Matt Diaz | Atlanta | OF
True Talent: .292/.340/.440
Next Week Forecast: 0.8 HR, 4 Runs, 4 RBI, .295 BA, 0.6 SB
The knock on Diaz has always been his struggles against righties (career .728 OPS vs. RHP, .893 OPS vs. LHP), something that hasn’t changed in 2009 (.790 OPS vs. RHP, .990 vs. LHP). What has changed is his PT, thanks to injuries to Ryan Church and Nate McLouth. Diaz has played against everyone the past two weeks, and has hit well, but stats don’t lie, and he’ll regress. Plus, Church is healthy, with McLouth not far behind, on target for an Aug. 31 return, at which point Diaz will slide back into a platoon, making him suitable for 10-team NL leagues and only the deepest of mixed leagues.
Eric O. Young | Colorado | 2B/OF
True Talent: N/A
Next Week Forecast: N/A
If you remember his dad, E.Y. Jr. brings much the same game: excellent speed (303 SB in five minor-league seasons), a decent batting eye (.71 BB/K in minors), but not much pop (.293/.385/.416). He’s here to replace Dexter Fowler, who hit the DL, and his likely 2B eligibility in many leagues coupled with his steals makes him an immediate add. The only question is how long he’ll play: Fowler shouldn’t be out much longer than the minimum, and Carlos Gonzalez’s hand won’t keep him out all that long. He’s likely to remain with the Rockies once rosters expand but may be on the bench then. Grab Young in any league where you need steals, but don’t lean on him.
Carlos Ruiz | Philadelphia | C
True Talent: .248/.334/.380
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .244 BA, 0.1 SB
Ruiz’s .289/.354/.488 line in 2006 is starting to look like a statistical anomaly, because he’s given back gains across the board every year since. The puzzle is that his secondary stats have generally improved—his K/BB grew from .68 to 1.18 in that span, and his contact rate also ticked upwards from 85 to 88%. The answer lies in his hit trajectories, as his LD% fell from 19.4% to 16.8% and his GB% rose from 46.8% to 54.3%. He’s reversed some of those trends this season, dropping his GB% to 42.4% while maintaining a steady 16.2 LD% and retaining that 1.16 BB/K and 88% contact rate. The result has been the .259/.359/.500 line he’s put up over the last month. True Talent tells you that he’s about where he should be overall, meaning he’s likely to stabilize. You can ride him for a while to see if the hot streak lasts, but keep in mind that TT pegs him as worthy of only 14-team NL leagues and very deep mixed leagues.
Brendan Ryan | St. Louis | SS
True Talent: .272/.326/.374
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .275 BA, 0.5 SB
When Julio Lugo was added, it looked like Ryan’s days were numbered. But LaRussa has played Lugo at 2B instead, partly because Ryan has been so hot, hitting .362/.422/.500 in the past month. The key may be that Ryan’s hitting leadoff or No. 2, in front of Albert Pujols, a great place to hit. The spike in power is awfully strange for a guy who’s traditionally been a singles hitter, but they’ve come mostly via doubles and triples, meaning he’s leveraging his above-average speed to his advantage. True Talent tells you he’s going to taper off, which you’d expect from a guy who’s had a career .265/.326/.345 line. That beneficial lineup spot may help him beat TT projections, but not by much. Once he cools, he’ll be good for 12-team NL leagues and 20-team mixed leagues.
Charlie Haeger | Los Angeles | SP
YTD: 5.8 K/9, 2.3 K/BB, 1.93 ERA
True Talent: 5.5 K/9, 1.2 K/BB, 5.24 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 4.63 ERA
Aren’t knuckleballers fun to watch? Hitters and umpires don’t know where the ball is going—and neither does the pitcher. That’s always something to keep in mind with the purveyors of this dying art; the knuckler is a feel pitch, and they could lose their feel at any time. That’s where those lousy K/BB projections come from, and True Talent tells you he’s gonna lose his feel sometime soon. Pitching for the Dodgers helps him corral wins, and Haeger’s been around for a little while (he turns 26 next month) but not enough to get any consistency. If you like playing roulette, you’ll like Haeger, since he’ll find the black with a baseball about as often as that other little while ball does. More sensible owners will stay away, particularly with Padilla in the fold and Kuroda on the mend.
Garrett Mock | Washington | SP
YTD: 7.8 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 5.23 ERA
True Talent: 7.3 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.85 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 Wins, 5 K, 4.28 ERA
Mock carries the same label as many Nats players: has talent/potential but plays for Washington. Mock’s strikeout numbers make him enticing, and True Talent tells you that he should continue to subtract from his ERA. The control is a tad worrisome, as is the name of the team on his jersey, but Mock’s got a bit of skills in the K department. He’s not a bad addition for a team that only needs to advance in Ks, and can absorb the occasional bad outing expected from a guy in only his first full season in the bigs. Ten-team NL-only leagues can find some value here, but deeper mixed-league teams should only take him on if they don’t mind the risk.
Daniel McCutchen | Pittsburgh | SP
YTD: 6.9 K/9, 3.8 K/BB, 3.47 ERA
True Talent: N/A
Next Week Forecast: N/A
McCutchen’s name is one that has been bandied about for September callups by the Pirates, and more than likely, he’ll make The Show. He’s not a top-notch prospect for them, but he does offer some very nice skills. He gets that sweet K/BB ratio not from his borderline strikeout skills, but from low walk rates (1.9 BB/9 in his minor-league career). He may not be quite good enough for you to think about adding him as a potential mixed-league keeper, but he could still pick up some wins for the Bucs down the stretch with a handful of Ks. If he’s not been rostered already, NL keeper leagues should watch those September callups to see if he’s there, while other owners can gamble on those Ks or watch him for a start or two to see how he does.
Brett Myers | Philadelphia | RP
YTD: 6.5 K/9, 2.3 K/BB, 4.66 ERA
True Talent: 7.5 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 4.19 ERA
Next Week Forecast: N/A
Among the potential fixes for the problem called “Brad Lidge,” Myers is on the comeback trail and could take over at the back end of the ‘pen, since Philly’s rotation is fairly strong. Myers has closed before, and has looked very good in his minor-league outings. And Madson has struggled in his save opportunities, blowing five chances, so Myers is a really good gamble for teams scrapping for saves and a definite insurance plan for Lidge owners. At the very least, True Talent shows you he’ll offer some Ks and a decent enough ERA that you won’t regret the add.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.