Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Rising

by Tim Heaney on August 19, 2009 @ 00:00:00 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

Chris Coste, Houston Astros

With Ivan Rodriguez headed back to the Texas Rangers, Coste will probably split time behind the dish with Humberto Quintero for the balance of the season. The only targets of our message: NL players should be more inclined to grab him before Quintero. Coste at least offers some spurts of offense.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

NL-only: Acquire

First basemen

Michael Aubrey, Baltimore Orioles

The left-handed bat was brought up after the O's traded Aubrey Huff to the Detroit Tigers. Aubrey clubbed eight homers with 52 RBIs in 376 at-bats in combined Triple-A action between Columbus and Norfolk. Working in his favor for the callup: Aubrey has posted a cumulative 23.9 percent line-drive rate in the minors this year.

Trembley says Aubrey should be in the mix at first. Still, his path to playing time has some hurdles, especially since Aubrey isn't too versatile on the diamond. Ty Wigginton can play both corner infield spots and will probably get some time at first against lefties. Luke Scott will also receive a look as the scooper.

The O's are looking for future solutions, so they may go with giving the slightly intriguing 27-year-old more time to prove his major league worth.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Shortstops

Anderson Hernandez, New York Mets

Who would've thought a season-ending injury to Alex Cora (thumbs) would leave a big hole? Hernandez will move to the other middle infield spot to plug a starting gap for the already depleted Mets. Though he may contribute the occasional base thievery, Hernandez (.255-1-26 in 255 at-bats) is most valuable for his playing time.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

NL-only: Acquire

Outfielders

Travis Snider, Toronto Blue Jays

Travis Snider, Toronto Blue Jays
The future in Toronto

We gave you advance warning. We hope you listened. The 21-year-old should play on a regular basis to build on his stellar campaign at Triple-A Las Vegas: .337-14-40 in 175 at-bats. Snider homered in his return to the bigs. Be wary of his plate discipline; if he falls into the same traps he dealt with earlier this year (25 K's in 99 at-bats), you may have to ease up on his frequency in your lineup. 

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Matt LaPorta, Cleveland Indians

LaPorta was recalled from Triple-A Columbus, where he was hitting .299-17-60 in 338 at-bats. Given the Tribe's extended look to the future, expect LaPorta to receive regular playing time.

Alarm: plate discipline. In 42 at-bats in his previous 2009 MLB stint, he whiffed 11 times while taking first base freely just four times. This is your main concern, but there's enough power potential here to take a stab at him this late in the year. Just be prepared to take a slight hit in batting average.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Drew Stubbs, Cincinnati Reds

With Willy Taveras (quadriceps) on the DL, Stubbs has a chance to pick up where Taveras' depleting fantasy worth left off. The 24-year-old Stubbs swiped 46 bags in 411 at-bats for Triple-A Louisville this year while also scoring 57 runs and driving in 39.

Though his playing time is still to be determined, Stubbs was in the lineup Wednesday. He profiles as a more well-rounded threat than Taveras, and Stubbs will probably start auditioning for his future. Steal seekers and Taveras owners (clingers?) should be rushing out to grab this youngster, but if you aren't needy for speed, the urgency decreases.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Starting pitchers

John Smoltz, St. Louis Cardinals

Reports say the displaced vet will join the Cards as their No. 5 starter. Despite his ugly showing with the Boston Red Sox, you can be a bit more optimistic with him in St. Louis.

He returns to the NL, he has a favorable home ballpark, and he'll be under the watch of pitching coach Dave Duncan, who has turned around worse pitchers than the vet. Sure, Smoltz's velocity and movement have deteriorated, but this environment should be more favorable. He is expected to start for the Cards Sunday against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park. Though this may not provide an accurate reading if he succeeds, it's a good place to test his endurance for a start.

He's worth a no-strings pickup if you're hurting for back-end rotation help. If he eventually is relegated to bullpen work, he'd only be worth retaining if you're desperate for reliever help in NL leagues.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Relief pitchers

Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs

Marmol usurped Kevin Gregg for closer duties with the Cubbies. Though Gregg was taken out of the yard often, Marmol has allowed 52 free passes in 56 1/3 frames. Signs of a turnaround: His combined ERA since June stands at an appealing 2.70, and his dominance rate of 10.7 still draws awe. However, control can be just as big a problem as homers. Angel Guzman and John Grabow could see save chances later on (Guzman is a speculative target), but Marmol holds the role now. For saves chasers, that's all that matters.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Danys Baez, Baltimore Orioles

Closer Jim Johnson has left the team to be with his wife, who just gave birth to the couple's first child. Baez will fill the closer gap in the meantime. Manager Dave Trembley couldn't pinpoint Johnson's return date.

Baez may be worth a brief rental for saves, but his shelf life is so short that you shouldn't give up anything of value for him.

Shallow mixed: Pass

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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