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While it is very difficult for fantasy managers to pick up a franchise player off the waiver wire, they are rookies who can have a major impact that remain availble for the picking. Here’s a look at four talented players in the farm system who could be worth a waiver wire pick:
A former sixth round pick who has been passed around from the Red Sox to the Padres to the Cubs, it’s looking like Anthony Rizzo could be up for a promotion very shortly. In a 49 game stint with the Padres last season, Rizzo flopped, hitting just .141 with one home run. Now through 44 games, Rizzo is pounding the ball in Iowa with 16 home runs and a .355 average. Considered a long-term investment, the 22-year-old Rizzo could push Bryan LaHair to the outfield within the next month. Now that he has left San Diego and has a favorable ballpark, Rizzo is a fine speculation pick off the waiver wire.
Chances are you never heard of Danny Rosenbaum. A former 22nd round pick, the southpaw may be the most unknown dominating ace at any level of baseball. At one point he allowed just one earned run to score over a 45-inning stretch this season at Double-A. The 24-year-old hurler is a perfect 6-0 through nine starts this season. He is a control pitcher that has never had an ERA higher than 2.60 in his professional career. Rosenbaum’s never been known for his stuff, and the Nats rotation seems pretty full, but these numbers are too good to dismiss.
There was consideration for Julio Teheran to make the Braves rotation coming into the season, but instead he was beat out by fellow top prospect Randall Delgado. At Triple-A he has been something of an enigma. His control is a tad off and he is not racking up the K’s at the rate you would expect. Perhaps it has something to do with frustration still pitching in the minors, but a call to the Majors could happen at any moment especially with Mike Minor struggling with the Braves.
The Trevor Bauer watch continues in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks top prospect was recently promoted to Triple-A after dominating Double-A with 7 wins in 8 starts. In his first two starts since the promotion, Bauer has fanned more than a batter per inning while allowing just two runs in 13 innings. The Diamondbacks have a few top prospects in the farm system and have to be pleased with the play of Wade Miley this season. For now Patrick Corbin is holding down the fifth spot in the rotation with Daniel Hudson injured, but Bauer is likely on call.
Showing Their Age:
Jamie Moyer, SP, Rockies
The spring training feel good story is not feeling very good right now for the Rockies. Jamie Moyer is struggling at many things right now, as he has surrendered five or more runs in four of his last five starts. The problems center on the fact that Moyer is simply too hittable, as the opposition is hitting .328 against him, the worst mark for any starter in the National League. He is also walking batters twice as often as his 2010 season. Furthermore, the fact that he has only pitched seven innings once in nine starts this season puts a toll on the Rockies bullpen. With the team expected to compete this season, I have a hard time believing that there’s much patience in the front office.
Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies
A recent three-game hit streak lifted Todd Helton’s average to .231, but it’s still not enough to warrant an everyday gig for the Rockies legend. Amongst the RBI leaders early in the season, Helton had a dry spell before bouncing back against the Reds this past weekend. The plate discipline remains, but he clogs the bases without speed, and doesn’t have much power either. Helton’s career performance may one day lead to his induction in the Hall of Fame, but for now, it’s retirement has to be creeping on his mind.
Johnny Damon, OF, Indians
The good news was that Johnny Damon finally went yard with his first home run of the season for the Indians. The bad news is that he cannot escape reality and his batting average remains way too low at .158. That’s now 76 at bats and Damon has just three extra base hits. The 38-year-old has also shown some decent plate discipline, but he has yet to steal a base this season. Truth is that the Indians can contend without Damon on the roster. His leash is getting shorter by the day as he finds himself on the wrong side of the Mendoza line.
Rob Shaw and Julie Alexandria discuss five veterans aging gracefully:
Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees
With a .342 average and five home runs, Derek Jeter has far exceeded expectations this season, as he is now surpassed 3,150 hits for his career. Now it may be time to sell high on the Yankees legend. Despite the early power showing, Jeter has just one extra base hit since May 6. He is starting to look like the singles machine that boasted just a .370 slugging percentage in 2010. Furthermore, the stolen bases are way down with just three swipes this season. Jeter has been great so far, but there are some serious questions about the sustainability of this hot start from the 37-year-old shortstop.
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox
Though he seems to be getting bitter with age, claiming he doesn’t get respect in Boston, David Ortiz is as dangerous as ever with the stick in his hand. Ortiz is on pace for 40 home runs and 120 RBI while batting .305. Ever since everyone predicted his decline in 2009, Ortiz has bounced back and is once again one of the best designated hitters in baseball.
Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves
Sadly this is the swan song for Chipper Jones, who will one day find himself inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. A bruised left calf had forced Jones out of the lineup for the time being, but when he is healthy this season, he has blasted five home runs with 24 RBI and a .307 average. Jones is unlikely to have much more than 400 at bats this season, but if you are willing to change your roster on a daily basis, you can end up with an oldie, but goodie.
Raul Ibanez, OF, Yankees
The Phillies thought Raul Ibanez was done after a less than stellar 2011 season. The Yankees took an inexpensive gamble on the New York City native and so far the 39-year-old designated hitter has blasted nine home runs with 27 RBI. Yankees Stadium seems perfect for the left-hander, as he already has seven home runs at home. Additionally, the solid Yankees lineup has led to many run-producing opportunities and so far Ibanez has capitalized.
Derek Lowe, SP, Indians
It’s very rare for a pitcher to have success with more walks than strikeouts, but lo and behold, Derek Lowe is having a bounce back season with the Indians. Lowe had allowed just seven runs over his last six starts before getting pummeled this weekend. Even still, the ERA is a solid 3.25. Again, the strikeouts are a concern, and it makes you wonder how long this could last.
It usually turns out that the best arm in the bullpen ends up with the closer’s gig. It’s Darwinism and most recently played out in Cincinnati where Aroldis Chapman picked up what will likely be the first of many saves with a strong finish against the Yankees on Sunday. In Anaheim, we have seen Jordan Waldan lose the job after his early season struggles and southpaw Scott Downs then picked it up. I have no complaints with Downs, he was excellent last season with a 1.34 ERA and he has yet to surrender a single run this year in 12 innings. But in Firieri the Angels have a flame-thrower that has fanned 14 batters in 6.2 innings since he was acquired from the Padres. He’s worth picking up since he’ll give you some immediate value and that could soar down the line assuming he gets his hands on the ninth inning.
In his first taste of Big League action, Matt Adams did exactly what he’s done in the minors: rake. The 23-year-old top prospect in the Cardinals system may start the remainder of the season at first base with Lance Berkman possibly lost for the season due to a knee injury. The former 23rd round pick had never hit less than .300 in any of his seasons in the farm system. After blasting 32 home runs with a .300 last season at Double-A, he hammered nine with a .340 average before earning a promotion this season. This is a player worth using your waiver wire priority on, and feel free to up the ante if in an auction waiver wire.
If in need of a power bat, take a look at Dayan Viciedo. The White Sox top prospect got off to a tough start, but has really turned things around lately. On May 13, Viciedo’s batting average dipped below the Mendoza line down to .196. Since then he has enjoyed a seven game hit streak with four home runs and 10 RBI. He will kill you in leagues that consider on base percentage, as he has drawn just three walks all season. On the other hand, his strikeouts are in decline and the White sox even pushed him up to cleanup on Sunday with Paul Konerko out of the lineup. The White Sox know that they will need Viciedo to come up big this season if the team is going to compete, so look for the franchise to do everything to jumpstart their rising slugger.
This 22-year-old outfielder was a second round pick in 2008 and has taken some time to develop. Last season he had 36 steals, but very little power and horrible plate discipline while playing at Double-A. This year Avery started at Triple-A and played at an all-time high level. He drew a ton of walks, hit for power, and was a perfect 8 for 8 on the base paths. Avery has since been called up to the Big Leagues where he got his first Major League against the Yankees. A potential 5-tool talent with youth on his side, Avery has a shot at making an impact in the Big Leagues. He’ll hold down left-field until Nolan Reimold returns and at that point the Orioles will have to make a tough decision. Avery batted leadoff on Sunday for the Orioles and responded with two hits, a run scored, and his first Major League stolen base. He is now batting .312.
If in Texas everything is big, Rangers veteran hurler Scott Feldman fits right in at 6’7”. Despite the imposing figure, Feldman is actually something of a soft-tosser who gets by with finesse. In 2009, Feldman did more than just get by. He was sensational in the franchise’s transition into one of the league’s better pitching rotations. He finished with a 17-8 record and a 4.08 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.
Since then, the journey has been a bit rockier for Feldman despite the team’s good fortune, reaching back-to-back World Series. He struggled in 2010 and then last season was only healthy enough to contribute 32 innings, though he was solid with a 3.94 ERA and stellar 1.09 WHIP.
Now 29 years old, Feldman has regained his health and has assumed a role as a spot-starter for the Rangers. He performed admirably on Monday, pitching 4.2 innings while surrendering no earned runs. His ERA is down to 3.00 through 15 innings of work.
Never much of a strikeout artist, Feldman does offer some solid control and keeps the ball in the park, which isn’t easy pitching in Arlington. If he can somehow stick in the rotation, Feldman has a shot at enjoying fantasy value with plenty of wins and a respectable ERA and WHIP. However, for now he is a fantasy afterthought with greater value in reality.
For fantasy baseball insight and access to Front Office 2012, visit BloombergSports.com
In 2003, the Padres owned the fourth pick of the MLB Draft. The franchise had its choice of a few top prospects including John Danks, Nick Markakis, and Chad Billingsley. Instead, San Diego opted for Tim Stauffer, a right-hander out of Richmond.
Stauffer struggled early in his professional career, however, in 2009 he broke out with a 1.85 ERA in 82.2 innings of work as a spot-starter and long-reliever. As a result of the fine performance, Stauffer enjoyed a promotion the following year to a full-time starter. Stauffer picked up 9 wins with a 3.73 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. Of course PETCO Field played its role, as he was 6-5 at home with a 2.57 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.
The 29-year-old right-hander showed some wear and tear in August, as his strikeouts declined and his home runs soared. After missing the first month and a half of the 2012 season due to a strained elbow, Stauffer made his season debut on Monday. Against the Nationals, the Padres hurler fanned five batters in five innings of work. He was a tad wild and bit too hittable as he came away with a no-decision.
Stauffer returns to PETCO this weekend for an Interleague match-up with the Angels. Fantasy managers should consider the veteran as a solid platoon option worth starting every time he takes the hill in San Diego even though a lack of run support will limit his ability to pick up wins.
For more fantasy baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.
Carlos Zambrano is making himself at home in Miami. He finally picked up his first win of the season last week with a three-hitter, which pushed his ERA down to 1.98. The ERA only declined further, to 1.88, after seven solid innings against the Mets on Sunday. Zambrano fanned seven batters while walking three in yet another no-decision.
With his control in check, Zambrano is one of the better hurlers in baseball right now. Aside from one outing in which he issued six walks, Zambrano has walked three batters or fewer in every start this season.
When playing for the Cubs, part of the job description was to handle Wrigley Field in every home start. Sometimes the wind would push the ball out of the stadium, adding yet another component to his performance. This season, Zambrano will call home to a pitcher-friendly Marlins Park. Yet, so far most of Zambrano’s starts have come on the road, where he has offered a 1.55 ERA.
Though his volatile personality will always carry some risk, this is also the same pitcher that has won 16 or more games on three different occasions. Having shed a great deal of weight during the off-season and with his control and temper in check, Zambrano is a pitcher you can invest in.
After six fruitless at bats, Jordany Valdespin launched his first hit of his Big League career and it was one to remember, a three-run homer against Jonathan Papelbon to win the game for the Mets against the rival Phillies.
A 24-year-old five-tool talent, Valdespin could end up as a super sub, similar to Orioles third baseman Wilson Betemit, but with a bit more upside. Last season, Valdespin played at the high levels of the Minor Leagues and responded with 17 home runs and 37 stolen bases. Though he hit .294, Valdespin only drew 25 walks compared to 93 strikeouts, which raises fears about his plate discipline in the Major Leagues.
So far this season for the Mets, Valdespin has played second base, shortstop, and the outfield. He definitely gives the Mets a solid glove at second base, which he displayed on Sunday against the Marlins, but he is not about to displace the steady hitting Daniel Murphy.
It looked as though Valdespin would get a crack at shortstop with Ruben Tejada on the DL, but the Mets recently took veteran utility man Ronnie Cedeno off the disabled list. While Valdespin offers a great deal of promise, it is premature to call on him for any fantasy value.
A former first round pick in 2005, Brandon Snyder is a 25-year-old that only had 14 at bats in the Big Leagues entering last Monday. During his time in the farm system, Snyder proved to have little plate discipline, but he does have some power.
Snyder became a fantasy trend last week as he blasted a home run with six RBI in a big win against the Baltimore Orioles. Truth is, even last week it was clear that the big performance was no more than a career day than anything else. Snyder was playing third base, a position that is handled by Gold Glove winner Adrian Beltre. It’s not as if the designated hitter spot is open for Snyder either as Mike Napoli, Michael Young, and Mitch Moreland take turns in the Rangers lineup.
Since the big performance, Snyder has only had two appearances. He went 0-3 with a strikeout against the Orioles a few days later. He then managed a single in four at bats on Saturday against the Angels. With just 26 at bats this season, Snyder is little more than an insurance policy for the Rangers.
For more fantasy baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.
A 24-year-old southpaw, Felix Doubront is finally getting his shot as a starter in the Big Leagues. Though he has been a strikeout artist so far this season, he has also been a bit too hittable. Fellow southpaws were hitting an all too comfortable .295 against him coming into the week. He had also has struggled at Fenway to the tune of a 6.00 ERA.
Based on his minor league statistics, one can expect Doubront’s control to improve. He was a popular fantasy option this week as he visited the Royals on Monday, then hosted the Indians on Saturday.
In the Kansas City start, Doubront was far from his best. He surrendered seven hits and five runs, but since only three were earned, it qualifies as a quality start. Doubront was much better five days later when he held the Royals to just three hits in six innings, surrendering one earned run. He picked up a second straight win, improving his record to 3-1, while the ERA fell to 4.46.
Doubront’s home ERA is now comparable to his road splits, and left-handed batters are now hitting just .278 against him. The Red Sox hurler will find an increase in strength of schedule, as he next takes on the Rays before a start against Baltimore. It will be more important for Doubront to keep the walks down against two of the best teams in the American League this season.