StrategyMay 6, 2009

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Wednesday’s Wide World of Waivers: Bourn Free

By Chris Routledge

Welcome to the first Wednesday of the second month of the 2009 baseball season! This column has already suggested eight players we believe to be worthy of ownership in standard Yahoo leagues, and eight more who warrant attention in deeper formats. Last week, Tom’s suggestions included Coco Crisp (a few runs, but not much else in week 4 — and no stolen bases, unfortunately), Yunel Escobar (nothing special), Russell Branyan (two HR with a .346 average — very nice), and Eric Byrnes (not good, although he did pick up a couple of SBs). After some good picks back in Week 2, Tom faded a bit last time out with his choices, so expect him to bounce back strongly next week. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can strike gold this time around.

You should know this by now, but just in case you’re a new reader, here’s our benchmark for picking players: for standard mixed leagues, our criteria is between 20% and 50% ownership in Yahoo, whilst for deeper leagues we’re looking at an ownership rate of 20% and under.

Standard Mixed Leagues

Jose Guillen, OF, KC

Owned %21946

Week 4 Stats4310.357

Fresh off the DL, Guillen looks like he wants to make up for lost time, mashing 3 HRs and 10 RBIs in his first week back. Much as with an earlier pick of mine, JD Drew, Guillen flirts with injury but tends to produce when healthy. With some third outfielders (I’m looking at you, Milton Bradley) stinking the joint up at the moment, Guillen is worth having on your roster while he is putting up these sorts of numbers.

John Baker, C, Fla

Owned %272556

Week 4 Stats811.286

We’re a month into the season, and John Baker is sitting comfortably within the top 10 ranked catchers in Yahoo at fifth. It’s time to take him seriously. He’s hitting .302 for the season, with a decent amount of power and an incredible 19 runs scored to date (hitting second in that lineup has its advantages). Frustratingly, he’s still losing significant playing time to Ronny Paulino (who is hitting for average, but doing little else). If he can see off Paulino’s challenge, Baker could easily be a top 10 catcher the rest of the way; in a standard league where only 12 catchers start, why put up with the struggling Hernandez, Saltalamacchia, or Navarro (all of whom are owned in more Yahoo leagues), when you can enjoy the productive John Baker?

AL-Only Leagues

Kendry Morales, 1B/OF, LAA

Owned %171451

Week 4 Stats426.343

A popular preseason sleeper pick, Morales got off to an ice-cold start. This past week or so he has shown some signs of encouragement, with two HRs and a healthy average thanks to several multi-hit games. Also, keep in mind that these stats do not include his five RBI game against Detroit on April 22. If he’s on the waiver wire in your AL-only league, he really shouldn’t be — I think we can expect this to continue.

NL-Only Leagues

Michael Bourn, OF, Hou

Owned %131029

Week 4 Stats426.343

We all know Bourn can steal bases — in fact, he stole 41 of them last year. But a lousy batting average of .229 scared many owners away from owning him this year. In 2009, he’s running again, but this time the average is up to .301, and his OBP has reached .376. Another good sign is that he has already walked 10 times (he only managed 37 in the entire 2008 season). The bottom line: this guy steals when he gets on base, and he’s getting on at a much better rate than he did last year. In NL-only and deeper mixed leagues, the steals that he can provide you with could prove very valuable.

And so we reach the end of another week of waiver watching. Hopefully, these pick-up choices will prove useful to you in your leagues. As I hand the reins back to Tom once more, I leave you with this reminder: keep watching those waivers!

Chris Routledge is a frustrated British Met fan who saw the bullpen blow yet another lead for Johan last week - we thought that was a thing of the past! He wonder if this year they're trying an alternative strategy of sucking in April, only to storm back in September. Catch up with him in the Cafe under the username chris8.
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