Fantasy Baseball: Diamond Market - Rising

by Bryce McRae on July 3, 2008 @ 14:13:41 PDT

 


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

J.R. Towles, Houston Astros

Towles was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock Wednesday, July 2. The call-up was necessary with catcher Humberto Quintero (concussion) landing on the DL. Towles' struggles were well documented early this season, but Towles showed improvement with Round Rock, hitting .279 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in 61 at-bats. Towles is expected to catch four of the five Houston starters - catcher Brad Ausmus should continue to work with starter Roy Oswalt - and should be viewed as a speculative add in NL-only leagues. Place him on your watch list in deeper mixed formats.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks

With catcher Chris Snyder (testicle) on the DL due to one of the most cringe-worthy injuries of the year - fractured left testicle - Montero looks set to step into the starting role behind the plate. In 88 at-bats this year, Montero has put together a .250-0-7 line, which does not lend him to fantasy relevance. At this point, add him in NL-only leagues by virtue of his starting spot. However, keep him on your watch list in deeper mixed formats, especially the two-catcher variety.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Ramon Castro, New York Mets

After a hamstring injury delayed his start to the season until early May, Castro's stronger play - combined with catcher Brian Schneider's struggles - has increased Castro's playing time. He opened July with a three-hit game Tuesday, July 1, raising his average to .271 on the season. He also has two home runs and 11 RBIs, falling just five RBIs shy of matching Schneider's totals in 125 fewer at-bats. It's time to start paying attention to Castro in all NL-only and two-catcher mixed formats.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Watch

First Basemen

Adam LaRoche, Pittsburgh Pirates

LaRoche enters Thursday, July 3, on a five-game hitting streak, recording three straight multi-hit games and raising his average the highest it has been since March 31. He likely did not blow people away with a .253-2-10 line in June; however, LaRoche has been a beast after the All-Star break the past two years. In those two seasons, he has combined to hit .317 with 27 home runs and 85 RBIs in 482 at-bats. Look to grab him in all formats.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Wes Bankston, Oakland Athletics

The A's called up Bankston Wednesday, July 2, to fill third baseman Eric Chavez's (shoulder) spot on the roster. Bankston was hitting .275 with 14 home runs and 51 RBIs in 269 at-bats for Triple-A Sacramento this year, but he was surging with a .378 average, six home runs and 18 RBIs over his last 16 games for Sacramento. He received the start at first base July 2 and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Keep him on your watch list in AL-only formats.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

AL-only: Watch

Second Basemen

None

Third Basemen

Jack Hannahan, Oakland Athletics

Third baseman Eric Chavez's (shoulder) placement on the disabled list has opened up a hole at third base. Hannahan figures to be the likeliest short-term replacement for Chavez at the hot corner, though infielder Donnie Murphy could receive a couple of starts. Hannahan has just a .219 average and three home runs this year, meaning this isn't a situation you want to touch unless you're desperate or he catches fire, and even then he'd be worth adding in AL-only leagues.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

AL-only: Watch

Shortstops

J.J. Hardy, Milwaukee Brewers

The streaky middle infielder is currently riding a 14-game hitting streak. During the streak, he has raised his average from .248 to .273, doubled his home run total from four to eight and driven in 13 runs. For those looking for infield help, grabbing Hardy in all formats makes sense while he's still hot. However, be prepared for him to slow down. He has hit better than .300 in a month just two other times in his career before June.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Nomar Garciaparra, Los Angeles Dodgers

Garciaparra (calf) looks set to come off the DL Friday, June 4, and likely will see some time at shortstop. Injured shortstop Rafael Furcal (back) has decided to undergo surgery on his ailing back, which is expected to knock him out for at least eight weeks. Infielders Luis Maza (.239 average) and Angel Berroa (.183) could also be in the mix, but Garciaparra looks to be the main guy at short. Grab him if he is available in NL-only formats and add him to your watch list in deeper mixed setups.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Outfielders

Austin Kearns, Washington Nationals

Kearns (elbow) has been activated from the DL and is expected to return to the starting lineup Thursday, July 3. The 28-year-old is struggling at the plate this year, hitting just .187 with three homers and 16 RBIs. Kearns should remain in the right field for the time being, but when outfielder Lastings Milledge (groin) returns, the Nationals look to have a decision to make on playing time. Outfielder Elijah Dukes is surging while outfielder Wily Mo Pena has struggled on get going. Grab Kearns in NL-only formats and keep him on your watch list in deeper mixed leagues.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Brett Gardner, New York Yankees

Gardner received the call from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Monday, June 30. He has started three straight games - two in left field, one in center - since being promoted, recording one hit in 10 at-bats. In addition, the speedy outfielder has two stolen bases already after stealing 34 in 80 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barres this year. He is worth adding in AL-only formats if you're looking for a potential boost in stolen bases.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

AL-only: Acquire

Designated Hitters

None

Starting Pitchers

Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox

Buchholz was removed from his Monday, June 30, start with Triple-A Pawtucket after five scoreless innings, which could be a sign the Red Sox are ready to recall their prized pitching prospect. Buchholz has a 4-1 record with a 1.63 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and 38 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings with the PawSox this year. He has an even more impressive 4-0 record with a 0.40 ERA over his last four starts. If the Red Sox do pull the trigger and call him up, feel free to grab Buchholz in deeper mixed leagues as a high-upside pickup. Move him to your watch list in shallow varieties.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Hiroki Kuroda, Los Angeles Dodgers

Kuroda (shoulder) returned from the DL Wednesday, July 2, where he was recovering from a bout of right shoulder tendonitis. The Japanese righty looked strong in giving up just five hits over seven scoreless innings, though he managed only one strikeout. With a 3.73 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP on the season, Kuroda could be a solid pickup in deeper mixed formats for owners looking to boost their ratios.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Relief Pitchers

Dan Wheeler, Tampa Bay Rays

Closer Troy Percival (hamstring) was forced to the DL Tuesday, July 1, for the second time this year due to a balky hamstring. With their closer on the shelf, the Rays are expected to shift to a closer-by-committee approach. Wheeler has already been the beneficiary of this approach, picking up a save Wednesday, July 2. Relievers Grant Balfour, Trever Miller and J.P. Howell are also considered options to close; however, Wheeler figures to be one of the better bets. Grab him in all mixed formats if you want to pick up a couple of cheap saves while Percival is out.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Grant Balfour, Tampa Bay Rays

As stated above, the Rays are shifting to a closer-by-committee approach and Balfour could receive a few save opportunities. Balfour, who has a 1.08 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings this year, received a save opportunity Tuesday, July 1, throwing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball. If you're looking to vulture a cheap save or two with Percival out, consider adding Balfour, whose ratios should be helpful all on their own.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Acquire

AL-only: Acquire

Damaso Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates

Closer Matt Capps (shoulder) is expected to be out until early September with bursitis and internal rotation deficit in his right shoulder. The injury means the Pirates are expected to take the closer-by-committee approach with five possible candidates - Marte and relievers Tyler Yates, Romulo Sanchez, John Grabow and Denny Bautista. Marte, with 32 career saves, has been an eighth-inning setup man this year and is a serious candidate to close, despite two blown saves in his last three appearances. Look to grab him in all leagues.

Shallow mixed: Acquire

Deep mixed: Acquire

NL-only: Acquire

Tyler Yates, Pittsburgh Pirates

As previously mentioned, the Pirates are without their closer - Matt Capps (shoulder) - until early September and likely will be taking the closer-by-committee approach. Yates is part of five-man crew that could close and offers a decent option with a 3.67 ERA and 26 strikeouts. He has been serving primarily as an eighth-inning setup man. Yates is only a desperation grab in mixed leagues for those in dire need of save potential. He's a worthier addition in NL-only formats.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals

Carpenter (elbow) threw 60 pitches in a bullpen session Wednesday, July 2, and said afterward it was the best he has felt since undergoing surgery on his elbow last year. If Carpenter does return this year, he could come back as part of the bullpen. During the 2000 season, the Cardinals brought back former starter Matt Morris in relief after he underwent a similar procedure. Morris threw 53 innings that year and garnered four saves. There is still no timetable for Carpenter's return, but he should be registering on your watch list in NL-only and deeper mixed formats.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Watch

Brad Ziegler, Oakland Athletics

Ziegler ran his scoreless streak to 15 innings this year with a two-inning, three-strikeout performance Tuesday, July 1. He has given up just nine hits on the year and none in his last four appearances. If you are looking to rack up some quality innings in AL-only formats, Ziegler would be a solid pickup.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

AL-only: Acquire

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About Bryce McRae

Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.


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