Fantasy Baseball: Diamond Market - Falling

by Tim Heaney on May 12, 2008 @ 13:35:35 PDT

 


Fantasy baseball waivers and discarded fantasy baseball players 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. When is it time to give up on your fantasy baseball sleepers? Which players are worth retaining? KFFL.com's Diamond Market series gives you the fantasy baseball tips and advice you need to sort through the masses quickly.

Key

Discard - Drop player (in most circumstances)

Stash - Hold player if roster space is available; consider dropping if trend continues

Hold - Do not drop player (in most circumstances)

Catchers

Kurt Suzuki, Oakland Athletics

Apparently a recent five-game hit streak wasn't enough for owners to hang onto Suzuki, who has four RBIs in his last 10 games. He's hitless in his last 16 at-bats, and his average has dropped 33 points to .255 since the calendar flipped to May. He has hit leadoff for the majority of the season but has recorded a .209 clip in 86 at-bats from that spot. He is not displaying the power he showed with just seven home runs in 213 at-bats last season. Shallow leaguers can forget about waiting for that outburst and cut him for a catcher with more offensive promise.

Shallow mixed: Discard

Deep mixed: Stash

AL-only: Hold

First Basemen

None

Second Basemen

None

Third Basemen

Chone Figgins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The Angels put an end to the waiting and placed Figgins (hamstring) on the disabled list Sunday, May 11, because of his lingering hamstring injury. He had not suited up since leaving the Angels' contest Saturday, May 3, when he aggravated a strain that reportedly had been bothering him since April 11. Even though his leg had been hampering him, Figgins had stolen a base in his four games before hitting the sidelines. He has been dropped in many shallow leagues - an unsound strategy given how much he helps in the stolen base and average categories. He was placed on the DL retroactive to May 4, so depending on how he heals, he could return within the next week. Use a DL spot on the speedy stud.

Shallow mixed: Hold

Deep mixed: Hold

AL-only: Hold

Shortstops

Jed Lowrie, Boston Red Sox

Not even a .310 average and seven RBIs in 42 at-bats could keep Lowrie from being sent back to Triple-A Pawtucket upon the return of infielder Alex Cora from the DL. The unknown health of Julio Lugo (concussion) forced the Sox to hold him on a roster spot, making Lowrie expendable. He was mired in a 0-for-10 stretch before going 3-for-4 with his first career home run May 10. Lowrie had some legitimate value in AL-only leagues as a middle infielder, and he wasn't really on the watch list in any other formats.

Shallow mixed: Discard

Deep mixed: Discard

AL-only: Stash

Outfielders

Vernon Wells, Toronto Blue Jays

Wells (wrist) fractured his left wrist while attempting to make a catch in center field and is expected to miss the next six to eight weeks. He has been one of the few steady parts of the Jays offense; Wells was riding an eight-game hit streak before his injury. Wells has been performing well while trying to rebound from a disappointing 2007 campaign, clubbing five homers with 24 RBIs. This is another case of hanging onto a star, but shallow leaguers are jettisoning him. He has 30-homer potential when healthy, so this trend is a bit rash.

Shallow mixed: Hold

Deep mixed: Hold

AL-only: Hold

Gary Matthews Jr., Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

After starting May with four RBIs in his first three games, Matthews has not plated a run in his last six games and is currently hitting .213. He already has 36 strikeouts, with nine strikeouts already this month. Since holding a .266 average April 24, Matthews has been on a near freefall to his current .213 stat. For his career, Matthews has hit .236 in April and .275 in May, so he could wake up a bit in the coming months. However, until he shows signs of life, he probably doesn't have much place in shallow leagues at this point unless you're extremely thin in the outfield.

Shallow mixed: Stash

Deep mixed: Stash

AL-only: Hold

Eric Hinske, Tampa Bay Rays

The return of designated hitter/outfielder Cliff Floyd from the disabled list prompted Hinske to be cut loose en masse by fantasy owners, but it looks like the Rays will be making an effort to keep Hinske in the lineup. He likely will man right field almost full time now that Floyd is expected to be exclusively used as a designated hitter. A solo home run Tuesday, May 6, has been the only tally Hinske has plated this month; that's not a strong case for owning him, though. However, deep league managers could use someone with outfield and first base eligibility who for the most part has hit in the middle of a maturing lineup. Keep him around if you need his versatility.

Shallow mixed: Discard

Deep mixed: Stash

AL-only: Hold

Designated Hitters

None

Starting Pitchers

Gavin Floyd, Chicago White Sox

Some owners dropped Floyd after his May 11 outing in which he allowed five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings against the offensively challenged Seattle Mariners. True, three of Floyd's last four outings have seen him allow at least three runs (including two five-run disasters), and his ratio of 19 strikeouts to 20 walks for the season doesn't scream dominance. He has walked at least three batters in four of his seven outings on the year. Still, his latest slip-ups have tempered his ERA to a whopping 3.32 and his WHIP to 1.13; he has allowed more than five hits in an outing twice this year. We don't expect him to repeat his pace at the beginning of the season, but it's too soon to completely give up on the former Philadelphia Phillies prospect. He can still round out shallow squads, so don't be too quick to give up on him. 

Shallow mixed: Hold

Deep mixed: Hold

AL-only: Hold

Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds

Formerly a hot pickup early in the season, Cueto has penned another volume for the "What have you done for me lately?" series. After allowing two earned runs or less in three of his first four starts, the 22-year-old has been knocked back to earth by allowing a combined 20 earned runs in his last 19 1/3 innings (four starts), including a six-run fiasco against the New York Mets May 11. He has shown his inexperience by allowing nine home runs in just 45 2/3 innings of work this season. He has a 9.16 ERA away from Great American Ball Park, with his two six-run efforts coming on the road. At this rate, you might want to treat him like the 2007 version of Angels pitcher Ervin Santana; pitch him with more confidence at home and be selective for his road outings. Shallow leaguers could justifiably drop him given his penchant for gopher balls.

Shallow mixed: Stash

Deep mixed: Hold

NL-only: Hold

Jonathan Sanchez, San Francisco Giants

Sanchez has tumbled in three starts since his eight-inning, 10-strikeout performance April 25. Since then, he has pitched just 14 1/3 innings in three starts while combining for 10 strikeouts and a ghastly 13 walks. Fantasy owners shouldn't dismiss the 12 earned runs he has allowed during that time. His poison has mostly come from the free passes as opponents are hitting just .234 against him. He's too erratic at this point to hang onto in shallow formats, but he has flashed signs of brilliance with two double-digit strikeout performances. You might not get him back if you drop him, so proceed wisely.

Shallow mixed: Discard

Deep mixed: Stash

NL-only: Hold

Sidney Ponson, Texas Rangers

Ponson was heavily discarded after his May 11 outing in which he gave up six earned runs and walked five in 5 1/3 innings. This stinker quickly erased memories of his three consecutive outings where he allowed one earned run in each. He did not factor into the decision, but it might be time to jump off his fantasy train before he wrecks your ratios. A career 4.91 ERA doesn't exude much confidence in the right-hander; it's time to find a more reliable option in mixed setups.

Shallow mixed: Discard

Deep mixed: Discard

AL-only: Stash

Relief Pitchers

Eric Gagne, Milwaukee Brewers

The wheels finally came off after a post-game meltdown from Gagne prompted manager Ned Yost to make a change allowing the unstable right-hander a breather. A loss in a non-save situation May 10 was the final straw; even Gagne said he didn't deserve to hold the ninth-inning role. This time, overuse wasn't the problem for him; he has allowed four earned runs in his last two innings of work. A league-high five blown saves took the luster out of his nine conversions. Yost will turn to a closer-by-committee setup that includes relievers Salomon Torres, David Riske and Guillermo Mota. However, dropping Gagne in any league would be risky unless your team is comfortable in saves. The erratic Canadian could return to the role later on in the season, so the best thing to do is tuck him away for the time being until he regains confidence in late-inning work.

Shallow mixed: Hold

Deep mixed: Hold

NL-only: Hold

Jason Isringhausen, St. Louis Cardinals

Before Gagne's much anticipated dismissal, Izzy was given the hook in order to rectify his struggles. He had blown four save attempts in his last seven opportunities while giving up a combined eight earned runs. La Russa said right-hander Ryan Franklin will be the main guy with Russ Springer and Randy Flores mixed in. Like Gagne, Isringhausen should not be discarded because those three have little experience closing. If you have the room, grab Franklin while still hanging onto the displaced Isringhausen in order to handcuff this situation.

Shallow mixed: Hold

Deep mixed: Hold

NL-only: Hold

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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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