StrategyJune 3, 2009

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Wednesday’s Wide World of Waivers: Go West, Young Man

By Chris Routledge

It’s the middle of another week which can only mean one thing at the Fantasy Baseball Cafe – it’s time for another edition of Wednesday’s Wide World of Waivers!

Tom came up with a cunning plan last week. By choosing four guys on their way back from the DL, he ensured that the sample size would be far too small for me to be able to critique his choices! Smart move! We’ll just have to keep our eyes on the fab four he chose to see if they turn out to be worthwhile picks or not! Now let’s switch our attention to four more likely lads as we look at the waiver wire in this first week of June.

Our criteria, for those who need reminding, is a percent-owned figure of between 20% and 50% for standard Yahoo leagues, and below 20% for deeper mixed and single leagues. Having been made aware that Yahoo Plus leagues often have a vastly differing percent-owned figure from the standard ones, I will also include this figure in my tables from now on.

Standard Mixed Leagues

Luke Scott, OF, Bal

 YahooYahoo PlusESPNCBS
% Owned43763576

Week 8 Stats7614.444

Before you read any further, go and check your league to see if Luke Scott is available (he is in over half Yahoo leagues, and nearly two thirds of ESPN leagues). If he is available, pick him up now! All done? Great, now let’s see why he should be on your roster!

Scott has had an awesome first week back from the DL – one look at the above stat line is all you need to know. He has always had the power – 18 HRs in 369 ABs in 2007, and 23 HRs in 475 ABs last year are testament to that – but now he is showing the average to go with it (he was hitting .300 before going on the DL, so his current .325 isn’t solely due to a hot streak). As the full-time Orioles DH, hitting sixth behind the likes of Roberts, Jones, Markakis, and Huff, there is no reason why he should be available in any standard league. If you haven’t already – go get him!

Adam Kennedy, 2B/OF, Oak

 YahooYahoo PlusESPNCBS
% Owned13371435

Week 8 Stats4244.370

Although he’s owned by under 20% in Yahoo at time of writing (Monday), I expect this number to skyrocket this week after another steller outing on Sunday, when he hit two balls out of the park, including the winning one off the Rangers’ previously perfect closer, Frank Francisco. No one is quite sure where this production has come from – his 4 HR for the year are double what he hit in 2008, and his 5 SBs are only two behind last year’s total – but why worry? The reality is that Kennedy is providing more than solid production at a shallow position, and should be owned in any standard leagues whilst this continues. One final note – this is more than a hot week – he is the seventh-ranked 2B in Yahoo over the last month, ahead of guys like Aaron Hill and Ben Zobrist (two guys with a lot more hype about them) and even Chase Utley and Ian Kinsler!

NL-Only Leagues

Sean West, SP, Fla

 YahooYahoo PlusESPNCBS
% Owned140.35

2009 stats212.00-0752.251.08

I kind of wanted to urge you – again – to pick up Josh Willingham here, who is still owned in only 3% of standard Yahoo leagues despite a 3 HR, .444 AVG week, but I felt it right to have one player who wasn’t an outfielder this week! So instead, I’m recommending a former teammate of his, who has already attracted the attention of a few savvy members of the Cafe.

Sean West is a former top prospect who has suffered some injury problems that have hampered his development, but he now seems to be healthy and firing on all cylinders. Initially promoted from Double-A to fill in for the demoted Ricky Nolasco, he has seized his chance with two good starts (that lead to no-decisions) against the Rays and the Mets. He has struggled with his control at times (Exhibit A: the four walks in five innings against the Rays), but as a short-term spot starter in the NL, there are worse options out there. We don’t know how long he will stay in the rotation, and, as with any rookie pitcher, there will be an element of risk involved so you may just want to play the match-ups. I’m 50-50 about starting him tonight against the Brewers, but I would definitely want to play him next Monday at home to the Giants.

UPDATE: Anibal Sanchez returned to the big club and started last night and it’s reported that Ricky Nolasco could also be back with the Marlins in the next few days. Keep an eye on this situation – if true, it’s unclear as yet who will be sent down, but West could well be the one.

AL-Only Leagues

Ben Francisco, OF, Cle

 YahooYahoo PlusESPNCBS
% Owned515321

Week 8 Stats4162.478

A huge groan could be heard around the fantasy world on Sunday, as many owners lost their first-round pick in the person of Grady Sizemore to the DL (although with the way he was performing, that could yet prove a blessing in the long-term). Underneath that groan, however, were the cheers of the minority who own, as I do in a 15-teamer, Ben Francisco, who has been quietly putting up decent numbers from the seventh or eighth spot in the Indians order. With Sizemore on the DL, Francisco moved up to second in the order for Sunday’s game, going 2/3 with two walks, a run and his ninth stolen base of the year. Whether or not he stays in the second spot over the next two weeks, he can be expected to play every day, contributing speed and some power (15 HR in 2008), which should not be sneezed at in those deeper leagues of ours.

And so we reach the end of the first WWWW for June. Can you believe that we are already a third of the way through the season? If you’re in danger of falling out of contention in your league, and just cannot swing a trade to help you, it’s even more important that you keep watching those waivers!

Chris Routledge is currently enjoying a surprising amount of sunshine for a British summer, which he is making the most of before the inevitable rain arrives during the Wimbledon fortnight. Catch up with him in the Cafe under the username chris8.
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