Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Jed Lowrie, more

by Nicholas Minnix on April 18, 2011 @ 13:26:35 PDT

 


Your fantasy baseball cheat sheets are no longer of use. KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market series gives you tips on fantasy baseball players available as free agents, on waivers or for your FAAB dollars in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league. It's time to replace your fantasy baseball busts.

Key

Acquire Add player (in most circumstances)
Consider Add for speculation or because of need
Watch Track player, consider if trend continues
Pass Do not add player (in most circumstances)

 

Catchers

Hank Conger, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The rookie started four of the Halos' six games, including three straight, this past week, much to the chagrin of Jeff Mathis (and Mathis' AL-only owners). Mike Scioscia hasn't done so, but at least one writer who covers the team has already gone so far as to call Conger the No. 1 catcher. The skipper likes a lot of what he sees from the kid, either way.

Conger, 23, is 6-for-21 (.286 BA) with two homers and six RBIs to begin the season. There was no question that he had the most offensive promise of the team's three at the position, but no one expected him to garner so much PT so quickly.

Boston Red Sox IF Jed Lowrie
Lowrie on fire

Keep in mind that this could be the manager's mere desire to seize the opportunity while Conger is driving the ball hard. Scioscia, who has always valued Mathis' defense greatly, said that the club needed the vet backstop to be part of the solution behind the plate. He didn't, however, say how big a part that needed to be. The club's bigger bats aren't performing, and Conger has helped to make up for that. He has 10-homer power with rock-solid BA peripherals and is worth a risk where you can take it.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Consider

AL-only: Acquire

Corner infielders

Russell Branyan, Arizona Diamondbacks

Kirk Gibson hasn't stuck by his proclamation that Juan Miranda, 27, would receive a little more playing time than Branyan, 35, who has started three of the club's last five games. The oft-injured veteran is 8-for-24 with a home run to begin 2011's campaign, while the younger lefty swinger is just 5-for-23 with one ding dong.

Back problems have severely affected Branyan's availability in the past couple of years, making him unreliable for any foreseeable stretch. In addition, Xavier Nady has started four games at first, including the club's last two, based on matchups.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

NL-only: Acquire

Middle infielders

Jed Lowrie, Boston Red Sox

Terry Francona said over the weekend that Lowrie was simply hitting too well for him not to be in the lineup right now. After a big Patriot's Day, the switch-hitting shortstop is 16-for-31 (.516) with two homers, nine RBIs and eight runs scored. He has been one of the few bright spots on offense, while starting six contests, five of them at the 6.

If Boston's offense had started this campaign on a much better note, Lowrie probably wouldn't be getting this opportunity. His glove is a good bit less reliable than Marco Scutaro's, at a premium defensive position. Tito's statement also indicates that he's far from committed to this arrangement. It may be up to Lowrie: If he continues to produce at a high level, maybe he sticks. This is a difficult pace to maintain, but he clearly has more upside than Scutaro and is worth a spot if it shakes out in his favor.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Consider

AL-only: Acquire

Pitchers

Drew Storen, Washington Nationals

Storen needed only 23 pitches to complete two innings of one of the club's games against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday. He struck out one and earned a save for his troubles, and he stared down the meat of the order in the eighth stanza. The right-hander has been pretty effective (one earned run in 10 1/3 frames) so far, although he was behind Sean Burnett for save chances.

One hand, Burnett hadn't pitched since he blew a save opp on Friday. On the other, Storen entered the eighth with a three-run lead, and the Nats tacked on another one in the bottom of the inning, negating a save situation for anyone who'd relieve Storen to begin the ninth. Jim Riggleman may have been content either way. The point: Many folks have dropped Storen hastily, and as the clear long-term solution, he should be owned.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Fernando Rodney, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Mike Scioscia has already granted his deposed closer one save opportunity, by virtue of availability of the young Jordan Walden. The skipper is no doubt again comfortable with his veteran, who has been quite effective in his last 6 1/3 innings (two hits, zero runs, two walks, four K's), apparently thanks to his reversion to more tried mechanics.

Originally, Scioscia said that he would be open to restoring Rodney as the primary ninth-inning option when the righty demonstrated that he had worked out some issues. The manager has basically acknowledged that he has seen such. Walden has performed too well to foresee an immediate change, but just acknowledge that it's possible, especially if Walden stumbles.

Shallow mixed: Consider

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Tyson Ross, Oakland Athletics

The A's have placed Dallas Braden (shoulder stiffness) on the 15-day disabled list. The club hopes that the issue isn't serious, but the southpaw has had his share of injuries before - thankfully none to his shoulder recently. They haven't yet performed tests. Either Ross or Bobby Cramer will fill in.

Geren seems to be leaning toward Ross, who definitely has more upside. It's possible that the acquisition of David Purcey somehow affects this decision, but the team has a wealth of southpaws in the bullpen already.

When Ross cut his teeth with Oakland, it was mostly in the bullpen (5.12 ERA, 25 K's, 19 walks in 31 2/3 frames). In a couple of emergency starts, the righty went a combined 7 2/3 innings and yielded six runs. Not encouraging, but he has been effective to begin this season, in the 'pen. The soon-to-be 24-year-old has good stuff and could be very good as a starter if he continues to develop a third pitch, right now a changeup, and cut down on walks.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Consider

Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants

It's not clear how long the Giants will be without Barry Zito (mid-foot sprain, at least), but it's expected to be more than the minimum stay on the DL, for sure.

Vogelsong, 33, will probably fill in, at least initially. You may recall his name, although not fondly (lifetime ERA of 6.39, last pitched in the majors in 2006, last started there in 2004). He pitched in Japan for three seasons, making a large improvement in his rate of walks per nine, for the most part.

The free passes ghost seems to be haunting Vogelsong again since his return stateside, but he does have a lot of strikeout potential. He also impressed the Giants, so they say, in spring training. This is a real lotto ticket, but who knows, right?

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

NL-only: Consider

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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