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Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: James Loney, Ubaldo Jimenez, more

By Nicholas Minnix
Edited by Tim Heaney

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

1B James Loney, Tampa Bay Rays

Cleveland Indians SP Scott Kazmir
Moving through Kazmir

This past weekend, Loney homered twice to push his total to ... three. The left-handed hitter has driven in 20 in 120 plate appearances, though, thanks to a .376 BA and .560 slugging percentage. In fact, he's locked up playing time to gain qualification for the batting title.

The Los Angeles Dodgers theorized, experimented and pushed in order to attempt to make Loney more of a power hitter. In fact, they turned him into less of an asset. The Rays are letting Loney be who he is. Oh, and lookie there! He's posting by far his best ISO (.183) in six years and driving in runs. Crazy. It's miraculous what Tampa Bay does, smart management and all.

Loney is unlikely to be an asset all year in shallow mixed leagues, but he'll occupy a spot in 15-team mixers and AL-only leagues for the rest of 2013.

SP Scott Kazmir, Cleveland Indians

When a strained muscle in his rib cage delayed this southpaw's comeback attempt, which then began with a shellacking at the hands of the Houston Astros, this feel-good story seemed like it might already be finished. In three starts since, he's been electric (2-1, 2.65 ERA, 15 hits, five runs, three walks and 21 strikeouts in 17 innings).

Seriously, is this for real? Last year, Kazmir didn't even latch on with an affiliated club. It seemed as if he'd never get past nagging injuries and a serious loss of pitch speed. Time away and simplified mechanics seem to have resolved all that. His heater is back in the mid-90s with regularity, even late.

Kazmir may be a better pitcher for the struggles. Despite some improved control, he still doesn't have the foundation to get deep into games often, but the ratio and K upside is worth space just about anywhere.

OF Vernon Wells, New York Yankees

The story about Wells' resurgence spread quickly in April, but, clearly, many fantasy owners didn't expect the good times to last. The right-handed hitter keeps lettin' 'em roll, though, and he feels just like one of the Bronx Bombers: On his team's current road trip, he's nine for his last 21, with three getty-goners and a stolen base.

Wells has, in fact, impressed Joe Girardi enough that the skipper professes that he plans to play the outfielder as often as he can when Curtis Granderson returns. The Grandy Man is back this week. Let's see what happens. Perhaps folks were just geeked to use the hot bat in Monday's twin bill.

SP Jorge De La Rosa, Colorado Rockies

This could be a smart move, roto owners. DLR has accumulated a 4-3 record, a 2.98 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP in eight starts (45 1/3 stanzas) -- in spite of the fact that two starts (his first and sixth) went horribly awry. In his latest effort -- seven shutout frames against the St. Louis Cardinals -- he took a no-no into the seventh.

Keep expectations realistic, however. De La Rosa is nearly two years removed from Tommy John surgery (awesome), but he hasn't recovered his pitch speed and is instead adapting. He's compensated with improved control, but for him, the rate still isn't great. Cautious optimism (or hopeful pessimism?) is the Rx for such a hurler, who makes half of his starts at Coors Field.

Best Available
Owned in fewer than 50% of league polled

SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland Indians

Cleveland Indians SP Ubaldo Jimenez
Another worthy member of the Tribe

What's the scenario? Folks are jumping on one hot Tribe hurler and not so much the other? When DM first pushed Jimenez, in the season's opening week, it appeared to be a big mistake. Opponents absolutely thrashed him in his three starts following an impressive season debut.

Since, in three outings (18 2/3 innings), the right-hander has flummoxed (10 hits, three runs, six walks and 20 punch-outs) three pretty good teams. Cleveland may finally be reaping the rewards of their persistent attempts to abridge Jimenez's mechanics, in part so that they'd be easier to repeat. In the AP recap of his latest pretty effort, versus the Detroit Tigers, he acknowledged that he's been finding that consistency.

There's still hope here, folks. Jimenez has been hitting 95 on occasion. He's tough to hit again, and he's keeping the ball out of the air. He may not regain his 2010 form, but the talent is still in there.

OF David Murphy, Texas Rangers

Murphy is on the free-agent list in the vast majority of mixed leagues these days because of his atrocious start to 2013 (.200/.252/.374 in 123 plate appearances). What happened? This dude was supposed to get a little more PT, a chance to play against southpaws regularly, now that Josh Hamilton had fled to the West Coast. And Murphy is a good enough hitter that it would matter!

To make matters worse, on Saturday night, he suffered a back injury while making a catch in the outfield. A week prior to that, he missed a game because of an illness. Things aren't going Murphy's way. Isn't that kind of Murphy's Law? Evan Grant scribed that the beleaguered left-handed batter has often slumped in April, but he usually busts out of it.

Murphy's approach against right-handed pitchers this season hasn't been very good, but his results against lefties have been just fine. He's a good hitter who's gone through a rough stretch -- hardly unusual. In 12-team mixed leagues and deeper, bring him aboard before he heats up and everyone else notices. He's seven for his last 20 with two home runs, and that stretch includes two pinch-hit appearances. This is a quality-depth bat.



 


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