Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Rising

by Tim Heaney on July 20, 2009 @ 12:00:00 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

Ryan Hanigan, Cincinnati Reds

He started each game behind the dish over the weekend, and Hanigan will see a bunch more time with Ramon Hernandez (knee) slated to miss four to six weeks. Hanigan excelled in the batting average column with steady PT earlier this year when first baseman Joey Votto was on the DL.

Hanigan has kept a similar pace in July (8-for-22) while sustaining his productive batting eye (24 walks, 17 K's), though he hasn't driven in a run or left the yard this month. He's a handy No. 2 catcher because he's a decent bet to give you a good clip.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Second basemen

Augie Ojeda, Arizona Diamondbacks

The D-backs traded infielder Felipe Lopez to the Milwaukee Brewers, meaning Ojeda will split time at the keystone with callup Ryan Roberts. Capable of batting left-handed and brandishing better leather, the 34-year-old Ojeda (.221-1-4 this year) on the surface stands to benefit more in terms of playing time, but neither has wielded a dangerous stick. 

Roberts, 28, offers a small amount of upside, and Arizona probably wants to give Roberts a look for long-term play, especially now that they're moving toward becoming sellers at the trade deadline.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass 

NL-only: Watch

Third basemen

Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox

Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox Lowell will rest more post-break

Lowell came back from the DL Friday, but they didn't waste time resting him for Sunday's contest. That's probably the story from here on out. Manager Terry Francona will probably give Lowell some more time off in the second half, presumably including day games that follow night contests. Lowell's previous workload exacerbated his hip injury.

Lowell's spotty schedule doesn't mean he can't be serviceable. He's a great reserve to have around. He had been slumping before his DL placement, so more regimented PT may improve his performance.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Outfielders

Carlos Gomez, Minnesota Twins

A sluggish start to the season halted the speedster, but "Go-Go" has restarted his engine, hitting 10-for-31 (.323) with six runs scored in July. He's being more selective. Fantasy owners have been waiting for him to develop skills to supplement his base thievery, which ironically has subsided this year (only eight for the entire season).

Manager Ron Gardenhire also feels justified throwing Gomez into the lineup more often; he likes having Gomez, Denard Span and Alexi Casilla on the card at the same time. Gomez will probably continue to bat in the bottom third, but he certainly has a leg up on Delmon Young.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Starting pitchers

Jason Schmidt, Los Angeles Dodgers

Your first smooch, a news program without Michael Jackson coverage ... and a major league start from Jason Schmidt (shoulder). Their rarity makes them memorable.

The righty is slated to work at home today against the Cincinnati Reds; it'll be his first MLB start since June 2007. He posted a combined 3.65 ERA in eight rehab outings (seven starts), including a 4.18 ERA at Triple-A Albuquerque.

He has made five consecutive starts, which speaks positively for his stamina. His velocity, which has been noticeably knocked down during his comeback, will be closely observed - will he reinvent himself, Tom Glavine-style?

Cincy ranks in the bottom five in several offensive categories against righties. These gambles can pay off for fantasy owners; assess your need to take this chance before considering grabbing the three-time All-Star, and keep in mind this is his first MLB game in more than two years. There's probably more upside with Schmidt than most waiver wire options.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Sergio Mitre, New York Yankees

With Chien-Ming Wang (shoulder) toiling on the DL, Mitre comes in as the Yanks' No. 5 starter. He'll toe the rubber for the Bombers' home game Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles.

He of the 5.36 career ERA has performed a 180 in the minors this year, posting a 2.32 combined ERA between two levels. Mitre hasn't pitched in the bigs since late 2007, though, missing 2008 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

While he isn't big on K's (5.45 per nine lifetime in the bigs), the righty, like Wang, obliterates worms: 2.53 career groundball-to-flyball ratio in the bigs and 2.96 groundout-to-air-out ratio on the farm this year. Of course, if he doesn't look ready for the gig, Phil Hughes is lurking - if the Yanks would consider removing him from his superb setup duty.

The O's, who have been hot of late, rank in the bottom 10 in most road offense categories this year but hold the fifth best OPS against righties. Though utilizing a groundball hurler at Yankee Stadium isn't a terrible idea, mixed leaguers might be able to wait through his first start. Your urgency should correspond with your desperation level; there's potential long-term value from the Yanks' No. 5 arm.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

J.D. Martin, Washington Nationals

The soft-throwing 26-year-old will make his MLB debut tonight against the New York Mets, replacing the DL-bound Scott Olsen (back, shoulder). Despite showing just mid-80s heat, Martin has been deceptive for Triple-A Syracuse with a 63-to-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio and more than one earned run allowed in just one of his last nine outings. He has also conserved his pitch counts.

He's 26 and has taken the long road to the pros, spending nine years on the farm. Buying into a Nats pitcher seems risky, but they've produced serviceable fantasy stretches from household names like Craig Stammen. New pitching coach Steve McCatty has worked with most of Washington's young and farmhand arms at Syracuse, so the comfort level is there.

Of course, don't rush to make Martin a long-term member of your team. You should wait to see if his junk can fool big leaguers, too.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

NL-only: Watch

Relief pitchers

Hong-Chih Kuo, Los Angeles Dodgers

Hong-Chih Kuo, Los Angeles Dodgers Kuo's return will help LAD 'pen

It could be Christmas in July for the Dodgers, with their most valuable 2008 setup man (10.80 K/9 last year) possibly returning alongside Schmidt. The Bums may activate Kuo (elbow), who felt no pain after a scoreless outing Saturday for Class A Inland Empire.

The southpaw may still perform another rehab appearance, but a healthy, 2008-level return could make him waiver wire gold. With the way skipper Joe Torre has ridden his 'pen arms, mainly Ramon Troncoso and Ronald Belisario (elbow), Kuo will probably be leaned on upon his return. Kuo may also see a save chance here or there if injuries continue to plague closer Jonathan Broxton (toe).

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-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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