Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Rising

by Tim Heaney on June 22, 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)

Catchers

Kenji Johjima, Seattle Mariners

Johjima (toe) caught four innings of rehab work Saturday for Class AAA Tacoma and served as a DH yesterday at the same stop. Out since May 25, the vet could be activated from the DL later this week. A pair of DL stints has stunted Ji-Jo's performance this season, and playing time remains his biggest draw once he returns. No rush outside of two-catcher setups, but don't lose track of him. He must prove his ample contact (90.7 percent this year) can also be productive.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Second basemen

Casey McGehee, Milwaukee Brewers

His ridiculous June (.438-2-9 in 48 June at-bats) and 20-for-57 (.351) performance against righty pitchers has made him more than a platoon player. Those worried about a rough first big league season should be comforted by McGehee's 11.3 walk percentage but hesitant due to his .412 BABIP. His 25.0 percent line-drive pace also works well for a top-of-the-order hitter who sees nearly 65 percent fastballs.

How long will that heater pace last? Pitchers may continue attacking him before facing the Brewers' middle-order options. It's wise to expect the 26-year-old to fall off, too, but that doesn't mean you should avoid him, especially since he's also eligible at third base in most leagues.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Third basemen

Edwin Encarnacion, Cincinnati Reds

Remember him? Encarnacion (wrist) kicked off a rehab assignment yesterday at Triple-A Louisville after being transferred to the 60-day DL; it sounds worse than it is since Double E has already been out nearly 60 days. The third sacker says he could be back up to speed in "three or four games," but he'll probably need more time than that, though.

The damaged wrist was presumably a big reason Encarnacion was hitting .127-1-6 in 63 at-bats before his DL placement. His walk rate of 17.1 percent meant that his improving eye was still there. If he has regained strength in his wrist, the streaky bat could wind up being a heartwarming waiver wire gift.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Shortstops

Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres

Cabrera (wrist) should inherit starting duties for the Padres after his return from the DL. His first weekend of work produced a 5-for-14 line with an RBI. With a blank thievery column this year, Cabrera has made us wait for his elite speed (73 steals for Single-A Asheville last year).

The Pads have reworked their lineup to incorporate more speed, and Cabrera's manipulation of batted groundballs and above-average defense should also keep him parked on the lineup card. You won't find power here, but there's enough steals potential here to help with a middle infield spot.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Outfielders

Denard Span, Minnesota Twins

A successful two-day soiree with Triple-A Rochester would allow Span (ear) to rejoin the big-league squad in time for Thursday's action. Span has been given medication and required exercises to counteract vestibular neuritis, which has given him spells of dizziness and faulty equilibrium. Wait it out, and reinsert his speed upon his return.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Wladimir Balentien, Seattle Mariners

With Endy Chavez (knee) done for the year, Balentien receives another chance to stake his claim in left field and show he has more potential than his .174 June average. The 24-year-old started the year off well (.310 in 20 April at-bats) but fell back to earth when the strikeout bug bit him again.

This is far from a secure run for the second-year former prospect. He will need to overcome his free-swinging ways to make an impact - and yes, that's prospect Michael Saunders lurking over his shoulder at Triple-A Tacoma.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Starting pitchers

Kevin Correia, San Diego Padres

Do the Pads have a new ace? The former Giants prospect has posted a 2.90 June ERA in 31 innings - the 25-to-5 K/BB is more eye-popping - on the strength of a, well, weak schedule other than his start against the Philadelphia Phillies June 1. Home starts against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics probably didn't hurt much.

It's hard to call his sparkling control park-induced, though, and his peripherals (.282 BABIP, 71.9 percent strand rate) aren't "aha!" outliers. He has learned to conserve energy when throwing his fastball while also using his full pitch arsenal. A stable roster spot and role within the staff is probably keeping the 28-year-old focused, too. He's at least a slightly reliable matchup play, but he could become something more stable.

If you're feeling brave, his next start comes on the road ... against the Texas Rangers.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Relief pitchers

Chris Ray, Baltimore Orioles

Today the O's plan to recall their former closer from Triple-A Norfolk, where he posted a 2.25 ERA, 13 K's and just four walks in 12 frames during his demotion. By slowing down his delivery, Ray has rediscovered a portion of the power pitching that made him dominant in his first two MLB campaigns.

Trade rumors involving closer George Sherrill mean the O's could turn to another reliever - perhaps Ray or righty Jim Johnson - down the road this year. If he shows flashes of his old self, feel free to bring him aboard for speculation.

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 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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