Juan Uribe | San Francisco | UT
True Talent: .252/.298/.419
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .246 BA, 0.1 SB
Uribe’s a very streaky hitter, and that streak is hot right now. He’s hitting .303/.361/.758 on the month, and has started the last 15 games as a result. Uribe’s other benefit is his flexibility—depending on your league’s eligibility restrictions, he could qualify at 2B, SS, and 3B. Clearly, he’s most valuable at those MIF spots, but realize that his numbers are going to drop again, which is what happens when you’ve got a career .29 BB/K ratio. His Achilles heel is that BA, which is how he’ll hurt you. He’s worth riding while you can, but be ready to dump him at the first signs of trouble, as SF has other options and he’ll be back on the bench. True Talent tells you he’s gonna fall off the table at some point, and he’s still a good SS play in 12-team NL-only leagues when that happens, but he’s got to be in the Giants’ lineup to be of value to you.
Jeff Suppan | Milwaukee | SP
YTD: 4.3 K/9, 1.0 K/BB, 5.05 ERA
True Talent: 4.7 K/9, 1.3 K/BB, 5.01 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.1 IP, 0.6 Wins, 6 K, 4.94 ERA
Soup’s an easy punching bag for fans of Brewers (and financial common sense), since he’s making $12.5M for the sort of awful numbers you see here, and will make that same sum in 2010 for what’s likely to be similar production. True Talent’s got him pretty much nailed, with perhaps a few more Ks to be expected down the stretch. Milwaukee’s a formidable offensive club, so he’s more likely to pick up a win than other similarly subpar pitchers, but he’s still only managed six wins this season. If you’ve got him on your roster, you’d better be an NL owner in at least a 14-team league, since he’s not worth the risk otherwise. Innings eaters are nice, but you’d like a better return on your ratios than this.
Daniel Murphy | New York | 1B/OF
True Talent: .262/.322/.406
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 3 Runs, 3 RBI, .265 BA, 0.3 SB
Murphy has hit two home runs this month, bringing his SLG over .400 for the first time since May. That should tell you plenty about his 1B value, but he should also qualify in the OF, where he’ll bring your team a touch more. He’s actually got halfway decent speed—20 SBs in 259 minor-league games—but his spot in the middle of the Mets’ order hasn’t given him the chance to run. At 24, he’s young enough to still develop more power and speed, and he’s hitting .273/.306/.454 in the second half. Just note that the surge has brought him right around his True Talent numbers, so he’s not going to suddenly go through the roof. No matter where you put him in your lineup, he’s an NL-only player, where his versatility makes him suitable for 15-team leagues.
Clayton Richard | San Diego | SP
YTD: 6.8 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.88 ERA
True Talent: 5.2 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 5.26 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.1 IP, 0.3 Wins, 3 K, 5.73 ERA
Rob and I discussed Richard in the comments soon after his swap, but I figured it was time for another look. Since coming to a different team, stadium and league, Richard hasn’t been so great. His numbers have declined across the board, with the rise in HR/9 from 1.0 to 1.4 perhaps the most surprising drop from a guy who moved from The Cell to PETCO. Most worrying has been the spike in walks, from 3.7 to 5.2 BB/9, which has more than offset the uptick from 6.7 to 7.0 K/9. That’s all led to a rise in ERA from 4.65 to 5.40, which isn’t what’s supposed to happen when a player moves from the AL to the NL. He’s only logged two quality starts out of his eight turns on the mound from the Padres, and seems to be getting worse with each one. In spite of all that, True Talent tells you he’s got even farther to fall. He’s got talent and should turn it around next year, but he’s not someone you want on your roster in 2009, unless you’re in a deep NL-only league—and desperate.
Ronnie Belliard | Los Angeles | 2B/3B
True Talent: .269/.327/.410
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 2 Runs, 1 RBI, .263 BA, 0.1 SB
There’s something about wearing Dodger blue that brings out the best in some guys. The Belly has been hitting .314/.333/.543 since putting on a Dodger uni, but that’s in only 10 games. He’s been helped by the injury to Casey Blake, who should be back fairly soon, so keep that in mind if you want to ride Ronnie while he’s scorching. Also realize that he’s struck out 8 times in those 10 games, against just one walk, and that will catch up with him soon. A short-term addition in NL leagues, Ronnie’s fun to watch when he’s slugging, but he’s headed for the bench as soon as Blake’s hamstring heals up.
Wade LeBlanc | San Diego | SP
YTD: 3.5 K/9, 0.7 K/BB, 5.01 ERA
True Talent: 6.7 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 4.90 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.2 IP, 0.7 Wins, 9 K, 4.79 ERA
Don’t let that YTD line fool you, as it’s dragged down by two bad outings early in the season, when he racked up 7 ER in 4.1 IP. LeBlanc was promoted from Triple-A Portland at the end of August, and has looked good in two of his three starts since then. Though he doesn’t have anything better than a great change-up, LeBlanc succeeds with fantastic control (3.41 K/BB in minors) and even manages a fair share of strikeouts (8.3 K/9 in minors). He’s a well-regarded arm in their system—Baseball America only ranks two other SD pitchers higher—and he could have a promising future. Remember that he still pitches for San Diego, so the wins will be few and far between, but he’s not a bad play for ratios and occasional Ks. Deep NL keeper leagues should have him on the outside of their radar screens, and he’ll be a good 2009 addition to NL-only leagues 10 teams and deeper.
Felipe Paulino | Houston | SP
YTD: 8.3 K/9, 2.6 K/BB, 6.34 ERA
True Talent: 7.3 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 5.17 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.3 Wins, 5 K, 4.62 ERA
If Paulino hadn’t missed all of last season with a bad shoulder, we’d all be talking about him a lot more. He’s got a heater that has touched triple digits and a solid curve, but is still crafting a third pitch, which he’ll need to be a successful starter. His struggles to find that pitch led to an ugly 6.0 BB/9 in the minors, but his 7.5 K/9, 0.3 HR/9, and 7.8 H/9 all added up to a 3.12 ERA in Triple-A. In the majors, he’s bounced between the rotation and the pen this season, and has had some bad luck as a starter, winning just one of his 13 starts despite some occasionally good outings. In his past two starts, he put up almost identical lines—6.0 IP, 2 ER, with 6 K in one start and 7 K in the other—but he lost them both. He’s been susceptible to the HR, with 1.9 HR/9 this season, and gave up three longballs in those last two starts. That makes him a risk to explode your ratios, even if his Ks are tempting. NL owners in 15-team leagues can use him with moderate confidence, while other owners who want to gamble will face a high-risk/high-reward situation.
Cameron Maybin | Florida | OF
True Talent: .253/.335/.403
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 1 Runs, 1 RBI, .249 BA, 0.2 SB
He’s back in the majors, and Maybin looks much improved after his stint in the minors, where he hit .319/.399/.463. His plate discipline improved to .65 BB/K (from a career .51), something he’s carried over to the majors, as he’s got five BBs and four Ks in his six starts since returning, hitting .350/.462/.750 in that span. His value’s in his speed and, while he has yet to swipe a bag since coming back, he will. That weekly projection is only based on a 20% PT share, but he’s bound to get more than that while he’s hot, and those numbers will be stronger. Teams needing SBs (and who doesn’t?) should grab him now, particularly in keeper leagues, while others can hold off unless they’re in NL leagues 14 teams or deeper, since his BA and power aren’t that impressive … yet.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.