Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Rising

by Tim Heaney on April 27, 2009 @ 01:00:01 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)

Catchers

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Texas Rangers

Hitting .176 after April 19 action, Salty quickly shot his clip up to .278 with a 9-for-20 stretch since. His power hasn't shown up yet (just two extra-base knocks in that time), but he's abusing the rawhide with a 35.3 line-drive rate - flukish for now, but a great sign. His contact rate (59.6 percent) and batting eye ratio (0.10) show ample room for improvement, and if his recent performance says anything that might arrive soon.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

David Ross, Atlanta Braves

With Brian McCann (eye) on the DL with an infected left eye, Ross earns an instant upgrade as the interim starter. Off to a hot start (.389-2-5 in 18 at-bats), Ross has displayed 20-homer pop in the past but has never been confused with a contact hitter (70 percent career rate). He's similar to recent hot pickup John Buck (Kansas City Royals) but with more PT. There's long-term potential here if McCann's malady persists.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Jose Morales, Minnesota Twins

Jo-Mo has gone 8-for-14 in his last four contests with two ribbies while replacing the hobbled Joe Mauer (back), who's slated to return from the DL Friday, May 1. Minnesota says the All-Star must be able to don the gear for back-to-back days in order to rejoin the big club. He'll still see intermittent off days, though, meaning Morales carries some value in two-catcher formats.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Yorvit Torrealba, Colorado Rockies

Starter Chris Iannetta (.128-2-2 for the season) may be on his last legs as the undisputed No. 1. Manager Clint Hurdle suggested Torrealba may see more time if Iannetta doesn't turn things around. His inclusion is mainly based around the potential for increased work. He has shown spurts in part-time duty in the past, but nothing to run out to the wire for unless you're desperate for a No. 2 backstop.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

First basemen

Russell Branyan, Seattle Mariners

The typically all-or-nothing masher is 5-for-12 since his return to the lineup after enduring lower back discomfort. His performance rides more waves than a Hawaii beach bum, but while he's hot, it wouldn't hurt giving him a try. In many leagues he boasts eligibility at third base, also, making him a potentially useful stash once he goes cold in deep setups.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Second basemen

Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians

If you needed more incentive to pick up this scorcher, A-Cab moved from the nine-hole to the No. 2 spot in the Tribe lineup. He boasts a great batting eye and is attempting more steals. He also qualifies at shortstop in most leagues. What are you waiting for?

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Third basemen

Bill Hall, Milwaukee Brewers

Are we approaching a peak for the erratic batsman? His polar handedness splits continue (.444 versus southpaws and .205 against righties), but Hall has two dingers and five RBIs in his last four outings. If you have roster space to play with and are looking for someone poised to start a streak, you can be proactive here. Don't expect a world-beater immediately, though, and you should only play him against a lefty. 

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Shortstops

Augie Ojeda, Arizona Diamondbacks

A disabled list trip for shorty Stephen Drew (hamstring) opens up time for Ojeda. A capable real-life utility player, the light hitter may offer some temporary value for those looking for a middie, but don't expect much outside of a potentially solid batting average.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Brian Bixler, Pittsburgh Pirates

Jack Wilson (finger) also landed on the DL, making Bixler another beneficiary of injury. The 26-year-old offers a bit more hope than Ojeda considering he stole 51 bases in his last two minor league seasons. If you're looking for power, you won't find it here, but he was hitting .327 at Triple-A Indianapolis before his call-up.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Starting pitchers

Phil Hughes, New York Yankees

Now there's the prospect we wanted to see: 1.86 ERA, 19 K's and three walks in 19 1/3 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre this season. He's the expected starter Tuesday, April 28, while Chien-Ming Wang (hips) works out his "injuries" (read: mechanics). Hughes has potential rotation staying power if Wang's retooling takes awhile. Do all you can to take a shot on the promising 22-year-old.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Relief pitchers

Mark DiFelice, Milwaukee Brewers

Looking for LIMA help? The 32-year-old walked just 1.6 hitters per nine frames in his minor league career and boasts a 4.00 command ratio this year. The Brewers bullpen welcomed back Trevor Hoffman (oblique) from the DL, meaning there may not be any save chances here. Managers in leagues that value setup men should keep him on their radar, but how long can the soft-tossing career minor leaguer keep this up?

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Mark Melancon, New York Yankees

A potential fantasy clone of Joba Chamberlain, v. 2007, Melancon fans ample batters and keeps the ball on the ground - a nifty notion for a pitching staff stuck playing its home games in zero gravity. He threw two scoreless innings in his debut Sunday, April 26, and given the Yanks' tattered 'pen, Melancon has the stuff to become the top setup man to Mariano Rivera, whose role he'll probably assume in the future.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Also see: Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Falling

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


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