OpinionMay 22, 2008

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The Watch List #2

By Daniel Wilson

There are players out there that are either playing a long way below their ability/projected numbers, or are pretty good and have not had regular opportunities because of circumstances out of their control. These are the players you should watch and keep up on, because it’s these guys who will provide the meat to your team’s A-Rod/Santana/Holliday skeleton and win you league titles.

Mark Buehrle:

Buehrle’s ERA and WHIP are pretty hideous (5.27 & 1.54) but there are a few things hiding behind that… His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is a horrendous .360. Most pitchers (and Buehrle himself) normally hover around .290 – .300. In 54.2 innings he’s only given up 5 home runs and 15 walks. Those ratios are both quite good. Basically he’s getting unluckily singled to death. He has a reasonable run coming up – CLE, CLE, TB, MIN – so look for his ERA and WHIP to improve immensely. A worthy pick up.

Steve Pearce:

Things we’re pretty certain that are facts…

*Xavier Nady or Jason Bay will get traded in 2008.
*Pearce was moved to an outfield position from first base.
*Pearce was an extra base and slugging percentage madman last year in the minors.

A .238 average in April has hopefully put your league mates off, but stay the course. This is a guy who could carry your team in the last months of the season.

Clay Buchholz:

Here’s an opportunity to buy low on a 9+ K/9 ace. Buchholz is on the DL with a broken fingernail, and is sporting a 5.53 ERA and 1.63 WHIP. He has an even uglier BABIP then Buehrle – .365. That will definitely improve and go down to a normal level. In 42.1 innings he has given up 3 home runs and struck out 43, which is not too shabby. 20 walks are a few too many, but like his BABIP, that should fix itself with more innings pitched. Yes, he is going to spend some time in the minors. But there are 100-ish innings to be had here from a quality young starter.

Heath Bell:

Everybody is touting Bell at the moment, and rightfully so. Trevor Hoffman has mounted the slide to the glue factory and is halfway down it. The only things keeping Hoffman in the closer seat are Petco Park and luck. In 2007 Trevor Time had an xERA of 4.44. If he’s not taken already, snap up Bell for the sweet, sweet ratios and expect him to contribute saves at some stage.

Joaquin Benoit:

The Texas closer situation. A divisive subject in the Cafe forums. This is The Watch List’s pick for “Most Texas Ranger Saves 2008″. Of the three candidates (Benoit, C. J. Wilson, and Eddie Guardado), Benoit is simply the best real life option. Wilson is not good enough and Guardado can’t stay fit. Common sense says that relief pitchers take the longest to get rolling in a season, and after a disappointing April, Benoit is on his game.

April: 7.84 ERA, 2.13 WHIP
May: 1.74 ERA, 0.97 WHIP

I’m not saying to go get Benoit now-now, (because Ron Washington has stated the pecking order is Wilson/Guardado/Benoit), but he should be in a prominent spot on your watch list.

Daniel Wilson is a rare thing. A New Zealand born man living in Australia who supports the Oakland A's. You can catch up with Daniel in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of AussieDodger.
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