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With a little more than a month gone in the 2008 season, most leagues and fantasy owners should be at the stage where some semblance of order is starting to appear. The waiver wire is undoubtedly an integral part of the game we play, but in competitive situations we must also look to the trading process as a way of addressing our needs.
The age old question, and one of my biggest pet peeves commences to rear its ugly head again: “Did I win this trade?” Shouldn’t the question be, “Did I successfully fill a statistical void on my fantasy squad that leads to overall improved results moving forward?” Hopefully both teams win the deal, as without a doubt that is the key to successful trading. Winning trades per se should not be the primary focus; identifying needs and filling those needs should be the question we ask and review.
Sometimes what we give up to secure those needs becomes a moot issue. If a trade addresses the statistical deficiencies facing your squad and your trading partner, then it can be considered both a good deal and a winning one. ‘Nuff said.
Moving forward, let’s take a look at some of the waiver wire options heading into Week Six.
Jeff Clement, Seattle, C: There is very little doubt that Clement is ready to display his immense talents at the big league level. The problem in Seattle was finding the opportunity for regular playing time. A .397 batting average with five home runs and 20 RBI certainly qualified the 23-year-old Clement for the promotion. It would appear at this time that a combination of backing up the slumping Kenji Johjima and stealing at bats from DH Jose Vidro should provide more than enough opportunities for Clement to be an asset in 2008 for both the Mariners and your fantasy squad. A must-own in all formats at this time.
Max Scherzer, Arizona, SP: Having the all important first waiver wire priority this weekend means you get the opportunity to click on Scherzer and smile. He made his debut this past week and retired 13 consecutive Astros, seven via the strikeout. The middle-relief role looks to have lasted all of one game with Scherzer being penciled in to start Monday against the Phillies. The current level of hype for this former 2006 first round draft pick seems more than justified when one looks at both his MLB debut, and those 38 strikeouts with only three walks in 23 innings pitched for the Triple-A Sidewinders. For those fortunate enough to own Scherzer, enjoy the ride.
Wladimir Balentien, Seattle, OF: The Brad Wilkerson experiment officially concluded April 30, when he was designated for assignment and Balentien was called up from Triple-A Tacoma. It would appear at this time that the Mariners are committed to Balentien for the long haul as their everyday right fielder. The power potential is definitely there, but I believe his .254 BA for Tacoma is a good indicator that he still needs some polishing as an overall hitter. Balentien is a solid choice in AL-only leagues at this time and worthy of a bench slot in deep keeper formats.
Taylor Buchholz, Colorado, RP: The recent demotion of Manny Corpas not only opened the door for Brian Fuentes to assume the closer role, but for Buchholz to very neatly slide into the set-up position. After watching Corpas give up four runs to get one out this past Friday, it would appear that Buchholz’s role as a set-up guy could be a rather lengthy one. The 1.65 earned run average and 0.92 WHIP qualify this converted starting-pitcher for the job. For those of us looking for holds and the all-important first in line for saves, the mere 5 per cent of all CBS owners who have nabbed Buchholz would seem to be on the right track.
Emil Brown, Oakland, OF: It would appear that the fantasy world is starting to catch up to Brown these days, with his ownership in CBS leagues jumping from seven to 33 per cent over the past couple weeks, as it should. Currently, Brown is on pace for a 100+ RBI season and decent batting average. Looking back several years to those days he toiled in Kansas City, the ability to drive in runs has never been a problem; it’s just been getting the opportunities that’s been a challenge. And it would appear as if this year in Oakland those chances will be there. Brown is currently a must own in AL-only formats and a solid asset as a fifth outfielder in mixed formats.
Jo-Jo Reyes, Atlanta, SP: The Braves’ pitching staff is hurting to say the least and Reyes was the beneficiary of these woes, being called up this past week. With John Smoltz currently on the DL and rumoured to be heading back to the bullpen, and Chuck James sporting the ongoing rotator cuff woes, the opportunity is there for Reyes to stake his claim. In his first start since the promotion, the 23-year-old limited the Reds to four hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings pitched. The key to his potential success, as it is with most young pitchers, is to limit those free passes. With Reyes scheduled to face the Pirates in his second start this coming week, he’s a solid pick up in NL-only formats and somone to watch in deeper mixed formats.
Darrell Rasner, New York Yankees, SP: My NPB bias kicked in again last week when I mentioned that Kei Igawa was possibly looking at a promotion back to the Yankees. It is still a good possibility (especially now that the Yanks demoted Ian Kennedy), but with Phil Hughes going on the DL this past week with a stress fracture in his rib cage that will knock him out until the All-Star break, the Yankees are turning to Rasner for that first opportunity. Rasner posted a 4-0 record with a 0.87 ERA and only six walks for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and is definitely very deserving of the first shot at replacing Hughes. Rasner looks like a decent option in AL-only leagues at this time.
Jon Lieber, Chicago Cubs, SP: Lou Pinella and the Cubs, finally tired of watching his control problems, finally demoted Rich Hill and inserted the veteran presence of Lieber into the rotation. For those in NL-only leagues, this presents an opportunity to look at a pitcher that should, at the very least, make the opposition swing the bat. The Cubbies also promoted Sean Gallagher from Triple-A Iowa and have inserted him into the bullpen in long relief. Should Lieber struggle, keep an eye on Gallagher, as he is currently coming off a Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week award, after striking out 12 in 7 2/3 innings pitched on April 22.
Francisco Cruceta, Detroit, RP: Cruteta’s start to the 2008 season was a much delayed one. Securing the proper paperwork for his visa meant a very late reporting date. But an amazing 15 strikeouts in only seven innings pitched at Triple-A Toledo bodes well with him heading into a bullpen sorely missing both Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney. Currently only Aquilino Lopez stands in his way to becoming the set-up guy in the Tiger pen, making Cruceta a potential asset in deep formats at this time and a relief pitcher that should be at least on the radar.
Jesse Carlson, Toronto, RP: For those looking at adding a quality relief pitcher and solid situational lefty, Carlson could be your man. Since being called up from Triple-A Syracuse, Carlson has posted a very solid 1.29 ERA and 0.71 WHIP with 16 strikeouts in only 14 innings pitched. With B.J. Ryan currently not pitching on back-to-back days, Carlson picked up his first save last Sunday and, as a situational lefty, he has the potential to garner holds and the occasional save going forward.
David DeJesus, Kansas City, OF: DeJesus, suffering through an early season ankle sprain, didn’t make it back into the everyday lineup for the Royals until April 14. Dropped early in most formats, he is currently tearing the cover off the ball to the tune of a .354 batting average, two homers and 12 RBI. If the Kansas City offense starts picking up the pace, he might also start showing some decent run totals. The opportunity to have DeJesus improve our fantasy outfields is definitely there, as he is owned in a scant 26 per cent of all CBS leagues at this time. He’s a definite asset in all formats currently.
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