Waiver Wire: National League (Week 3)

A quick note before we get going. Frank Thomas was released by the Blue Jays today. If he latches on with another team in a full-time role — a decent possibility — his fantasy value would pick right back up. If his owner jumped the gun and ditched him, I would pick him up. He is capable of hitting .270 with 30 home runs.

National League

Manny Acosta | ATL | CL – With Soriano and Peter Moylan on the DL, Acosta is the closer in Atlanta. He has control problems and will likely be replaced when Soriano comes off the DL on Tuesday, so he isn’t more than a one or two day pickup. Until then, though, he’s worth owning in all leagues. Afterwards, those in deeper leagues can hang onto him in case Soriano struggles upon returning or gets injured again.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues.

Rafael Soriano | ATL | CL – Likely coming off the DL on Tuesday and will probably take over the closer’s role immediately. Hopefully he wasn’t dropped in your league, but if he was, grab him now.
Recommendation – Should be owned in all leagues.

Doug Brocail | HOU | RP – There’s been talk of Brocail taking over with Jose Valverde “struggling,” but this seems unlikely. Valverde has great skills and is just getting unlucky. Brocail doesn’t have very good skills and wouldn’t make a good closer. The only concern is that the Astros aren’t the most intelligently run club. Still, I’m not adding Brocail unless I’m in a deep league where all the other viable speculatory picks are taken.
Recommendation – Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team NL-only leagues.

Max Scherzer | ARZ | SP – Getting hype around the blogosphere, but I’m not completely sold on Scherzer. His 15.35 K/9 and 1.59 BB/9 in three minor league starts thus far is obviously fantastic, but consider that he topped out in Double-A last year and struggled with his control. His 9.29 K/9 was good, but his 4.89 BB/9 was not. It’s too early to say he’s turned a corner, but he certainly has potential and makes a decent pick in deeper leagues.

The problem now is that Doug Davis is aiming for a May 9 return, Randy Johnson is back, and Micah Owings is pitching very well. It would take an injury or for Owings to pitch poorly for a spot to open up. An injury is possible for anyone, and it’s a distinct possibility for RJ, but Owings is the only pitcher who could legitimately lose his job due to talent. I don’t see Brandon Webb and Dan Haren losing their jobs, and Doug Davis makes $7.75 million this year and $8.75 million next year, making a release improbable.
Recommendation – Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team NL-only leagues.

Micah Owings | ARZ | SP – Owings was very boring last year with a 6.25 K/9, 2.95 BB/9, and 37% ground ball rate. This year, he’s come on very strong with a 8.69 K/9 and 2.29 BB/9 through three starts. Small sample size, but this isn’t completely out of nowhere. In 74 Double-A innings in 2006, Owings posted a 8.35 K/9 and 2.06 BB/9. I definitely see some regression taking place given his 2006 Triple-A numbers and 2007 MLB numbers, but Owings still might have some mixed league value this year. If you have an open bench spot in shallower leagues, there are worse guys to speculate on.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team NL-only leagues.

Hong-Chi Kuo | LAD | SP – Kuo has always been able to strike out batters; his problems have come from his below-average (though not awful) walk rates and his health issues. Taking over for Esteban Loaizia, he could be a decent pickup in NL-only leagues. The control is still a problem, but Kuo is 26 now and entering his prime. Interesting guy to watch.
Recommendation – Should only be owned in deep mixed leagues. Should be considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team NL-only leagues.

Wandy Rodriguez | HOU | SP – Wandy has displayed good skills in the past and started this year very strong, but he’s now hit the DL. If he was dropped, or was never picked up to begin with, he might be worth stashing.
Recommendation – Should only be owned in deep mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team NL-only leagues.

Randy Wolf | SD | SP – Fly ball pitcher, but PETCO should help that. He struck out over 8 batters per game last year and is doing so already this year, but that could come down closer to his career 7.52 mark. Control is right on par with his career at 3.32. Getting lucky so far, but he has decent skills.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team NL-only leagues.

Conor Jackson | ARZ | 1B – We’re still in small sample size territory, but Jackson is looking good so far. Batting average is being driven by 94% contact rate that has been 87% over his career and .326 BABIP that has been .299 over his career. He’ll be 26 in a couple weeks and should be entering his prime, but these will probably regress a little.

He showed great raw power in 2006, regressed in 2007, and is now showing flashes of that power again. His fly ball rate (49%) is higher than it was the past two years (43% and 41%), but even at 43%, he could hit 25 home runs. He could also be good for a .300 batting average, and Arizona’s lineup, his power, and high walk rates should help with RBIs and runs. Very good pickup here with some upside.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 10-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Mike Jacobs | FLA | 1B – Jacobs has six home runs so far, but his power really doesn’t seem to be evolving, looking at his HitTracker profile. It’s still pretty good, but this spike appears to be artificially inflated. The FB% is up to 50% when it was 40% in 2006 and 46% in 2007 (making growth possible, but we’re still at too small a sample size to make that judgment), and the HR/FB is at 24%, up from 13% and 11% in 2006 and 2007. The batting average is being driven by a too-high .341 BABIP. Expect more along the lines of .270 batting average, 25 home run production.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all but shallow NL-only leagues.

Andy LaRoche | LAD | 3B – Will be back in early May. Nomar Garciaparra is back already, but there’s still a chance LaRoche will overtake him. If he doesn’t immediately, I’d have to think he will before the All-Star break. Worth a pickup in certain leagues or if you have a spare bench spot to speculate with.
Recommendation – Should be owned in deep mixed leagues. Should be considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team NL-only leagues.

Khalil Greene | SD | SS – Greene is doing nothing differently than he did in 2007 besides hitting more fly balls and line drives and fewer ground balls (good things). He also hasn’t hit a homer yet, but we’re three weeks into the season. Don’t be dropping a guy who hit 27 last year. In the Pizza Cutter article we linked to yesterday, we showed that home run rate doesn’t stabilize until 300 plate appearances. Greene is at 75 so far. He should be fine.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 10-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Mark DeRosa | CHC | MI/CI/OF – Batting average being driven by inflated power. 49% fly ball rate is much higher than it has been before and should regress. 13% HR/FB is too high, given the lack of raw power his HitTracker profile shows. Don’t change preseason expectations. Expect .290 average, 10-12 home runs production going forward.
Recommendation – Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team NL-only leagues.

John Bowker | SF | OF – Bowker is somewhat interesting, but not really worth an add. In Double-A last year: 80% contact rate, 17% HR/FB, 29% OF FB%, .348 BABIP, 22% LD%. Not bad, although the lack of fly ball limits his power potential. Plus, this was all in Double-A. He won’t help with steals, won’t play everyday, and really won’t excel anywhere. You’re really only looking at a .260 or so batting average with maybe ten homers. NL-only material.
Recommendation – Should be avoided in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 14-team NL-only leagues.

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