StrategyApril 8, 2009

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Wednesday’s Wide World of Waivers: Week 1

By Chris Routledge

Welcome to Week 1 of Wednesday’s Wide World of Waivers, brought to you by Chris & Tom (aka chris8 & Pogotheostrich). Each Wednesday, one of us will be looking at a few players who are available on the waiver wire in many leagues, yet who, in our opinion, really shouldn’t be. We may disagree in our picks occasionally, so consider us at times to be like the double-headed eagle of Rome & Constantinople and at other times to be like the pushmi-pullyu of Dr. Dolittle. Doubtless Tom will have some choice words to say on my selections for Week 1 when he takes the stand next Wednesday!

Each week, we will bring you two suggestions for pick-ups in “standard” leagues (12-team Yahoo leagues), as well as one deeper suggestion for both NL- and AL-only leagues (which will also serve as suggestions for deeper mixed leagues). Our selection criteria will be players who are owned by 20%-50% of teams in Yahoo for the standard leagues, and players owned by less than 20% of teams for the deeper variety.

Please note: we are using Yahoo as the guideline, since the ESPN standard league includes the drafting of five outfielders, as well as an extra middle infielder and corner outfielder, which makes them significantly deeper than Yahoo, even with the number of teams reduced from 12 to 10. However, for comparison, we will include the percentage owned figure from all three major fantasy providers: Yahoo, ESPN and CBS.

So without further ado, now that drafts are over and the season is underway, let’s look at our choices for Week 1:

Standard Mixed Leagues

Fred Lewis, OF, SF

Owned %301635

Spring Training Stats171242.365.420.608

Fred Lewis is the starting leftfielder for the Giants and put up solid numbers of 81 Runs, 9 HRs and 21 SBs in 468 ABs in 2008. His spring-training performances suggest that this production is very likely to continue — especially encouraging were the seven doubles and four triples he amassed. This guy can run! Leading off for an improved Giants’ lineup means that 100 Runs and 30 SBs are hardly out of the question, and Lewis also has the power to provide double-digit HRs. One word of caution: he did have foot surgery in the offseason; the fact that he stole four bases in six spring-training attempts is encouraging, but it’s still important to keep an eye on any lingering effects of the surgery.

Scot Shields, RP, LAA

Owned %32416

Spring Training Stats7.0745.14

There are still a number of leagues out there which fail to recognize the value that the top middle relievers can provide to a fantasy roster. Whether or not the league counts holds is irrelevant — the top middle relievers will provide solid ratios, at least one strikeout per inning, and the occasional save here or there. Shields has been one such reliever for years now, and there is no reason to think that he won’t continue in 2009. Don’t let the ERA from the tiny spring training sample size worry you — Shields will again be worth owning in standard leagues and may even get more save chances than we expect if Fuentes struggles (bearing in mind the Angels also have Jose Arredondo).

AL-Only Leagues

Jason Kubel, OF/DH, Min

Owned %22545

Spring Training Stats13312.365.953

I’ve taken a little editorial liberty in including Kubel here, as technically, he is slightly over our 20%-owned criterion for inclusion here. Nevertheless, at 22% ownership I am amazed at how widely available Jason Kubel is, outside CBS leagues, where he gets a lot more respect. This is a guy who hit 20 HR and 78 RBI with the Twins last year and is expected to DH most games for them in 2009. The uncertaintly over the OF situation in Minnesota may have contributed to his lack of ownership, but there is talk of him batting third whilst Joe Mauer is out, and a look at those spring training stats suggest that he will not be the odd man out, at least against right-handers. Look to him to be on the bench when the Twins face a southpaw.

NL-Only Leagues

Cody Ross, OF, Fla

Owned %121125

Spring Training Stats41414.3651.015

Ross is another guy who is getting little love in drafts this year, despite the fact that he is pretty much a lock for at least 20 HR (with 25 not out of the question) now that he has the starting LF job for the Marlins. He comes at a cost — the .365 average in spring training is misleading (the 14 strikeouts are not!) — but in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues, a starting OF with this sort of power is going to be more valuable than some players with greater upside but limited playing time.

That concludes the first edition of Wednesday’s Wide World of Waivers. We hope to get some feedback from you guys, so please e-mail and post any comments in the relevant thread (just follow the link below). Tom will be here next week with his first suggestions, so until then, keep watching that waiver wire!

Chris Routledge is one of the British infiltrators of the Cafe, on a mission to see the Cafe develop respect for "proper" football, the correct spelling of words such as "favourite" and the mandatory introduction of tea instead of coffee on one day a week. He holds out little hope of success... Catch up with him in the Cafe under the username chris8.
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