Waiver Wire: Buck-ing the trends

Senior Fantasy Writer

A little deeper on the list of the Most Added players sits an interesting player on an interesting team with an interesting background.

Chris Parmelee, outfielder for the Twins, is owned in 28 percent of leagues, a number that has jumped up 12 percent since last week.

Why the leap? Parmelee, 25, is hitting .261, with one home run, a steal, and five RBI in eight games this season. But he's been hot in his last four games, with a .444 average and 1.316 OPS in that span.

The last time we saw Parmelee in the majors, closing out a lost 2012, he was failing to capitalize on his minor league promise, hitting .229 with five home runs and 10 doubles in 192 at bats. He had a bit of a run late in the season with three September home runs and a .253 average, but it was nowhere near the numbers the 2006 first-round pick produced in the minors where, in 2,520 at-bats over seven seasons, Parmelee hit .273, with 91 home runs and an OPS of .820.

Parmelee's average rose as he climbed his way up the minor league levels, and he hit 13 or more home runs in three of the last four seasons, including 17 last year in just 228 at-bats in Triple-A. He has a big bat and is in a lineup with underrated power hitters, including Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, and Trevor Plouffe. The big issue here is that first base is too deep for Parmelee to make an impact in most Points/Head-to-Head leagues, because of the smaller roster sizes. He can be a solid corner infielder in Roto formats and is a must-own in AL-only leagues, but those playing in smaller leagues should simply keep an eye on him for future adding.

On to the rest of the wire!

The Big Leaps

John Buck, C, Mets (53 percent ownership, up 8 percent)

Apparently, somebody got very motivated with all the talk of when Travis d'Arnaud would be called up to the majors, totally dismissing the incumbent catcher (Buck) in the process. With prospect-philes drooling over d'Arnaud, Buck quietly went out and hit .342 with two home runs and three doubles in 17 spring training games. When nobody noticed that, he stepped up in the first eight games of the season and hit .393 with four home runs and 14 RBI. By the season's eighth game, Buck was batting cleanup. In celebration, he homered for his second straight game.

Most Added Players (as of 4/10)
Player Name % change
1. John Buck, C, Mets 46
2. Jim Henderson, RP, Brewers 44
3. Jed Lowrie, SS, Athletics 40
4. Gerardo Parra, OF, D-Backs 38
5. Barry Zito, SP, Giants 33
6. Travis Wood, SP, Cubs 31
7. Jeremy Guthrie, SP, Royals 29
8. Kelvin Herrera, RP, Royals 27
9. Jose Fernandez, SP, Marlins 25
10. Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Mariners 24

Buck studies opposing hitters and shares intel with his pitchers to improve their game plan. He also had probably the best scene in the 2012 series The Franchise, introducing a taxi driver to the game of baseball. More importantly to Fantasy, Buck may not be a fluke. Yes, there is a lot of concern about his role when d'Arnaud (hitting .267 with seven walks in five games for New York's PCL club in Vegas) is called up, but Buck has a 20-homer season under his belt, two more with 16-plus homers, and has hit double-digit homers in seven of his nine seasons. His average will be low, but as long as he has regular at-bats, he's a good bet for some power.

Buck is the perfect second catcher for a team with d'Arnaud or even the suspended Yasmani Grandal on the bench. He has an expiration date but should be a nice power option in the meantime.

Chances he has impact beyond June: 40 percent
Chances that impact is for the Mets: 40 percent
Over/under on home runs (season): 13
Over/under on average (season): .240

Jim Henderson, RP, Brewers (47 percent, up 3 percent)

John Axford has been beyond bad. Choose a word from the thesaurus -- deplorable, calamitous, miserable, rotten, sickening -- and you won't be accused of hyperbole. But it doesn't mean he's beyond repair. Axford has a 24.30 ERA and 3.30 WHIP through four games. He has given up four home runs, nine hits and two walks. The silver lining? For players in 1x1 leagues, which count only K/9 for pitchers, Axford has managed to strike out over a batter (four) per inning (3 1/3). The plan in Milwaukee is to fix Axford, then put him back in the closer role.

In the meantime, the team plans on turning to fellow Canadian Jim Henderson to handle the closing duties. (Unresearched fun fact: the Brewers are the first team in baseball history to replace their Canadian closer with another Canadian closer in two consecutive seasons). Henderson, 30, has been stellar so far, with four scoreless innings on the season and six strikeouts. However, his minor league track record isn't blow-you-away impressive (granted, there were some serious injuries mixed in there), he gave the closer role back to Axford last year, and he seems to expect Axford to take over again this year.

So where does that leave us? In leagues where saves come at a premium, Henderson should be picked up. It will probably be a good two weeks until Axford is fixed -- assuming he is fixable and not masking an injury -- and Henderson will probably have a long leash in the meantime.

Over/under on saves (season): 11
Chances he is still the closer in August: 18 percent
Heartwarming story about Henderson's struggle to reach the majors: Check.

Jed Lowrie, SS, Athletics (90 percent, up 50 percent)

About two weeks before the season, it was still unclear how the A's were going to shuffle their collection of middle infielders, a group that included Jed Lowrie, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore. Without much fanfare, Lowrie started on opening day. And then the next day ... and the next ... and soon it became clear that Lowrie was the starting shortstop for the A's.

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That was step one in figuring out Lowrie's value. Step two will take place over the next five months, as we wait to see just how many games he can play. Lowrie's career-high is 97, set last year with the Astros, when he also set a career-high in home runs (16) and runs scored (43). The power is another fun facet of his game. We saw it develop a little in the minors, and he's shown flashes of his power in the series of truncated major league stints, but nobody is really sure what to expect from Lowrie, who has three home runs already on the season. If it's anything close to last year, you have a J.J. Hardy clone. If he falters, you may be looking at more of a Stephen Drew.

Over/under on days spent on the DL: 29.5
Chances he hits 25 home runs: 55 percent
Over/under on batting average: .261

The Flavors of Next Week

Matt Adams, 1B, Cardinals (12 percent ownership)

Matt Adams can relate to John Buck. While everyone was raving over Oscar Taveras and how he was going to come up and take over when Carlos Beltran got hurt, Adams hit .288 with three home runs, 17 RBI (!), and five doubles this spring. The slugging first baseman (he hit 22, 32, and 18 home runs in his last three minor league seasons) has now played in four games this season. With Taveras in the minors and Mike Matheny giving Adams more playing time than anyone anticipated -- especially considering his outfield and first base slots were pretty solid without Adams in the mix -- it stands to reason that Adams may have surpassed Taveras (or, perhaps, was never really behind him) in the pecking order for replacing an injured outfielder. Allen Craig, who was benched at Adams' expense on Wednesday, would move to the outfield, with Adams taking over at first.

Of course, we'd need an outfielder to get hurt for this to happen, but with Adams playing his way into more time, he'll probably see some more attention from owners this coming week.

Over/under on at-bats (season): 400
Over/under on home runs (season): 20

Chris Young, OF, Athletics (24 percent ownership)

He probably would have seen a nice leap in ownership even if Josh Reddick was perfectly healthy, but with Chris Young playing every day for the rest of the week, he has a chance to build on his two early home runs and 1.002 OPS.

A lot was made about Young's quad injury last year, which took a good chunk out of his September. But the real season-killer was when he tore a ligament in his shoulder in April when crashing into an outfield wall. Even after resting for about a month, he came back and played through the pain. The result was a drop in power and speed, as Young followed up two straight 20/20 seasons with 14 home runs and eight steals.

Yes, he is now going to call a larger park home. But Young is healthy and the A's have a tendency to run. There isn't much hope here for a batting average jump, but Young could force his way into the lineup with stellar defense and a hot bat and be a 20/20 threat once again.

Over/under on home runs: 22.5
Over/under on steals: 21.5

Evan Gattis, C, Braves (21 percent ownership)

All you need to know about Evan Gattis' awesome backstory was already covered here by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien. As for his actual baseball skill? In the last two minor league seasons, between Class-A and Double-A, Gattis hit 40 home runs in 600 at-bats. He has a career .308 average and .920 OPS. Fredi Gonzalez has already conceded that he needs Gattis' bat in the lineup, and he'll probably play a decent amount more than Gerald Laird. Want another John Buck recall? Just like the Mets catcher, Gattis has found his way into the cleanup spot in the order, appearing there three games in a row.

So what's the catch? When Brian McCann arrives, Gattis is going to be forced into backup duty. While he played outfield in the minors, the Braves famously went out and acquired two Uptons in the offseason to complement Jason Heyward as their outfielders. Gattis played seven games at first base in the minors, but Freddie Freeman will probably be coming off the DL around the same time McCann returns. In short, Gattis isn't just squeezed, he's squeezed by a cast of All-Stars. These things usually have ways of working themselves out, through injury or trade, but exercise caution before adding Gattis at the expense of someone like Jesus Montero.

Over/under on at-bats: 350
Over/under on home runs: 20

American League fun

Erik Bedard, SP, Astros (14 percent ownership)

It's safe to say Erik Bedard had a very weird start to the season, with a 3 1/3 inning save on opening day, followed by a four-inning, no-decision start on Tuesday. In the 7 1/3 total innings, though, Bedard has allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out five batters. It's an encouraging start from a pitcher who had an ugly, injury-spoiled 2012 (the second the back spasms hit, his promising 2012 start was derailed).

Bedard, 34, has a career ERA of 3.83 and a WHIP of 1.33, striking out about a batter per inning. Like Lowrie, his main issue is health -- Bedard has never pitched 200 innings in a season and has only gone over 30 starts once. The Astros seem to recognize this, limiting Bedard to 66 pitches in Tuesday's blowout against the Mariners.

On top of a two-start week coming up, Bedard is also capable of very solid pitching, like his run from 2006 to 2011 (3.44 ERA and 1.24 WHIP). Add it up, and you have a very useful pitcher on a team that understands his relative fragility, who can be very useful when he's right.

Chances he is pitching at the All-Star break: 90 percent
Over/under on innings pitched (season): 145
Pitchers I would release to add him for the upcoming two-start week: Joe Blanton, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bartolo Colon

National League fun

Greg Dobbs, 1B, Marlins (7 percent ownership)

Greg Dobbs is your prototypical pinch-hitter: in a 10-year career, Dobbs has just one season with more than 350 at-bats. But he has a decent .267 average and has seasons of eight, nine, and 10 home runs. This is not to say Dobbs is awesome. But, given regular at-bats, players tend to get into rhythms and zones. Dobbs hasn't had that many chances to play daily, which is why he could turn some heads. The season in which he played the most -- 2011, with the Marlins -- Dobbs hit .275 with eight home runs, 23 doubles, and 49 RBI. These aren't the most impressive numbers, but they do fall right into the "serviceable for Fantasy" category. And I'll be even more specific. I owned Casey Kotchman in an NL- only league. He was my starter at first base. I added Dobbs to help me weather that storm, and I'm in a good place, mentally. Dobbs won't do damage, and he could supply enough in power and average to make you forget all about Kotchman.

Over/under on at-bats: 375
Over/under on home runs: Nine
Chances he is still starting at first base on June 15: 50 percent

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