Waiver Wire: NL

Bud Norris | Houston | SP
YTD: 12.0 K/9, 4.0 K/BB, 3.00 ERA
True Talent: N/A
Next Week Forecast: N/A
Baseball America called Norris the Astros’ No. 2 prospect, and he’s earned that label in 2009, putting up some nice ratios (8.4 K/9, 2.11 K/BB, 2.62 ERA) for Triple-A Round Rock. He needs to control his walks (4.0 BB/9), but otherwise he’s been one of Houston’s best minor-league arms this year. When Oswalt strained his back this week, the Astros called up Norris to start in his place. It now looks like Oswalt might not miss a start, but Houston released Russ Ortiz Thursday, so Norris could slide into that rotation spot instead.

Whatever happens, Norris should be up to stay and get regular work, but his value is obviously higher as a starter. Keeper leagues should be all over Norris, while NL-only teams deeper than 10 teams could make him a speculative pickup. With 120 innings in the minors already, he won’t see heavy usage down the stretch, but should offer strikeouts and a good shot at some wins.

Julio Lugo | St. Louis | SS
YTD: .306/.365/.440
True Talent: .264/.331/.369
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .266 BA, 0.8 SB
Forgotten among the Holliday trade, Lugo may ultimately be just as important to the Cards, at least defensively. He gives them a solid glove up the middle, but what fantasy owners are interested in are his offensive skills, which aren’t significant. He’s been on fire since joining St. Louis, hitting .400/.423/.760 in his first five games, though that’s clearly not going to continue. His days of double-digit steals and cracking a .400 SLG are past, so he’s going to slip slowly into the west, but he’s got a bit of value in a strong Cardinals lineup. Ride him in the short term if you dare, but he’s best suited for NL leagues with 14 teams and deeper.

Ryan Garko | San Francisco | 1B
YTD: .280/.358/.455
True Talent: .274/.348/.441
Next Week Forecast: 1.0 HR, 3 Runs, 4 RBI, .278 BA, 0.0 SB
I’ve followed the Giants’ spinning Wheel of 1B Fortune in this column, and the trade for Garko indicates he’s currently The Man at first. You might think he’d be on the short end of a platoon with lefty Ishikawa, but San Francisco didn’t trade prospect Scott Barnes for a player who’s going to hit a third of the time. Expect Garko to see action against all left-handed pitchers and a good chunk of right-handed pitchers, boosting his value considerably. Paul Singman sees him as a good add for 12-team mixed or deeper league, but I’m not quite that optimistic. True Talent pegs him as the 17th-best NL 1B in OPS; that and a shared playing time situation makes him rosterable for 12-team NL leagues and mixed leagues deeper than 15 teams.

Jon Garland | Arizona | SP
YTD: 4.0 K/9, 1.3 K/BB, 4.42 ERA
True Talent: 4.4 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.62 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 Wins, 3 K, 4.54 ERA
Garland’s overall numbers this year haven’t been stellar, but he’s on a nice run, with quality starts in 7 of his last 8 starts, and a 2.92 ERA. The problem is, the anemic Arizona offense hasn’t supported him enough, and he’s only won twice in that stretch. True Talent shows you he’s not going to offer much in the way of strikeouts, and his ERA could rise a tad. He’s one of the Diamondbacks starters who’s on the trading block, but any deal is likely to come after the deadline, but playing for a better team could be just the thing to boost his value. Unless and until that happens, he’s best suited for NL-only leagues deeper than 10 teams, or the deepest of mixed leagues; in either league, he might help your ERA, but not much else.

Ronny Cedeno | Pittsburgh | SS
YTD: .167/.213/.290
True Talent: .253/.302/.378
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 3 Runs, 3 RBI, .253 BA, 0.4 SB
Looking at Pittsburgh’s various acquisitions, you’d think Cedeno would be penciled in at starting shortstop, but Pittsburgh fans—and fantasy owners—hope that’s not the case. Not only is it a mistake to start a relative veteran on a team in the middle of a youth movement, Cedeno’s put up an unimpressive .238/.276/.339 line in his five MLB seasons. He’s decent enough with the glove, but has no business wielding a bat for either the Pirates or your fantasy team. There’s no reason to expect him to improve suddenly in Pittsburgh’s lineup, one of the few offenses in MLB that might be weaker than Seattle’s. The slight rebound that would bring him up to True Talent levels is still only good enough to make him a worthy shortstop in 18-team NL-only leagues; he’s not the pickup you want in the Pittsburgh infield.

Delwyn Young | Pittsburgh | 2B/OF
YTD: .316/.381/.427
True Talent: .276/.337/.435
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .277 BA, 0.1 SB
The Pirates’ roster dump opened up opportunities for both middle infielders and outfielders, and Delwyn Young would fit either spot. He could get a long look at second base, depending on how soon Pittsburgh gives up on Cedeno and shifts Vazquez over to short. With six games at second under his belt already, Young qualifies at that spot in some leagues, which is what counts for fantasy owners, whether he ends up playing there full-time or not. What’s key is his overall playing time, and he should be getting a good chunk of time somewhere on the field, though his power potential makes him best for in one of your MI slots. He’s performing very close to True Talent levels, a good sign that he should retain his value as a MI in 10-team NL leagues or 14-team mixed leagues.

Ramon Vazquez | Pittsburgh | SS
YTD: .237/.346/.275
True Talent: .254/.337/.371
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 1 Runs, 1 RBI, .256 BA, 0.0 SB
Ignore the OPS that Vazquez put up in Texas last year, which was almost entirely due to his red-hot first half. Instead, see him for what he is: a guy who’s going to produce adequate numbers at short, while qualifying at 2B and possibly 3B, too. The Pirates are going to play him in one of those spots most of the time; that Next Week Forecast was created before the trade removed the competition in front of him. He’s got value mostly as an NL-only SS, where he’s a good play in 12-team or deeper leagues. Much deeper mixed-league teams can take him if they must—his OPS is only 22nd best among all MLB shortstops.

Mike Adams | San Diego | RP
YTD: 10.0 K/9, 6.7 K/BB, 1.00 ERA
True Talent: 8.5 K/9, 2.7 K/BB, 3.25 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.0 Saves, 3.15 ERA
The big deal that everyone’s waiting for is a swap for Heath Bell, which would open the Padres’ closing job up, probably for Adams. Those eye-popping ratios Adams has put up so far have been over just 18 innings, so they’re clearly going to drop. But he’s still going to maintain some nice secondary stats, which is why he’d slide nicely into that endgame role. It’s a gamble as to whether Bell gets traded, but Adams is still going to help your ratios either way. Since he’s coming back from labrum surgery, the Padres have worked him carefully, gradually increasing his workload with no ill effects. If anything, he’s been getting better, with 12 strikeouts in his last 6.1 innings. A trade makes him an instant pickup in all leagues, but any league that counts holds should also consider him for their roster. Those strong secondary ratios and an ERA projected to be in the top 10 among NL relievers means even a speculative pickup won’t burn you.

True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.

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Comments

  1. J Coop said...

    Lugo a good glove up the middle?? Not offering much offense?  The exact opposite buddy….TERRIBLE glove, a freakin error machine.  BUT I expect decent run/steal totals as
    TLR will use him at the top of the order against most Lefty SP.

  2. Rob McQuown said...

    Lugo is strange.  He’d settled in as a slightly below-average defender at shortstop, who could hit pretty well for the position.  I wrote this on Waiver Wire after he returned in May from his injury:

    Julio Lugo | Boston | SS
    YTD: .270/.341/.405
    True Talent: .262/.329/.366
    Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, .258, 0.5 SB
    Not much fanfare surrounded Julio Lugo’s return at the end of April, but he’s a valuable fantasy player.  The 39 SB/.300 BA days are long past, but as the knee gets closer to 100%, expect him to resume the 25-30 SB pace he’s shown in Boston.  This lineup will get him more runs and RBI than most #9 hitters.  He should fend off Green, and if Lugo’s hitting, Lowrie could end up in a utility role upon his August return.

    Clearly, I overshot on that one, but also his defense has really gone down the tubes in 2009.  Using the BIS +/- system, here are his runs “saved” (negative is bad) and innings played at SS recently:
    2004: 1238 inn., +4 runs
    2005: 1339 inn, -2 runs
    2006: 648 inn, -8 runs
    2007: 1228 inn, +1 runs
    2008: 671 inn, -2 runs
    2009: 276 inn, -14 runs!

    Who knows if that’s an outlier which will regress to his norm with more PT, or if it’s a “new level”, based perhaps on his physical condition. But with Nick Green showing far better than expected fielding stats, and continuing to hit, the choice in Boston was clear (as to who would share time with Lowrie).  From STL’s perspective, anything’s better than having an outfielder playing 2b.  They played out that scenario, giving Schumaker every chance.

    As far as TLR stealing, I get the idea that he’s become one of the absolute worst at garnering SB’s in recent years, and – ironically – I’d reduce the SB expectations going from Boston to St. Louis.  I think 0.8 SB/wk is optimistic for him.  So, I agree with Mike’s summary here – I wouldn’t mess with him except in deeper NL leagues.  Maybe the offense picks up in the NL (it fell apart the last time he made an AL-to-NL transition, from TB to LA), and certainly that’s a nice lineup for which to lead off, but his overall game doesn’t seem to be at “starter” level anymore.

  3. Michael Street said...

    J Coop—

    I didn’t say “good” glove—I said “solid,” by which I mean unexceptional but steady. He’s not great at SS, but he’s a step up from Skip Schumacher defensively at 2B, which seems to be where Tony’s mostly playing him for the moment.

    But you’re right; he makes more than his share of errors. Sorry for suggesting otherwise.

    As for his offensive prowess, he’s hit a combined .247/.314/.343 the past two seasons, which is well below average, even at SS. He’s expected to do a little better than that this year, but a .700 OPS is pretty weak, particularly at 2B.

    If you can absorb that kind of hit to your ratios to pick up the 10 steals or so he might get down the stretch, as well as decent count of runs, then grab him.

    I still stand by my recommendation that he’s only good for NL-only leagues with 14+ teams, however.

    Thanks for the comment!

  4. Michael Street said...

    MMS—

    I agree with Rob about Richard; down the line, he may be worth a pickup in your league, but he’s not top-level keeper material. He looked good enough against the Brewers, but they’ve been staggering lately. Give him a few starts to get scouted out more fully and see how he holds up.

    I covered Schmidt in last week’s column http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/fantasy/article/waiver-wire-nl-0724/

    Even his last 0 ER, 1H start has done little to change that mediocre assessment, as he walked 5 and struck out 3. The start before that, he only lasted 3 IP against the Marlins, giving up 5R (4ER) while striking out 1 and walking 1.

    Schmidt’s not fooling major-league hitters right now, and Torre’s not all that confident in him. The fact that he used him as a pinch-hitter last night (the Dodgers bench is short) shows that he’s not someone Torre is working really hard to protect. I’d continue to watch him for signs of a breakout, but I don’t see them right now.

  5. MadMaxScherzer said...

    Is Schmidt worth a pick up looking ahead to the Dodger’s schedule in Sept. come Fantasy playoff time?`

    Also, how much has Clayton Richardson’s value as a started changed following the trade?

  6. Rob McQuown said...

    re: Richard -

    I can only state the obvious here. Richard is 12’ tall, can leap tall buildings and throws 102 MPH on a bad day.  What’s not to like?  Oh, okay, I’ve been listening to too many Chicago sports radio callers, sorry.

    Richard throws 91, and is a GB pitcher.  Personally, I’ve long expected him to be one of those guys who reaches his true “prime” at age 29 or 30, once his command is honed to a razor-fine level.  It could happen sooner, but SD isn’t an environment which should help him as much as others – their infield defense is spotty at best, and he’s not a Chris Young homer-prone type to begin with.  The fact that he’ll get very little run support limits his Win possibilities, and the Giants should no longer be pushovers for LHP (with Freddy and Garko), so that advantage is gone.

    In short, any Padres starter is worth consideration.  Not sure that Richard is especially high on the list among them, though.

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