StrategyJuly 6, 2011

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Wide World of Waivers: Cafe Buzz

By R.J. White

We’re doing something a little different this time around the Wide World of Waivers. You’ll see hyperlinks for several of the free agents in our list — these will take you to their relevant Cafe threads for discussion. Join in there, or below in the comment section, with your thoughts. We start our column with an injured Pirate outfielder, and you can find his replacement further down in the column. Lastly, we leave you with one of the best power hitters in baseball over interleague play, available in 99% of fantasy leagues (for good reason).

41-50% Owned

1. Jose Tabata, OF, PIT
2. Derek Lowe, SP, ATL
3. Seth Smith, OF, COL
4. John Danks, SP, CWS
5. Mark Melancon, RP, HOU
6. David Freese, 3B, STL
7. Daniel Murphy, IF/OF, NYM
8. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT
9. Zach Britton, SP, BAL
10. Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC

After turning in a fantastic June (.330 with one HR and 16 RBIs), Daniel Murphy has posted solid numbers so far in July. Like Ty Wigginton, he’s eligible at four positions, leaving you to plug him in anywhere but at catcher and shortstop. Fantasy owners will likely be using him at 2B, where he ranks ahead of Kelly Johnson, Ben Zobrist, Neil Walker, Aaron Hill and Dan Uggla over the last month.

Pedro Alvarez was completely awful in fantasy baseball before hitting the DL in mid-May, the owner of a .208 average and two HRs in 125 at-bats. However, I will point out that he’s on track to return just after the All-Star break and that he did hit .270 with 13 HRs in 263 at-bats after last year’s All-Star break, which led to his high draft stock in the first place. Now seems like the perfect time to gamble on him if you’re desperate at the position.

31-40% Owned

1. Mike Adams, RP, SD
2. Joe Nathan, RP, MIN
3. Travis Hafner, UT, CLE

4. Dustin Ackley, 2B/OF, SEA
5. Jeff Karstens, SP, PIT
6. Jonathon Niese, SP, NYM
7. Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL
8. Randy Wolf, SP, MIL
9. Rafael Furcal, SS, LAD
10. Mark Trumbo, 1B, LAA

Matt Capps has been off his game lately, leading one to believe that Joe Nathan, one of the best closers of the 2000s, could be in line to regain his job at any moment. That vaults Nathan up our list, behind another guy that should be closing within the next few weeks (thanks to an expected Heath Bell trade).

Travis Hafner hasn’t been much use in fantasy lately, only earning pinch hitting duties while Cleveland toured NL parks, but with inter-league behind him, he can go back to mashing for the Indians. It’s not often you can find a .341 hitter with power this far down on the available list of players, so be sure to take advantage of it now that he’s back to starting.

21-30% Owned

1. Jason Vargas, SP, SEA
2. Chase Headley, 3B, SD
3. Orlando Cabrera, 2B/SS, CLE
4. Mike Leake, SP, CIN
5. Jemile Weeks, 2B, OAK
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC
7. Alcides Escobar, SS, KC
8. Mark Buehrle, SP, CWS
9. Carl Pavano, SP, MIN
10. Carlos Ruiz, C, PHI

Jason Vargas tops our list with five shutouts in his last 10 games. Unfortunately there’s another side to the story, as Vargas has also been lit up for five runs or more three times during that stretch. His 2.5 K:BB ratio makes it seem the 3.57 ERA and 1.16 WHIP isn’t a complete fluke. Wins are hard to come by pitching for the Mariners (just ask the King), but Vargas is capable of helping in other categories, especially in roto formats.

Rookie Jemile Weeks is still hitting over .300 despite a recent swoon, and he seems entrenched at the top of the A’s lineup, especially after the team dealt Mark Ellis to the Rockies. Weeks unfortunately doesn’t have a steal since June 23, but as long as he can keep getting on base, the SB numbers should come. Another minus: hitting in a poor A’s lineup isn’t going to help his run totals.

11-20% Owned

1. Cory Luebke, SP, SD
2. Nyjer Morgan, OF, MIL
3. Freddy Garcia, SP, NYY
4. Chris Capuano, SP, NYM
5. Jonny Gomes, OF, CIN
6. Doug Fister, SP, SEA
7. Travis Snider, OF, TOR
8. Rich Harden, SP, OAK
9. R.A. Dickey, SP, NYM
10. Danny Valencia, 3B, MIN

I really like Cory Luebke.

Freddy Garcia has went six or more innings in each of his last five starts, allowing three runs or less each time. He hasn’t been helping much in the strikeout department, but he definitely should be owned in more than 20 percent of Yahoo leagues, especially with a better-than-average chance at picking up a win by virtue of the stellar Yankee offense.

Travis Snider is back with the big-league club, and after going 3-for-5 with three doubles in his first game back, he posted an 0-for-4 performance with two strikeouts on Tuesday. Will we see more up-and-down performances from the youngster, or can he piece it all together after posting a .333/.403/.488 line in the minors this season?

6-10% Owned

1. Desmond Jennings, OF, TB
2. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B, CLE
3. Jon Jay, OF, STL
4. Javy Guerra, RP, LAD
5. Garrett Jones, 1B/OF, PIT
6. Emilio Bonifacio, 3B/SS/OF, FLA
7. Paul Maholm, SP, PIT
8. Alex Presley, OF, PIT
9. Eric Thames, OF, TOR
10. Mark Ellis, 2B, COL

Trailing behind in the AL East, the Rays need a shot in the arm offensively. Desmond Jennings is playing some solid baseball right now, with 11 HRs and 16 SBs to go with a .275/.370/.451 line. Hey, if he was playing better than that, he’d likely already be up. With Sam Fuld and Justin Ruggiano not doing much to help, Jennings could find himself with the Rays soon after the All-Star break.

Mark Ellis became expendable after the emergence of Jemile Weeks in Oakland, so the A’s shipped him to the Rockies. Now 14-for-30 with two HRs since moving to Colorado, Ellis is making the Rockies front office look like geniuses. He’s likely done enough to land the starting job for the second half of the season, so deep leaguers should snap him up if they need help at the MI position.

1-5% Owned

1. Brandon McCarthy, SP, OAK
2. Juan Nicasio, SP, COL
3. Tony Gwynn Jr., OF, LAD
4. Chris Getz, 2B, KC
5. Josh Reddick, OF, BOS
6. Kenley Jansen, RP, LAD
7. Wilton Lopez, RP, HOU
8. Scott Sizemore, 2B/3B, OAK
9. Tom Gorzelanny, SP, WAS
10. Wily Mo Pena, UT, ARI

Wily Mo Pena gets a cursory nod from the Wide World after his homer barrage during AL play, but he’ll need a trade to an AL-team needy at DH to have any consistent value. Look for him to come off the bench most days now that interleague is over.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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