Waiver Wire: National League (Week 6)

Happy Mothers Day to all you celebrating out there. Lots of National League closer action this weekend, but not a lot of great options emerging. Let’s look at the guys worth picking up this week.

National League

Ryan Franklin | STL | CL: Franklin will close in St. Louis while Izzy gets himself right. He doesn’t have the skills to hold down a job full-time, but over the next couple weeks, he has the potential to grab some saves for you. Needs to be owned, but watch for another “Save Speculator” regarding the Cardinals Monday or Tuesday.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Jason Isringhausen | STL | RP: He hasn’t shown closer-level skills this year, but he probably will get the job back at some point. When he does, he’ll be a closer, and they are always worth owning.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Salomon Torres | MIL | CL: Torres got the first crack at the closer job after Gagne was officially removed Sunday. He didn’t do so well, and was replaced in favor of Brian Shouse before he even allowed a run. Shouse allowed one to score and then finished the inning by getting lefty Adam Kennedy to ground out. Manager Ned Yost said “we’ll probably just mix and match.” I’m still considering Guillermo Mota the favorite, but Torres can be owned as well if you need saves.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues, for now.

Guillermo Mota | MIL | CL: Given Torres’ struggles and the fact that I originally considered him the front runner, Mota will probably get the next save opportunity. If he does well, he might get another, and from there could begin to entrench himself as the closer. When managers say that they will go to a committee, when one guy does well he tends to get the majority of the chances. Torres is worth owning too, though, because if Mota doesn’t do well in his first appearance, it might come down to the “mix and match” thing because none of these guys really have the chops to be a closer at this point.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues, for now.

Brian Shouse | MIL | CL: If Mota gets the next opportunity, does well, and starts to entrench himself as the closer (in the short-term, at least), Shouse would lose most of his value. But if Yost actually sticks with the “mix and match” strategy, Shouse might see some save opportunities a la Ryan Rowland-Smith when the ninth inning looks lefty-heavy.
Recommendation: Can be owned in very deep mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team NL-only leagues.

Eric Gagne | MIL | RP: Given the mediocre skills of his potential replacements, I think Gagne will get the job back at some point. Yost seemed sympathetic to him, and this might be considered more of a “mental break” than anything else. I wouldn’t drop him yet, although in shallow leagues, if you need the roster spot, it isn’t the worst decision.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Homer Bailey | CIN | SP: With Matt Belisle struggling, it seems like only a matter of time before Bailey gets the call. Like last year, though, I’m less than optimistic about his chances for success. Last year, in 67.1 innings at Triple-A and eight innings at Advanced-A, he posted just a 7.88 K/9 and 4.42 BB/9. The walks have improved in 46.1 innings this year (2.33 BB/9), but the strikeouts are still low (7.58 K/9). I don’t see how he will manage to keep his K/9 much above 7.00 in the majors, if that. If the newfound control isn’t for real, he could be in trouble. He does have potential, though, so…
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all but shallow NL-only leagues.

Jo-Jo Reyes | ATL | SP: Reyes has shown the ability strike batters out in the minors, but he didn’t in more than 50 major league innings last year (4.80 K/9). Plus, his control isn’t very good. He is more of a groundball pitcher and has potential, so he is worth owning in some leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deep mixed leagues. Should be considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team NL-only leagues.

Manny Parra | MIL | SP: Parra has struggled so far this year, but he’s also been a little unlucky with a .359 BABIP. His 46 percent ground ball rate is good and his 7.16 K/9 is above-average and could easily improve as he adjusts to the majors. His 5.51 BB/9 is worrisome, though. I’m sticking with him in the 10-team mixed league I own him in (though it should be noted it’s a keeper league, and I have him at a great price). His ownership certainly shouldn’t be at 1.6 percent it is in ESPN leagues. I’d pick him up in most leagues and bench him until the control rights itself. He has too much potential to drop now in deeper leagues where great pitchers are scarce.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Mike O’Connor | WAS | SP: O’Connor is interesting. He has a 8.76 K/9 and 2.74 BB/9 in nearly 50 combined innings of Triple-A ball in 2006 and 2008, but had a 5.06 K/9 and 3.86 BB/9 in the majors in 2006 and a 5.80 K/9 and 2.40 BB/9 in Double-A in 2007. Very strange. He was impressive in limited innings to start this year and is worth a look, but there is some downside. He’s also a fly ball pitcher.
Recommendation: Should be owned in deep mixed leagues. Should be considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team NL-only leagues.

Chad Billingsley | LAD | SP: If Billingsley has been dropped in your league, pick him up. His strikeout numbers are fantastic, and while his walk rate isn’t very good, he still has value. Plus, there’s a pretty chance it will lower as the season drags on. Too much talent here to leave it on the Waiver Wire.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Jair Jurrjens | ATL | SP: I still think Jurrjens could benefit from some more time in the minors, but he seems to be in the majors to stay and has some fantasy value. His 7.31 K/9, 2.84 BB/9, and 53 percent ground ball rate are right in line with what he did in Double-A last year. He might regress a little, but he’s worth owning in case he doesn’t.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but shallow leagues.

Ryan Ludwick | STL | OF: Ludwick has some serious power, and it is 100 percent for real. He hasn’t had a HR/FB below 10 percent since his 81 at-bats with the Rangers in 2002, and his HitTracker profile from both 2008 and 2007 shows that he can crush the ball. His fly ball rate is currently only 41 percent and his 25 percent HR/FB is too high, but if he readjusts to his career 47 percent fly ball rate, this production could continue.

His .443 BABIP is far too high and he doesn’t have very good contact rates, so an adjustment to .250 or so is in order. He could still hit 20-25 home runs (given 500 at-bats, with the potential for a few more) and grab a couple of steals. He has to battle for playing time with Chris Duncan, Rick Ankiel, Skip Schumaker and Brian Barton, but when he plays he bats cleanup and should be good for RBIs and runs. You could do much worse than Ludwick right now, especially if you need power.
Recommendation: Should be considered in 12-team and owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Cristian Guzman | WAS | MI: The .322 BABIP might be a little too high (Marcels projected .303 and Bill James .316), but that .308 batting average is mostly for real. His 92 percent contact rate is, however, significantly better than his career 85 percent mark and could regress. Still, a .290 batting average and eight or so homers and five-10 steals out of a middle infielder batting second isn’t bad at all.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Juan Pierre | LAD | OF: Pierre is owned in just 53 percent of FOX leagues and 56 percent of CBS leagues. Not acceptable. Yeah, he’s splitting time, but a few less at-bats doesn’t make him 40 percent less valuable. Still will get a good number of at-bats, steal bases, score runs, and hit for a high average.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Mike Cameron | MIL | OF: In the four years (2002-2005) not playing in PETCO that we have batted ball data on, Cameron had a HR/FB rate lower than 14.5 percent just once. It is 17 percent this year, and he always hits a lot of fly balls. The average won’t be there, but a .255 batting average with 20-25 home runs over 500 at-bats is pretty likely for Cameron. He could also steal 15-20 bases and score a bunch of runs batting second with a decent RBI count. Definitely an overlooked guy right now.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 10-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Jose Bautista | PIT | 3B/OF: Baustista’s power has always been for real, and HitTracker shows that he can hit the ball a long way. The batting average won’t be much higher than .250, but he’s batting second a decent bit, might score some runs, grab a reasonable amount of RBIs, and hit 15-plus homers given 500 at-bats.
Recommendation: Should be strongly considered in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team NL-only leagues.

Chris Iannetta | COL | C: Iannetta is a guy with a lot of potential playing the scarcest position in the game. The contact rate isn’t very good, but it was much better in the minors and has room for growth. He has a good BABIP history and is showing decent power this year. The current average is being driven by the .444 BABIP, and his final batting average might end up around .240 or .250 unless he keeps the BABIP above .300 or improves the contact rate. He could hit a dozen homers, though, given 500 at-bats, and has some decent potential for upward mobility. He’s getting playing time and batting seventh, so he might be worth a look in two-catcher leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team, two-catcher mixed leagues. Should be owned in all two-catcher NL-only leagues. Can be ignored in single-catcher leagues.

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