Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Rising

by Nicholas Minnix on June 26, 2009 @ 13:00:00 PDT

 


Also see: Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Falling

Fantasy baseball waivers and the acquisition of fantasy baseball free agents can make or break a season. You may have adjusted your fantasy baseball cheat sheets over and over during spring training. If your team remains the same after opening day, though, you will probably have trouble competing in your rotisserie baseball league.

Do you need to add players to replace your fantasy baseball busts? Which players can you ignore? KFFL.com's Diamond Market series gives you the fantasy baseball tips and advice you need to sort through the masses quickly.

Key

Acquire - Add player (in most circumstances)

Watch - Track player; consider adding if trend continues

Pass - Do not add player (in most circumstances)

Third basemen

Kevin Kouzmanoff, San Diego Padres

Kouz has somewhat quietly gone 20 for his last 64 (.313), with six homers and 20 RBIs, from June 7 on. He hasn't improved his batting eye during that stretch (0.08 walk-to-strikeout rate), so don't expect him to become a .300 hitter. His aggressive approach can sustain a power surge for weeks or more at a time, though. Consider riding it until it ends - which could be any day.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Jake Fox, Chicago Cubs

Fantasy owners seem to have ignored the urging to pick up Fox's talented bat thanks to manager Lou Piniella's desire to play it anywhere he can, despite Fox's shoddy glove. The Cubbies need power, and Fox provides it (17 homers and 53 RBIs, with a .409 average, for Triple-A Iowa). He belted his first in the bigs yesterday and has 12 hits in 34 at-bats with Chicago. This is at least temporary salvation at a corner or (in some leagues) outfield spot.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Shortstops

Ronny Cedeno, Seattle Mariners

The M's lost Yuniesky Betancourt (hamstring) for at least a couple of weeks; Cedeno is expected to fill in most of the time during Betancourt's absence. He displayed double-digit steals potential in the minors, but he hasn't run much in the bigs. He's not known for his stick, either; he's 11-for-88 (.125) this season. Playing time will likely be his biggest contribution.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

AL-only: Watch

Outfielders

Nick Evans, New York Mets

The Mets called up the right-handed Evans a week ago, and he has received two straight starts at first base, going 3-for-6 with a homer and four RBIs in those contests. In the Big Apple, it has prematurely sparked hope for this offense. Evans was hitting .200 with six homers and 16 RBIs between two minor league stops before his callup.

Daniel Murphy, a left-handed hitter, was hitting well (10 for his last 30, one homer) before Evans received back-to-back nods. If anything, the situation may devolve into a platoon, which would give Murphy more long-term value than Evans while Carlos Delgado (hip) is out.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

NL-only: Acquire

Starting pitchers

Fernando Nieve, New York Mets

This right-hander flamed out as a prospect for the Houston Astros, but is he finding new life with the Metropolitans? He has won all three of his starts for New York, giving up 10 hits, nine walks and three earned runs in 18 2/3 innings in those outings.

Nieve, 26, has fanned 11 in those innings, although he's capable of notching more K's; plus, the flyball pitcher is theoretically aided by spacious Citi Field. He has a lively fastball, but he hadn't yet experienced sustained success because of his problems with control. With 4.34 walks per nine innings in his three starts, it doesn't look like he has solved them. Nieve has confidence in his arsenal, but without fewer walks, it won't matter.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds

Bailey is receiving another shot Saturday because of Matt Maloney's poor showings in place of Edinson Volquez (elbow). We should be tired of hearing about Bailey's potential - OK, we are - but it's worth noting his recent run at Triple-A Louisville.

In his last five starts (38 1/3 innings), he has allowed two earned runs and seven walks while fanning 38. Reportedly, Bailey has recently incorporated the use of a splitter. The newly learned pitch could provide a different look from his ballyhooed standard-issue heater, which has made him appear decidedly overrated as a major leaguer. Pay attention, at least.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Virgil Vasquez, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Bucs optioned Ian Snell to the minors; Vasquez, 27, will replace him. The latter right-hander vied for the final rotation spot in Spring Training but lost out to Jeff Karstens. He's 5-2 with a 4.18 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 14 starts (79 2/3 innings) for Triple-A Indianapolis. He was shelled (seven homers in 16 2/3 innings) in his only previous major league stint, with the Detroit Tigers in 2007.

He's a control artist, though. He could be worth an occasional spot start, if your fantasy league is deep enough, at least at arm-friendly PNC Park. Perhaps. Maybe. Possibly.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

NL-only: Watch

Relief pitchers

Leo Nunez, Dan Meyer and Kiko Calero, Florida Marlins

The Fish have sent Matt Lindstrom (elbow) to the disabled list. The righty says his arm hasn't felt right for about three weeks, and he will miss at least a month and a half.

Who will close in Florida? Manager Fredi Gonzalez has appointed Nunez (ankle), but the right-hander is day-to-day because of a mildly sprained right ankle. He has recorded two saves this year in relief of an ineffective Lindstrom, which reflects Gonzalez's faith. He's the logical pickup for saves chasers. Speculators shouldn't rest on such laurels, though. Nunez has a 4.18 ERA and is nothing special.

Meyer, a lefty, is actually healthy, and he has been extremely effective (2.03 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 30 K's in 31 innings). At the least, he could serve as the southpaw answer in the ninth should Gonzalez play matchups. He could be more: He has proven effective against hitters from both sides of the dish this year. Wednesday Meyer recorded Florida's first save post-Lindstrom. He faced a righty, a lefty and then a switch-hitter.

Calero (shoulder), a right-hander, has also been efficient (2.01 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in 31 1/3 frames). He's also on the disabled list but should enter the mix for save opps when he returns, likely in early July.

Nunez makes sense as the immediate addition, but Meyer and Calero are much likelier to help you in other categories even if they aren't saving games. If Nunez falters, Gonzalez also has two viable subs. Meyer and Calero are much more appealing because, long term, they provide more upside as closers.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Also see: Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Falling

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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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