StrategyMay 20, 2009

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Wednesday’s Wide World of Waivers: Tomfoolery

By Chris Routledge

Welcome to the latest edition of Wednesday’s Wide World of Waivers, the column which looks for players who are unaccountably on the waiver wire in far too many leagues. Tom’s picks last week, on the whole, didn’t live up to expectations, with only Todd Helton (1 HR, .375 AVG) proving to be good value based on last week’s performance. LaTroy Hawkins had few opportunities for success (picking up but a solitary save), Chris Coghlan was a miserable 2/17 for the week, and Brad Penny had a couple of so-so outings against the Rays and Angels, although there were some promising signs. If you picked any of them up, I’d certainly hang onto them for another week at least, to see how things progress.

But enough of last week. Before I get to the choices, we received a comment recently that our NL- and AL-only picks were not going deep enough, as the players we suggested were never available in that person’s league. That’s a good point, and of course, there’s no guarantee any of our picks will actually be available in your leagues. I am in a 10-team NL-only league myself, with 23-man rosters – you can imagine how thin the wire is in that league! With that in mind, we won’t be changing our parameters for selection (20-50% Yahoo ownership for standard mixed leagues; under 20% ownership for deeper mixed and single leagues), but I will endeavor to pick players who are under 10% owned for the latter whenever possible. Let’s turn our focus to my choices for the coming week.

Standard Mixed Leagues

Juan Pierre, OF, LAN

Owned %464966

Week 6 Stats754.407

Okay, can anyone tell me how Pierre is still available in over half of Yahoo and ESPN leagues? He is pretty much guaranteed to play every day while Manny is suspended, and a glance at the above stats tells you that he is making the most of the opportunity afforded to him. What will his playing time be like when Manny comes back? At this stage, who cares? He still has over a month before he has to deal with that problem — pick him up now, and, if you like, see what you can get for him in a trade in a couple of weeks time.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Col

Owned %423384

May Stats272-12262.001.04

After a pretty lousy April, Jimenez has had a very nice May, as the stats above tell us (and he would be 3-1 had the bullpen not imploded in his most recent start). The opposition must be taken into account — his four most recent starts have been against the Giants (twice), the Astros, and the Pirates, but half of them have taken place in Coors Field. His K/BB ratio is looking much sweeter than it was a couple of weeks back, and he has only just given up his first home run of the year. The next two scheduled starts are by no means easy (away to the Tigers and at home to the Dodgers), but he is looking good and I will be starting him on the teams where I own him.

NL-Only Leagues

Josh Willingham, OF, Was

Owned %3214

Week 6 Stats21323.238

One of many outfielders battling for a starting position with the Nationals in Spring Training, things look to be swinging Josh Willingham’s way at last. The key thing to note in the fairly unimpressive stat line above is the number of ABs — Willingham has started seven of the last nine games the Nationals have played. Since he’s already pulled ahead of Austin Kearns in the battle for corner outfield playing time, the news that Elijah Dukes left Sunday’s game early with a recurrence of the hamstring problem only increases the likelihood of substantial playing time for Josh. As with any Nationals player, expectations must be tempered, but Willingham will give you decent power (six HRs already this year) with an average around .260 or so (I expect that with regular playing he will improve his current AVG of .208) — definitely worth a pick up in an NL-only league, especially with a weekend series against the Orioles pitching staff to look forward to.

AL-Only Leagues

Ben Zobrist, SS/OF, TB

Owned %15931

Week 6 Stats426.3751.474

He’s owned by more than the 10% I was aiming for, but I simply cannot ignore Zobrist as an option for AL-only and deeper mixed leagues. He is absolutely on fire right now, and with Pat Burrell hitting the DL, his playing time is only going to increase. People are asking where the power is coming from, forgetting that he hit 12 HR in only 62 games last year, so it’s far from being a total surprise. With the added bonus of his dual-eligibility at SS and OF, Zobrist is a must-have in all AL-only leagues now, not to mention deeper mixed leagues.

As always, we appreciate any feedback you want to give us, positive or negative! You can find the ongoing discussion thread right here. Until next time, keep watching those waivers!

Chris Routledge is currently top of the standings in the 5th year of the H2HWS, having won the previous four, although another Cafe regular, The Artful Dodger, is hot on his heels. Next week the two meet in a battle of the titans! Catch up with Chris in the Cafe under the username chris8.
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