s also leading off, so he’ll have some value with runs.
Recommendation: Can be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all but shallow AL-only leagues.

Mike Napoli | TEX | C: Napoli didn’t get drafted in a lot of leagues, but he has the potential to be a No. 1 catcher. He strikes out a lot, but he has good power for a catcher, takes a lot of walks, and hits in a pretty good lineup. The batting average won’t be very pretty, but how many catchers is it pretty for? If you missed out on the top catchers in your draft, Napoli is a good guy to consider.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all two-catcher leagues. Should be considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team, one-catcher mixed leagues.

Jose Guillen | KC | OF: Guillen’s suspension has been pushed back and might get dropped completely. He is one of those unspectacular guys who often goes overlooked, but he has solid skills still. He’s could hit 20 or 25 home runs and hit over .280. Plus, he hits in a prime RBI spot, albeit for a subpar team. He’ll provide different value from Gomez, but he could have more.
Recommendation: Should be considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all but shallow AL-only leagues.

Aaron Hill | TOR | 2B: Hill is probably owned in your league, but in case he isn’t, I wanted to mention him. Hill is 26 years old now and entering his prime. He has good contact rates, a solid BABIP history, and improving power. He hits in a park that inflates homers by 21 percent for righties, so that will continue to help him if his power continues to improve. He could hit 20-plus home runs and hit near .300. Batting seventh isn’t great for his RBI and runs potential, but he hit mostly fifth, sixth and seventh last year and had 87 runs and 78 RBIs. He just needs to continue playing nearly every day.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Brian Bannister | KC | SP: I love that Bannister is into sabermetrics and am excited to follow him this season, but he’s not a guy I’m going to have on my fantasy team. He really doesn’t do anything well. He doesn’t strike out many batters, doesn’t have great control, and doesn’t get many ground balls. Don’t let his fast start fool you.
Recommendation: Should only be owned in very deep mixed leagues. Should be strongly considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team AL-only leagues.

Andy Sonnanstine | TB | SP: Undrafted in most leagues, Sonnanstine is a good pitcher. He has a decent strikeout rate and great control with a little potential for upward mobility with the strikeout rate. His 61 percent left-on-base rate and .329 BABIP last year were unlucky.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Scott Baker | MIN | SP: Another guy with a league average strikeout rate and good control. Solid pickup.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.

Kevin Slowey | MIN | SP: Yet another guy in the Baker/Sonnanstine mold. Might have a little bit more strikeout potential than Baker. He’s injured, though, and might not be back until the end of the month. If you have an open DL slot and need pitching, he’s a decent guy to stash.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues. (Both assuming you can stash him.)

Livan Hernandez | MIN | SP: Yet another Minnesota pitcher. Unlike Baker and Slowey, Livan is awful. 3.96 K/9, 3.48 BB/9, 39 percent GB rate in Arizona last year spells doom for 2008. Stay far away.
Recommendation: Should be owned only in the deepest of AL-only leagues.

Closing thoughts

I’ll be back tomorrow with the National League. Stay tuned!

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