Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Rising

by Tim Heaney on May 22, 2009 @ 14:01:05 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)

First basemen

Kevin Millar, Toronto Blue Jays

The demotion of young phenom Travis Snider opens up some more "cowboy up" time for Millar (.293-3-14 in 75 at-bats), who has already been productive in a platoon role at first base and as a DH. Expect Toronto to let Snider work out his hitches while the veteran holds down the fort, meaning although Jose Bautista may factor in as well, Millar has a more secure presence.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Third basemen

Andy LaRoche, Pittsburgh Pirates

We may want to start talking about this formerly hot prospect again. The younger LaRoche has nine RBIs in his last six contests while jacking his average up to .279; it was .245 on May 15. He's attacking the ball (29 percent line-drive rate), and while that and his .330 BABIP won't last, he's making much more contact. Based on his minor league power potential, he has promise to sustain a modicum of this for the whole season; he may finally be getting it.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Outfielders

Randy Winn, San Francisco Giants

For the third straight season, Winn finally came out to play in May. In the last seven days, Winn is 10-for-23 (.435) with three RBIs and a steal. With four multi-hit games in his last six contests, the vet has rebounded from a .221 April showing. More importantly, he's still manipulating the basepaths with four steals this month (seven on the year) - the pedal stomping made him a hot pickup last year, too. This typically unheralded player deserves more attention.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Jonny Gomes, Cincinnati Reds

The all-or-nothing masher has pretty much been the latter since 2007, but he was called up to platoon with Laynce Nix in left field. Gomes was hitting .282 with nine dingers and 27 RBIs in 37 games at Triple-A Louisville. The former 20-home run threat impressed the Reds this spring and was a surprising demotion after camp. Still, Gomes will never be helpful in average, and his work against lefties limits what he can offer, especially since he already has trouble making contact.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

NL-only: Watch

Starting pitchers

David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

Well, the stashing has finally paid off. The phenom is expected to be recalled to start Monday, May 25, to assume the rotation spot of Scott Kazmir (quadriceps), who was placed on the 15-day DL Friday, May 22. Price's performance has been spotty at Triple-A Durham (4.15 May ERA, 18 walks in 34 1/3 frames), but two starts ago he tossed five shutout innings with six K's and one walk. They have been conserving his innings just for this occasion. With Andy Sonnanstine's 2009 struggles, Price may not leave Tampa's rotation.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays

Romero was brought up from Triple-A Las Vegas and will start Tuesday, May 26, at the Baltimore Orioles. Given that he came out of nowhere in 2009, he probably was cut loose when he hit the DL in mixed leagues. He let up just four runs in 21 innings, and although they have one of the top home offenses this year, the O's struggle against lefties. It's worth seeing if he can recapture his earlier spark.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds

A DL stint for Edinson Volquez (back) gives Bailey yet another shot in the bigs. He hasn't exactly capitalized on his previous chances (6.72 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 46 K's and 45 walks in 17 MLB starts), and his line at Triple-A Louisville (3-5, 4.57 ERA, 43 K's, 17 walks in 45 1/3 frames) isn't inspiring outside of the dominance. His upcoming matchups (Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers) aren't favorable, but strong performances may help him earn consideration for a rotation spot, possibly Micah Owings'.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Anthony Swarzak, Minnesota Twins

The Twinkies called for Swarzak Wednesday, May 20. One of the Twins' top arm prospects, the righty once again showed pleasant command (32 K's, 11 walks) at Triple-A Rochester, with a 2.25 ERA in seven starts. He will have the chance to showcase his occasional mid-90s heat and 12-to-6 curveball against the Milwaukee Brewers Saturday, May 23. He'll man the rotation spot vacated by Glen Perkins (elbow) but could stay on with the team as a reliever even when Perkins returns, if he doesn't overtake the soft-throwing lefty.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto brought up Janssen to start against the Atlanta Braves May 23 after the righty missed all of 2008 after undergoing shoulder surgery; a setback in Spring Training delayed his return further as he was battling for a rotation spot. Janssen was stellar as a reliever in 2007, and Toronto has successfully transformed bullpen options into legit starters (Shaun Marcum, for example). Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg has been the King Midas for out-of-nowhere starters this year. Will Janssen be next?

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Craig Stammen, Washington Nationals

Another rookie touch has spiced up the Nats staff. The youngster simply threw strikes, retiring the first 12 batters before falling apart in the seventh and allowing four runs. At Triple-A Syracuse, Stammen had a 1.80 ERA. Caution: Despite dominance rates of 6.71 and 7.42 in the last two years, respectively, he only fanned 14 in 40 frames at Syracuse; his success is tied to groundballs (61.4 percent on the farm this year). With Daniel Cabrera banished to the 'pen, though, there's long-term potential here.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Relief pitchers

Dan Wheeler, Tampa Bay Rays

Closer Troy Percival (shoulder) was another Rays DL casualty. When the vet hit the sidelines last year, a variety of relievers picked up the slack; it's safe to expect Joe Maddon to use this M.O. again. Joe Nelson, J.P. Howell and Grant Balfour have picked up situational saves this year, and Jason Isringhausen's name has been thrown into the mix.

However, Wheeler has the best potential as a long-term replacement. He won't single-handedly save this category for you, but he was second on the team in saves last season with 13; it's reasonable to guess he'd be the first option. He also has been rock steady in May (2.35 ERA, .222 opponents' clip). Be careful of Howell assuming the role, though; the southpaw has been lights-out versus righties. The Rays now have Brian Shouse to face lefties and don't need to keep Howell in a specialist role.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Kyle Farnsworth, Kansas City Royals

Maybe Juan Cruz's non-save blowup Thursday, May 21, will give manager Trey Hillman incentive to try Farnsworth out in closure opportunities. Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn Redux has been impervious to runs since April 19, allowing one walk in that time. He finally knows where home plate is. His triple-digit fastball now has control to back it up? Where do I sign?

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

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 LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


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