Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Brandon Belt, more

by Nicholas Minnix on May 26, 2011 @ 12:59:00 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

Eli Whiteside, San Francisco Giants

The devastating news that Buster Posey has a broken leg and torn knee ligaments has opened up playing time for Whiteside in the short term, at least. This isn't exciting news for fantasy owners.

Whiteside, 31, has displayed a little power in his limited MLB time, but he's purely backup material at this level. He'll likely be a batting average drag. If you're in dire need of a quick fix, he's worth consideration, but expect the Giants to explore options outside the organization if Posey is gone for the rest of year, as some suspect.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

NL-only: Acquire

Corner infielders

Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants 1B Brandon Belt
Giants fasten Belt

Amid the gruesome Buster Posey development, the Giants also placed speedy fifth outfielder Darren Ford on the DL and are expected to recall uber-prospect Belt.

The University of Texas product was tearing through the Pacific Coast League after his demotion, with a .337/.410/.525 triple-slash line, four homers and three steals. He had cooled off, however, with only four hits, none for extra bases, and eight strikeouts in his last six games. He had been playing almost exclusively in the outfield.

Belt has a fine approach and good knowledge of his swing, which in that regard makes him similar to the Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer. San Fran's man seems likely to earn outfield eligibility, which makes him even more attractive. It's uncertain how long the Giants plan to stick with him this time, but after losing a significant piece of their lineup in Posey, they probably view Belt's presence as more of a necessity than a luxury. The rookie should play as long as he's up.

Shallow mixed: Consider

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Russell Branyan, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The Halos have signed this Arizona Diamondbacks castoff and could use him at either first base or DH in the short term. There are no secrets here: He hits for power (31 homers in 2009, 25 in 2010) and not for average (.251 in 2009, .237 in 2010). He ripped one tater and hit .210 in 62 at-bats for the Snakes.

The Angels' offense has struggled mightily. Vernon Wells (strained groin) is sidelined for roughly a few weeks, and Howard Kendrick (strained hamstring) is on the DL, although he's not expected to miss much time. Expect Branyan, who has a history of back issues, to get some shots, at least initially.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Middle infielders

Emmanuel Burriss, San Francisco Giants

San Fran placed Mike Fontenot (strained groin) on the DL. The Giants called up one of their better prospects, Brandon Crawford, likely so that he could split time with Burriss at shortstop.

Neither player is worth picking up for the long term; Miguel Tejada is manning the hot corner in the absence of Pablo Sandoval, who should be back within a few weeks. Crawford, 24, was hitting .296/.397/.500 in 64 plate appearances for the organization's Class A advanced affiliate. He had a late start because of an injury, but his age, level of advancement and rep for being more of a prospect with the glove don't make the lefty hitter alluring.

Burriss, 26, has seven hits in 23 at-bats, with a stolen base, in the majors this season. He was scorching (.361/.432/.470, 16 thefts) for Triple-A Fresno before his summons. The switch-hitter isn't a great bet to be a batting average asset, despite his hot start, but could be a nice short-term source of speed.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Pitchers

Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor and Octavio Dotel, Toronto Blue Jays

Manager John Farrell announced that save situations, at least in the short term, wouldn't exclusively be Frank Francisco's domain. The right-hander will still be the primary option, from the sounds of things, but the skipper noted these three relievers as possibilities, depending on matchups and availability. Only in deep leagues do you want to dip into this mess.

Dotel's experience and the fact that Farrell mentioned him first in that little diatribe make him an obvious choice, but his astronomical BB/9 (8.03) makes him uninviting. It's worth noting, however, that, although he was blown up for four runs on May 9, he hasn't been scored upon in the other six of his last appearances. His rate of walks has always been high but should come down notably, and he certainly has the strikeout stuff to do the job. He pitched two-thirds of an inning to save one this past Saturday.

Still, Dotel comes with the possibility of detriment to which most fantasy owners don't want to subject themselves. That makes Frasor (1.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 9.15 K/9, 3.20 BB/9) an attractive choice. He has pitched well as a setup man in his career and has saved double-digit games in two different seasons. He's where to look if you're avoiding headaches but may not be a good long-term play. Of course, some thought the same of Ryan Madson.

Rauch opened the season with the job and tallied five saves before handing the keys to Frank Frank after blowing one. The 6-foot-11 righty has fallen on hard times (earned runs allowed in each of his last three appearances) and has never displayed the stuff to close for a full season. Still, he's a trusted reliever with a bit of a track record and may be Farrell's first logical choice.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Consider

AL-only: Acquire

Juan Nicasio, Colorado Rockies

Nicasio is the first pitcher the Rockies will call upon to fill in for Jorge De La Rosa (torn ulnar collateral ligament). The 24-year-old will make his debut on Saturday, against the St. Louis Cardinals. It's almost definitely a wait-and-see affair. Things working in his favor: impressive minors results and opponent's lack of familiarity. Things that aren't: little experience beyond Class A advanced level and Coors Field disadvantage.

Nicasio has put together immaculate rates of walks per nine as a pro. Last year, in a jump of 65 1/3 frames, the right-hander pitched 177 1/3 innings and posted a 3.91 ERA, a 8.68 K/9 and a 1.57 BB/9 for high Class A Modesto. In 56 2/3 stanzas at Double-A Tulsa this season, he has a 2.22 ERA, a 10.01 K/9 and a 1.59 BB/9. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder has great stuff, per Baseball America, but is around the plate too much, which accounts for hit rates against him.

It's possible that this will turn into a longer trial for Nicasio, and any talented prospect is worth watching. Exercise extreme caution here, though. He's not expected to last beyond the activation of Aaron Cook (shoulder tendonitis, fractured finger), barring another issue for Colorado.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Watch

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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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