Waiver Wire: American League

Here’s the American League for the week. I realize that several trades have occurred so far, but I’m going to handle those separately and leave those affected out of the Waiver Wires. I’ll look at the Kenny Lofton and Tadahito Iguchi trades Saturday or Sunday.

Jon Lester | BOS | SP – A hot pickup now that he’s in Boston, Lester just doesn’t look like a good pickup. If he pitches well this weekend, he could keep his spot, and Jason Gabbard would be demoted. Lester wasn’t very impressive last year with a 1.40 K/BB and 40% ground ball rate. He has put up only a 1.64 K/BB in Triple-A this year, so I wouldn’t expect him to do much better in the majors. Probably won’t put up much better than a league average strikeout line.
Recommendation – Should be owned only in very deep mixed leagues. Should be owned in 14-team AL-only leagues.

Andrew Sonnanstine | TB | SP – If you need a starter, there still doesn’t look to be a better free option in the American League than Andrew Sonnanstine. Until he gives us a reason to doubt him, I think he can be owned in all leagues.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues for now.

Mike Piazza | OAK | C – Off to a hot start, talked about a lot by me in the past. Needs to be owned.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues.

Joe Saunders | LAA | SP – Six starts, sub-3.00 ERA. His LIPS ERA is 4.98, though, and his 4.58 K/9 is terrible. A 48% xGB% is nice and his 3.13 BB/9 is all right. There looks to be room for improvement in the strikeout area, given his 8.96 K/9 in 84 Triple-A innings this year, but it was under 6.50 in Triple-A last year. While the possibility exists, I wouldn’t bank on Saunders improving his LIPS ERA much, and his ERA should begin to decline dramatically.
Recommendation – Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned only in deep AL-only leagues.

Huston Street | OAK | CL – Being eased back into the role, but Street should be closing within a week or so.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues.

Alan Embree | OAK | CL – Hang onto him for one more week.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues.

Dustin McGowan | TOR | SP – His ERA and LIPS ERA match nearly identically, so he is a reasonable pickup. His DIPS WHIP is 1.40, though. His 6.82 strikeout rate is pretty good, and his minor league numbers support it. His control wasn’t this good in the minors this year or last, though, so he could see a bit of a decline there, forcing his LIPS ERA into the high 4s.
Recommendation – Should be considered in 12 and owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10, 12, and 14-team AL-only leagues.

Jamie Walker | BAL | CL(?) – Baltimore probably will go with a committee approach while Chris Ray is out. Jamie Walker is having the best year of the O’s relievers, so he figures to be a good bet for some save chances.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10, 12, and 14-team AL-only leagues.

Danys Baez | BAL | CL(?) – Baez hasn’t been great, but if the O’s go with a lefty/righty platoon, Baez might make the cut as the righty half.
Recommendation – Should be considered in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10, 12, and 14-team AL-only leagues.

Jason Giambi | NYY | 1B – Pick him up.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues.

Jason Botts | TEX | UT – In case you missed it, a couple of weeks ago Jacob Jackson revealed Jason Botts as the winner of his search for the next Jack Cust. Botts has nice power and has always taken a good amount of walks (he’s up at 17% this year!). His contact rate doesn’t figure to go much higher than 75%, but he could very well be the next Jack Cust. If Sammy Sosa is traded, Botts could become the Rangers’ full-time DH.
Recommendation – Should be owned in deep mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12 and 14-team AL-only leagues.

Joaquin Benoit | TEX | RP – If Eric Gagne is traded, Benoit is not traded, and Akinori Otsuka will be out for a while, Benoit would likely take up the role for a while (possibly until the end of the year, depending on the severity of Otsuka’s injury). His strikeout rate has always been good, and this year he has improved his control considerably. As long as it keeps up, his 3.50 K/BB makes him a fine candidate as a closer. I think the chances of him closing next week are better than any other setup man in the game right now.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues, for now.

Joakim Soria | KC | RP – Well, now it seems like Zack Greinke may not be a lock for closer should Octavio Dotel be traded. Joakim Soria now appears to be the favorite, although nothing is for certain. Word is that Dotel is looking for an extension, so there may not even be a trade. Just watch the situation carefully, and if Dotel is traded, Soria should immediately picked up in all leagues.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 12 and 14-team mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues, for now.

Cliff Lee | CLE | SP – Lee was never likely to become the front-line starter that many expected him to be. His strikeout rate is low and he doesn’t get many ground balls. The thing saving him last year was his good BB/9, but this year it was up to 3.44. Still has LIPS ERA was only 4.97, much lower than his 6.38 ERA. The Indians sent him down, though, and he really isn’t good enough to hang onto in shallow and medium leagues.
Recommendation – Can safely be dropped except in deep leagues.

Mike Napoli | LAA | C – Napoli was a guy I liked coming into the year&mdasha lot as a baseball player but not as much as a fantasy player. I still have that opinion of him. He showed great power last year, with eight of 16 home runs hit past 398 true feet (according to HitTracker). This year just three of nine have been hit that far, but last year he managed to hit one 465 and another 444 true feet. He hit 52% fly balls last year and 46% this year. His power is good for a catcher. His line drive rate is up from 14% last year to 18% this year, just a little under league average. He takes a lot of walks—16% last year and 12% this year—and his contact rate has improved to 72.5%. Not great, but better than 66%. His batting average probably won’t go over .260, but Napoli makes a good option as a catcher in certain leagues.
Recommendation – Should be considered in 10 and 12 and owned in 14-team, single-catcher mixed leagues. Should be owned in all single-catcher, AL-only leagues. Should be owned in all two-catcher leagues.

I feel like I’m forgetting a guy or two. If I remember I’ll post about them tomorrow.

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