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Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Heath Bell, Travis Wood, more

By Nicholas Minnix
Edited by Keith Hernandez

KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market gives you candid reviews and ratings of fantasy baseball players making MLB news in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball leagues. Are they trade bait? Are they worth your FAAB dollars in your fantasy baseball games?

Hottest Pickups
Most frequently added in leagues polled

RP Heath Bell, Arizona Diamondbacks

J.J. Putz (elbow problems) doesn't need surgery, but he'll probably be out for a while. Bell will get first crack at the closer's role in Putz's absence, with David Hernandez remaining in a setup role.

Chicago Cubs SP Travis Wood
Knock on Wood: may keep it up

Of course, you won't find many who believe that Bell can handle the job anymore. But "experience" isn't the backbone of an argument in favor of him, either. The right-hander has really cut down on free passes, something that pairs much better with his diminishing ability to limit contact.

Don't let his 20 K's in 14 1/3 innings fool you ... completely. Just don't let his 4.40 ERA do so either. Bell will be hit a bit, but he still has the stuff to be successful more often than not.

2B/OF Kelly Johnson, Tampa Bay Rays

Shocking development: the Rays have helped another down-in-the-dumps player, someone else's misfit, turn things around. KJ's 2013 contact rate (78.7 percent) is back on par with his lifetime rate following two straight years of rates in the neighborhood of 71 percent.

Will the .283/.362/.489 good times keep rollin'? Hard to say, considering that Johnson hasn't seen first-pitch strikes often, but patience has long been one of his virtues.

Dear major league franchises: Why do you waste all that money on free agents? Why in the hell don't you just pilfer Tampa Bay's front office, player development and coaching staffs?

RP Junichi Tazawa, Boston Red Sox

Andrew Bailey (sore biceps) is on the DL. Joel Hanrahan (forearm stiffness) is on the DL. Koji Uehara is no stranger to it, so the BoSox prefer to handle him carefully and to leave him in his customary setup role. Tazawa has pitched extremely well (1.82 ERA, 9.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 in 59 1/3 innings) since his call-up last season. The right-hander deserves the shot at more important innings.

Hanrahan's injury seems to be pretty serious. Don't expect him to re-enter the picture any time soon. Bailey's injury history also aids Tazawa's case for long-term value. He may test fantasy owners' patience, however, because Bailey may not need more than the minimum stay on the disabled list for his current ailment and was pitching extremely well in the ninth.

OF Michael Saunders, Seattle Mariners

It appears that the changes Saunders incorporated in the offseason prior to last year have taken a firm hold. This is a 26-year-old who was once perhaps the top prospect in his organization.

His statistical profile doesn't suggest that a batting title is coming any time soon, but hot dang if Saunders ain't a pretty solid 20-20 player -- the type to stick on deep mixed league rosters all year long.

Best Available
Owned in fewer than 50% of league polled

SP Travis Wood, Chicago Cubs

San Diego Padres 2B Jedd Gyorko
Gyorko settling in

Wood is still widely available in shallow formats despite his alluring stats to begin 2013: a 3-2 record, a 2.33 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in seven starts (46 1/3 innings). Certainly, his superb start warrants some skepticism, but the masses are usually quick to jump on a player who has performed as well as this left-hander has -- even if he toils for the freakin' Cubbies!

Wood, 26, has stared down some pretty good lineups and yet hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any start. The manager of the North Siders might be overreacting -- just a little -- but he's displaying supreme command of an arsenal that includes five offerings and has become more reliant on a slider and cutter.

This is exactly the type of overachiever to whom fantasy owners characteristically hitch their wagon and ride for weeks, even months at a time! But they have yet to do so en masse.

2B Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres

The organization's top position prospect entering the spring was all the rage when fantasy owners began to realize that he had a legit shot to win the second-base job for the Friars. Like his club, he didn't get off to the best of starts (17 games in, his average was .210), though, so the shine must've worn away, at least for some.

Since that low point, or 16 games later, Gyorko has raised his slash line to .264/.328/.413 on the strength of 19 hits, including three home runs, in 59 at-bats (.322). Come on, folks. This 24-year-old gets it. And he's a good bet to get 20 home runs from second base. Hop on.


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