Eric Chavez l Oakland l DH/IF
The Oakland A’s surprised us a bit this weekend when they cut designated hitter Jack Cust loose for the second time since the end of the 2009 season. Instead of Cust as the team’s primary DH and part-time outfielder, the team has chosen former star Eric Chavez as the DH/Utility infielder.
Chavez has been a staple in the organization for more than a decade, but injuries have derailed his once-promising career. By giving him the DH role, the A’s are trying one last shot of getting production from Chavez’s bat; that’s sounds easy enough.
Since 2007, Chavez has played in just 124 games. Aside from the injury concerns are production concerns. He is no longer the .270/.350/.500 hitter he once was, and is more likely to hit .250/.330/.470. Those numbers are decent, but only if sustained over a larger period of time.
If you have the room to stash him on your bench, Chavez may provide positional flexibility should he gain eligibility at multiple positions as the season progresses. Otherwise, keep tabs on him, especially in a deeper AL-only league, as a healthy-enough Eric Chavez is capable of putting up 20 home runs and driving in some runs.
Travis Buck l Oakland l OF
In another tidbit of Oakland A’s news, projected starting outfielder Coco Crisp was placed on the DL prior to the start of the season with a broken pinkie. In his place, the A’s have turned to Travis Buck to start the season. Buck, 26, has bounced around the upper levels of the organization—appearing in 159 games since 2007.
His slash line of .257/.336/.435 is largely average, and he does not do one thing particularly well. Despite his 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame, he has shown little power and is not a stolen base threat. The one positive is his patience with a walk rate around 10 percent.
There are plenty of Travis Buck types available on the wire, so don’t be in a rush to grab him in any format. Also factor in that Crisp’s injury is not considered serious, so he will be taking Buck’s place when healed. That said, if you are completely desperate this early in the season, Buck is going to get some at-bats and does get on base at a decent clip.
Dontrelle Willis l Detroit l P
Perhaps no star in recent memory has fallen as quickly as Dontrelle Willis. With issues both on and off the field, Willis has gone from World Series star to fighting for a roster spot in just a few seasons. On the other hand, we all love a comeback story and Willis is attempting to write one this season.
Since joining the Tigers in 2008, Willis has gone 1-6 in 15 games with 63 walks in just 57.2 innings; terrible. Nonetheless, his performance this spring was good enough for the Tigers that they shipped Nate Robertson to the Marlins, while picking up over $9 million of his $10 million dollar salary.
It’s easy to see why the Tigers are giving him this opportunity. Willis is left-handed, newly turned 28 years old, and owed a lot of money. As for fantasy owners, Willis is a wild card, but that’s what early season waiver-wire moves are all about; buy low in hopes of reaping big rewards or selling high.
It also helps that Willis will face the Royals in his first two turns through the rotation. If you have a space on your staff in a deeper AL-only league, he’s worth the flier. If he starts off hot you can sell on the hopes that he is regaining his old form, or you can keep him if you believe that for yourself. If he falters, he will be an easy drop.
Taylor Teagarden l Texas l C
Whenever one player goes down with injury, another player ultimately benefits from the newly found playing time. With the Rangers placing Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the DL, Taylor Teagarden is the beneficiary of some increased reps.
Even if Saltalamacchia returns in 15 days, Teagarden may be worth the look in the deepest of leagues. Saltalamacchia has not played in more than 93 games in a season, and has been unimpressive (.701 OPS) even when healthy. On the other hand, Teagarden is just as questionable; however, he is the healthy player right now, and is likely to get the bulk of the playing time over new back-up Matt Treanor.
He is three years removed from his breakout season of 2007, and won’t live up to the hype he once had, but few catching prospects do. If Teagarden is able to just be an average hitter, he presents a decent option as a fantasy catcher in a large AL-only environment.
Joba Chamberlain l New York l P
Yes, that Joba Chamberlain. Yes, the onewho was not chosen as Yankees’ fifth starter this offseason. Since “losing” to Phil Hughes in the fifth starter’s race this spring, Chamberlain has been discarded and ignored in many fantasy leagues, especially shallow mixed leagues. However, because he has eligibly as a starter and phenomenal rates as reliever, Chamberlain is the ultimate swing-man for your staff.
While I think Chamberlain, would make a fine starter if given a true chance, we know he is a really good relief pitcher. In 52 games as a reliever, Chamberlain has a 1.60 ERA—striking out 81 batters in 62 innings. That’s good enough for a K/9 of 11.8. Another positive is Chamberlain is without restrictions for the first time in his major league career. There are no more Joba Rules, which frees him up for a full workload in any role. If he remains a reliever, you can simply rotate him in the place of a starting pitcher who is off and get some production from a spot that would otherwise be unused.
In addition to all this, Phil Hughes, who “beat” Chamberlain, is likely to be shut down at some point in the season. This means Chamberlain could return to the rotation to take his spot or another spot vacated due to injury. Be quick to pick up Chamberlain in larger leagues, but also some shallow ones that put value on strikeouts and holds.