StrategyJune 1, 2011


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Wide World of Waivers: National Power, Part II

By R.J. White

We featured Mike Morse after his Tuesday grand slam last week gave him homers in back-to-back games. The surging slugger went on to crank homers in two more games after his Wide World mention and one more on Monday. Coupled with a 3-for-5 performance last night, the power streak gives Morse a .301 average and seven HRs in 128 at-bats. Now up to 35 percent owned after sitting with five percent ownership last week, Morse’s stock should continue to rise. Assume that he’s your No. 1 waiver wire target again, and let’s move on to some new names.

The first waiver wire pickup that deserves mention after Morse is his teammate, second baseman Danny Espinosa. We also featured him in last week’s column, but a recent power surge necessitates another look. After our recommendation, the surprisingly adept slugger hit four homers over the past week, including two in last night’s game. That means he now has 10 HRs and four SBs this season, as well as 31 runs and 29 RBIs. Considering we’re about a third of the way through the season, that’s a pretty nice stat line once you get over his ugly — or should I say Uggla — .217 average. Espinosa has now played in 82 games over the past two seasons, collecting 283 at-bats. Double his 16 career HRs and you’re looking at a guy capable of making a run at a 30-HR season. Throw in roughly 10 SBs, and even with the average that’s a pretty sweet fantasy 2B. Available in four out of five fantasy leagues on Yahoo, Espinosa is yet another young Washington slugger that could make his team — and yours — dangerous in a hurry.

Also at 2B: Justin Turner (23%), Ty Wigginton (12%), Allan Craig (9%), Eric Young (6%), Brett Lawrie (8%).

Catcher

Chris Snyder, PIT (2%). An ankle injury has knocked Ryan Doumit out of the picture, clearing the way for Snyder to get extended playing time. He’s managed to collect hits in five straight starts, and homers in two of his last three games. That gives him a .289/.381/.434 slash line through 83 at-bats this season. Long a liability against right-handed pitching, Snyder has been holding his own. That, and the increase in playing time, means he’s a must-own in two-catcher leagues. He was only available in one such league in which I compete, and I remedied that situation quickly.

Also: Chris Iannetta (27%), John Jaso (11%), Miguel Olivo (11%).

First Base

Mark Trumbo, LAA (26%). First and foremost, all owners needing a first baseman should check to make sure Morse has been rostered in their leagues. Failing a Morse pickup, we’ll bring up another guy we’ve featured in the past. Trumbo has managed multiple hits in his last three games and three homers over the past week. Now hitting .256 with 10 HRs to his credit, Trumbo also has a surprising amount of speed, notching his fifth steal on Tuesday. While he’s a poor bet to post a 30/15 line, something along the lines of 25/10 looks entirely manageable right now, especially if he can stay in the lineup now that Russell Branyan is in the fold. I chose to keep Brett Wallace over Trumbo in one league week mainly because of Branyan’s presence, but now I’m not so sure that was the right move.

Also: Mike Morse (duh), Mitchell Moreland (35%), Juan Miranda (7%), Brandon Belt (7%).

Third Base

Wilson Betemit, KC (23%). Temperatures have cooled on Betemit in the rotosphere, but I will point out that he plays every day and that he’s now hitting .306 through two whole months of 2011. Unfortunately, he doesn’t help much in any other category, but with the third base position so marred by injury this year, having someone that does something well at the position goes a long way. He’ll have to continue to look over his shoulder for the impending callup of Mike Moustakas, but the Future Rookie isn’t exactly setting the PCL on fire right now. Take advantage of Betemit’s playing time and high average while you can.

Also: Justin Turner (24%), Ty Wigginton (12%), Mike Moustakas (5%, just in case).

Shortstop

Alexi Casilla, MIN (2%). We featured another Twin in this section last week, but Trevor Plouffe hasn’t looked too good at the plate. Casilla knows all about that, and while he’s always had an intriguing amount of speed on the basepaths, you can’t steal first, as the saying goes. Luckily he hasn’t had to try and steal first lately, collecting ten hits and four walks in his last 25 at-bats. As a result he’s grabbed a couple SBs over the last week, and he could be in line for a few more while his hot streak continues. He’s hitting second now after spending most of the season in the nine-hole, and on most teams this would result in more scoring opportunities. On the Twins it just gives him a seat 90 feet away from the Justin Morneau train wreck (.184/.226/.253 with runners on coming into Tuesday).

Also: Rafael Furcal (46%), J.J. Hardy (11%), Jeff Keppinger (2%).

Outfield

Jon Jay, STL (10%). We pegged Raul Ibanez in this space last week, and he’s responded with three HRs over the past seven days. While he’s still a great option, as is Morse, let’s turn our attention elsewhere. Jay managed to hit .300 last year in his rookie season, and he’s cranked it up a few notches this season. Mostly used as a defensive replacement early in May, Jay has become a regular in the starting lineup, thanks to his smoking bat. He’s recorded hits in each of his last 10 starts (though an 0-for-1 performance on Tuesday broke up his official hitting streak), and the offense explosion has brought his average up to .349. He’s been hitting at the top of the order (mainly second) through his hot streak, in front of hitters like Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman. Even the guys behind them are hitting well, so Jay stands to see a lot of hittable pitches and score plenty of runs when he gets on base. Ride the wave.

Also: Morse (still), Raul Ibanez Ibanez (48%), Mitch Moreland (35%), Josh Willingham (22%), Desmond Jennings (10%), Allan Craig (9%), Jerry Sands (3%).

Starting Pitcher

Bartolo Colon, NYY (39%). Can I explain how a seemingly washed up Colon has re-emerged as a fantasy ace? No, not really. But I do know that any starting pitcher with a K:BB over 4.0, an ERA of 3.26, a WHIP of 1.10 and an offense capable of providing plenty of run support should be owned in more than 39 percent of Yahoo leagues. He sandwiched one stinker in between two brilliant shutout performances, the most recent of which featured just four hits and no walks in nine innings. Don’t assume that Colon is just getting lucky — he has 62 Ks in 66.1 innings and his BABIP isn’t ridiculously low. He’s just 3-3 in eight starts and three relief appearances, but he clearly deserves better. Considering A.J. Burnett somehow won 23 games over the past two seasons, I’d say more wins should be in Colon’s near future.

Also: Scott Baker (33%), Randy Wolf (24%), Jonathon Niese (11%), James McDonald (9%), Dillon Gee (9%), Jake Westbrook (7%).

Relief Pitcher

Aaron Crow, KC (41%). Something is clearly wrong with Joakim Soria, who blew three saves last week to get himself temporarily removed from the closer role. With Soria being stretched out to have more of a chance to work on his pitches in each start, the burden of closing falls to rookie Aaron Crow. The 2009 first-rounder has posted scoreless outings in 20 of his 22 appearances this season, though he contributed two earned runs in his last game as part of one of Soria’s meltdowns. That game aside, Crow has been excellent, notching 26 strikeouts against just nine walks over 27 innings. He should remain the closer for the majority of June, making him a worthy pickup in all leagues. I managed to nab him in a couple leagues before news of the switch broke on Monday, but hesitated in a few others and lost out. If he’s still available in your league, jump on him quickly.

Also: Mark Melancon (42%), Jon Rauch (35%), Koji Uehara (21%), Sergio Romo (13%), Matt Guerrier (11%), Vicente Padilla (8%), Octavio Dotel (3%), Rubby De La Rosa (2%), Javy Guerra (2%).

 
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel 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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