Rob Shaw and Michelle Steele report on the waiver wire, including Yankee killer Chris Heisey, joined for the first time ever by a live studio audience!
Brandon Beachy, SP, Braves
Beachy has just two wins on the season, but with a 3.22 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, fantasy managers are picking up a reliable hurler. Best of all, Beachy, who was undrafted of Indiana Wesleyan, is a strikeout artist. In fact, fresh from more than a month on the disabled list, Beachy fanned 11 batters in just 6 innings on Thursday night. He has 57 K’s on the season in just 50.1 innings of work.
Carlos Pena, 1B, Cubs
He is an all or nothing type slugger, but the good news is that lately he has been more all than nothing. He has gone three straight games with a homer, and make that 5 dingers over the last seven games. Sure, only once did he get an additional hit in those games, but the RBI are piling up as well as the runs scored. This is a guy who can swat 40 in a season, so feel free to pick up the hot bat.
Travis Hafner, 1B, Indians
One of the biggest surprises this season has been the play of the Indians, and if you’re wondering where they’re getting their offense from, well the answer is an oldie, but goodie. Travis Hafner has turned back the clock to hit .338 this season. This is a former .300-plus hitter, so the fact that he is raking is not unprecedented. He is 34-years old, so invest accordingly.
Chris Heisey, OF, Reds
Yankees fans are wondering who the heck is Chris Heisey. Turns out this newfound Yankee killer, Red Sox fans will love this, went to a college called Messiah! Not sure if he is the chosen one, but in a small sampling, Heisey now has 16 home runs in just 329 at bats. This year his slugging is .492, to put that in perspective, his teammate Joey Votto is not that far above him at .519. In 2009, at the high levels of Minor League ball, Heisey blasted 22 home runs with 21 steals and a .314 average. Looks like fantasy managers should put this outfielder on their radar, although playing time could be an issue unless Jonny Gomes finds the bench with his .222 average.
Jonathan Broxton, RP, Dodgers
If you cut Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton following his most recent blowup in early May before landing on the DL, it may be a good idea to pick him right up. We have no idea if his struggles are in the past, but we do know that his manager intends on returning him to the closer’s role once he is healthy. Broxton is on the road to recovery, most recently pitching at Triple-A in a rehab appearance.
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Kurt Suzuki, C, A’s: 2 runs, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .278 AVG
Just 27 years old, Suzuki is one of the few young catchers who will get 500 at bats thanks to durability and high placement in the A’s batting lineup. He regressed a bit last season, perhaps because of injuries, but this season, he’s been somewhere in between. He has just two homers and 7 RBI, but his average is a decent .256 plus a stolen base. He’s been better than Jorge Posada, but his upside is limited.
Luke Scott, OF, Orioles: 5 runs, 3 HR, 6 RBI, .389 AVG
One of the most underrated power bats in the Majors, Luke Scott blasted 27 home runs last season and it would not surprise me if he reaches 30 this season. He doesn’t get any steals and his career average is average at best at .268, but he is one of the few players who has increased his power output every single season in the Major Leagues. This is now his 7th season in the Big Leagues.
Jack Hannahan, 3B, Indians: 4 runs, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB
This 31-year old journeyman came out of nowhere to blast four home runs through 22 games with 14 runs and 14 RBI. Warning, he is a career .228 hitter with limited speed. Enjoy it while it lasts, but I don’t see it lasting all season.
Nick Swisher, OF, Yankees: .174 AVG, 1 HR, 4 RBI
With a .218 average and just one home run, there is some disappointment with Swisher. Truth is that you should have seen this coming. His batting average per ball in play was out of whack last season, so you should expect him to bat around .250 this year, after all, his career average is .251. The power should bounce back, but this is not a hitter that offers much in fantasy baseball.
Carlos Pena, 1B, Cubs: 1/11, 1 run
The Cubs took a gamble and it does not seem to be working. Pena has yet to go deep and his average has fallen to .167, which is actually just 30 points lower than last season. He’ll get some homers though it may be a race against time… the Cubs will eventually have to push Pena on the bench if he can’t hit above the Mendoza line.
Jason Bay, OF, Mets: 3 Runs, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .200 AVG
After a nice return to the Mets that led to a six game winning streak, Bay has gone on to have just one hit in his last 17 at bats. He is striking out a ton and has just 3 RBI in 10 games. He should find himself a home on the fantasy waiver wire.
By Tommy Rancel //
Despite being the Tampa Bay Rays all-time home run leader, Carlos Pena was the second-most important Rays player to sign with a new team at the winter meetings. Carl Crawford got the big bucks from the Boston Red Sox, and Pena is looking to make a big comeback with the Chicago Cubs in 2011.
A crown jewel in the Andrew Friedman collection, Pena went from first-round bust to MVP candidate in the span of one season. In his first year (2007) with the (Devil) Rays, the first baseman smashed 46 home runs and drove in 121 runs – both single-season franchise records. Unsurprisingly, he was unable to top those numbers in any of the next three seasons, but still managed an impressive OPS of .884 in his time with the Rays.
Pena became the franchise all-time home run leader this past season. His 144 home runs in a Rays uniform also rank as the sixth highest total in baseball since 2007.
For all the good done – on and off the field – during his time with the Rays, Pena ended his career with the Rays on a down note. Just three years removed from his breakout campaign, Los hit just .195/.325/.409 in 2010.
Aside from the massive number of strikeouts which are typical for a three outcome hitter (home runs, walks, and strikeouts), groundball outs were also a problem for Pena this past season. His 44.9% groundball rate was his highest total in any full-season.
The last thing you want from primary home run hitter is nearly half the balls he puts in play staying on the ground. His slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) on grounders was an abysmal .137/.137/.151. The .137 BA represents the second-lowest average on groundballs (min. 100 PA) in the majors, owing to Pena’s lack of speed, and teams shifting on him to prevent right-side grounders from scooting through the infield.
Though he may be on the downside of his career, Pena’s power is still a threat. Aside from the terrible slash line, the strikeouts, and high number of grounders, Pena still managed to hit 28 home runs last year. Also consider, he is moving from a below-average hitter’s park for left-handed batters to one of the friendlier parks for lefties. According to statcorner.com, Tropicana Field had a home run park factor of 89 for LHB (neutral is 100). Wrigley Field, on the other hand, had a park factor of 119. NL Central pitching is likely to be easier to handle than that seen in the AL East too.
After whiffing (literally) on his chance of a big payday this off-season, Pena gets another chance with this one-year, $10 million deal with the Cubs. With contract motivation, a ton of natural power, a home run friendly environment, and even reuniting with hitting guru Rudy Jaramillo, Pena could be poised for another 30-plus home run campaign.
For fantasy owners who don’t want to pay premium prices for a first baseman, Pena could be a good sleeper. At a stacked position, and coming of a down year, he could get lost in the shuffle in some leagues. While Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, and Joey Votto go early, you can focus on a weaker position (say, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki) in the first few rounds and target Pena as a mid-to-late-round selection in mixed leagues.