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Waiver Wire: Time to invest wisely

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Jackie Bradley isn't the most-added player in CBSSports.com leagues -- that honor belongs to Jose Fernandez -- but Bradley may be the most enigmatic. He went hitless on opening day, but drew praise for drawing three walks. He has a .311 batting average with 43 doubles and 24 steals in 499 minor league at-bats, but has played just 61 games above High-A ball. Most importantly, though, he will eventually force the Red Sox to make a tough call when David Ortiz comes back, deciding between a combination of Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, Mike Carp and Bradley to handle the left field duties. Until then, though, nobody really knows how he will perform or if he's up to the task.

Bradley, 22, needs to play every day, lest his development get stunted. He's not going to be thrown in the mix as a platoon when Ortiz returns. His only hope of sticking would be if he is playing well and the Red Sox decide to further marginalize the roles of Gomes and their current bench bats. But Bradley is still young and has very little seasoning. And even mighty Mike Trout bombed in his first go-round in the majors with a .220 average, five home runs, four steals, and six doubles in 123 at-bats in 2011. It's not to say Bradley isn't good, he just may require a little more time in the minors before being ready for a regular role with Boston.

If Bradley is hitting .220 when Ortiz returns and is sent to the minors, it doesn't mean he's not good; it just means he's not ready. And chances are that a player who has spent less than half of a season at Double-A will have some struggles facing R.A. Dickey knuckleballs and Mariano Rivera cutters. Now, in 2014, Bradley could be a Fantasy steal. But the 2013 version is a good candidate to be sent down when Ortiz returns. And plenty of Fantasy players will be left scrambling to grab replacements off the waiver wire.

The Big Leaps

Jose Fernandez, SP, Marlins (55 percent ownership, up 13 percent)

Just to put things in perspective, Fernandez is nine days younger than Selena Gomez. Unlike Bradley, Fernandez hasn't even sniffed Double-A, playing his highest ball at High-A. He's very good, but, like Bradley, may need some more seasoning. However, Fernandez does have a few things going for him:

Most Added Players (as of 4/3)
Player Name Own %
1. Jose Fernandez, SP, Marlins 56
2. Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF, Red Sox 60
3. Brandon Maurer, SP, Mariners 39
4. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Dodgers 83
5. Phil Coke, RP, Tigers 25
6. Mitchell Boggs, RP, Cardinals 54
7. Collin Cowgill, OF, Mets 23
8. Matt Carpenter, 2B, Cardinals 15
9. Lance Berkman, 1B, Rangers 62
10. Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins 55

1. A 20-year-old pitcher with 138 1/3 professional innings under his belt won't have a ton of advance scouting on him, so he can fool some teams early.

2. The Marlins don't exactly have a long line of prospects ready to join the rotation, so they can afford to be patient with Fernandez.

3. For a team struggling to win over a disenfranchised fan base, it's kind of tough not to root for a youngster with an electric arm making a huge leap to the majors.

That all being said, if Fernandez is putting up Phil Hughes/Ian Kennedy (c. 2008) numbers when Henderson Alvarez and Nate Eovaldi return from injury, he could be sent down to the farm.

Chances he has impact beyond June: 30 percent
Chances it's a helpful Fantasy impact: Nine percent
Over/under on wins (season): Four
Over/under on strikeouts (season): 75

Jackie Bradley, Jr., OF, Red Sox (59 percent, up 31 percent)

The case was made against Bradley up above, but here's the devil's advocate: if he's hitting .280 and playing solid defense, Jonny Gomes has been in a reserve role before, the Red Sox don't owe anything to Mike Carp and Daniel Nava is not out of options. The thing here is that Bradley has to hit, which is a tall order for someone with his amount of experience.

Chances he has an impact beyond Ortiz' return: 33 percent
Over/under on steals (season): 15
Over/under on average (season): .235

Brandon Maurer, SP, Mariners (37 percent, up from 10 percent)

A 23rd round pick of the Mariners in 2008, Maurer is the third player in this column to have no Triple A experience. He had very Wade Miley-esque numbers in the minors, with a bit more strikeout potential and slightly better WHIP. He also has 371 minor league innings under his belt, making him the most seasoned of the three hot rookies. Does it mean he has the best chance of success? Probably not. In fact, Maurer is probably the least exciting -- but safest -- of the three players. He had a solid spring, but the Mariners can afford to keep him on a short leash, as they have oodles of young, talented arms (James Paxton, Erasmo Ramirez, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen) ready to bubble up if he flails.

Chances he is in the rotation by June 1: 65 percent
Chances he strikes out a batter per inning this year: 20 percent
Over/under on starts (season): 17
Pitchers I would drop for him: Mark Buehrle, Bruce Rondon, Juan Nicasio

The Flavors of Next Week

Mitchell Boggs, RP, Cardinals (owned in 54 percent of leagues)

Boggs is already in the top five of Most Added, but he is the closer for the Cardinals, with Jason Motte sidelined indefinitely, and is barely owned in half of our leagues. I think his ownership is being pushed down by two factors: the presence of hard-throwing Trevor Rosenthal and the reluctance of owners to believe he is the closer until he gets a save. If Boggs gets two saves this week, his ownership will shoot up into the 80s.

Chances he is the closer on July 4: 70 percent
Over/under on saves (season): 30

Vernon Wells, OF, Yankees (32 percent)

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Yeah, it's fun and easy to call Wells washed up and deem his mega-contract with the Angels a huge bust. And while you do that, the rest of us who look at his numbers will pick him up and start Wells at utility. He still has power (his 162 game average the last three years was 30 home runs), he still has the ability to produce a decent average (.272 career), he has a starting job right now, and he may even throw in three to five steals. With a few hot games this week (he hit a three-run bomb Wednesday night), Fantasy players will take notice of his regular playing time and add him in droves.

Over/under on plate appearances this year: 450
Over/under on home runs: 24.5
Chances he hits .272: 33 percent

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Red Sox (44 percent)

Lost in the OMG-Jackie-Bradley-walked-three-times! reaction to opening day was Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia drawing three walks, while adding a double and scoring two runs. After a 25-homer season in 2012, you'd think Saltalamacchia would be getting a little more love. But he did hit just .222, so people probably wanted to wait and see what he could offer. With a couple more decent games, though, the "should I pick up Saltalamacchia and drop Ryan Doumit?" questions should start coming in, and owners will sort by points or Roto rank and see him sitting atop the waiver wires.

Chances he hits 25 home runs again this year: 40 percent
Over/under on average (season): .240
Catchers I would drop for him: A.J. Ellis, Chris Iannetta, A.J. Pierzynski

American League fun

Stephen Drew, SS, Red Sox (32 percent)

Drew has gotten clearance to begin rehab from his concussion, meaning he could be back in the Boston lineup in about 10 days. Drew's main drawback the last couple years has been his inability to stay healthy, so if this is the only setback for him this year (not likely, but you never know), we could expect some decent power and average from him, especially in the cozy confines of Fenway Park.

Chances he is playing by April 20: 85 percent
Over/under on home runs (season): 18
Middle infielders I would release to activate him off the DL: Yunel Escobar, Jeff Keppinger, Howard Kendrick

John Lackey, SP, Red Sox (18 percent)

Fine, this column has inadvertently become a little Red Sox heavy. I don't care -- it seems to be where the deep value is. Lackey is coming back from a lost season thanks to Tommy John. He slimmed down, got into shape, and looked decent this spring (a 5.40 ERA belied a nice 1.29 WHIP). Lackey is probably never going to reach the heights of his Angels days again, but he can turn in some serviceable starts for an AL-only team, as he's a younger-than-you-think 34 years old and has plenty to prove in 2013.

Over/under on ERA: 4.08
Chances he makes 30 starts: 25 percent
Chances he makes 25 starts: 65 percent

National League fun

Justin Ruggiano, OF, Marlins (23 percent)

This isn't to dump on Chris Coghlan, who makes for a great comeback story, but the Marlins need Ruggiano's bat in the lineup to offer some other power threat besides Giancarlo Stanton. Ruggiano battled back issues this spring and was limited to 35 at-bats, so I think the platoon may be a temporary situation, and Ruggiano ends up getting the lion's share of at-bats. In 288 at-bats last year, many coming with regularity, Ruggiano hit 13 home runs and stole 14 bases, all while hitting .313. Why the Marlins would not want to build on that remains a mystery (which makes the giving-him-time-to-heal-and- catch-up theory sound a little better).

Over/under on at-bats: 475
Over/under on home runs: 17
Chances he steals 20 bases: 45 percent

Mike Leake, SP, Reds (15 percent)

Leake became the unlikely fifth starter for the Reds this season after plans to start Aroldis Chapman were scuttled at the end of spring training for the second year in a row. The fact that the plan was considered and Leake was going to be in the bullpen may have hurt his value and ownership numbers. Leake's 2012 (4.58 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) also didn't help. Still, the eighth overall pick in the 2009 draft is just 24 and was great in 2011. Last year, Leake struggled at home (5.54 ERA at home, 3.65 on the road) and sported a 5.05 ERA from July forward. However, Leake wasn't consistently bad -- he simply got into the habit of getting bombed here and there -- of his final 15 games, he gave up four or more runs six times. In seven of those 15 starts, Leake allowed two or fewer runs. So if he can just corral the success from those good starts and avoid the ugliness from the very bad ones, he could see major improvement from last year.

Over/under on ERA: 3.89
Over/under on WHIP: 1.31
Chances he makes 30 starts: 40 percent

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija willing to listen to long-term deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:32 pm ET) New White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija's agent, Mark Rodgers said Sunday he and his client "owe it to Chicago to consider an offer" on a long-term contract, according to Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio.

However, Rodgers also said they would need to see how things go for at least half of a season before deciding whether to stay with the club.

Samardzija was traded to Chicago in the offseason from Oakland and has one-year remaining on his current contract.

Samardzija finished 2014 with a 7-13 record between the Cubs and Athletics, posting a 2.99 ERA with 202 strikeouts in 219 2/3 innings.


Scott Boras: Andruw Jones hopes to return to majors in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:18 pm ET) Agent Scott Boras said outfielder Andruw Jones wants to return to the majors for another season in 2015 and that at least two teams are interested in signing him as a designated hitter.

Jones has spent the last two seasons playing in Japan. In his major-league career, Jones totaled 434 home runs and 1,289 RBI.


Royals' Luke Hochevar nearing return from Tommy John surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:00 pm ET) Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar has been able to throw off a mound and expects to soon be at the full strength, reports The Kansas City Star.

Hochevar is recovering from Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss the 2014 season and said he expects to be at full strength once spring training is underway.

"I'm conditioning my arm," Hochevar said. "Once spring training comes around they're going to monitor me for a little while, but once they cut me loose I become a regular guy again."

In 2013, Hochevar produced a 1.92 ERA in 58 games. While Hochevar said he's looking forward to returning, he wants to be cautious with his body.

"Hopefully, I'm ready in two weeks," Hochevar said. "But you never know and I'm not going to put a timetable on it. I'm going to listen to my body. I need to look long term, not just career-wise but season-wise. Me on the shelf is no good. If it takes me an extra two weeks, a month, whatever it is, I need to be mindful of that."


Report: Padres 'in touch' with Phillies regarding Cole Hamels
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) The Padres are "in touch" with the Phillies in an attempt to land pitcher Cole Hamels, FOX Sports reports.

The Padres have made plenty of upgrades across the roster since general manager A.J. Heller took over, and it's possible they don't have the ammunition to land the Philadelphia ace in a deal. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that he didn't expect Hamels to be traded before the start of the season. Hamels went 9-9 with a 2.46 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 204 2/3 innings in 2014.


Report: Orioles sign Mark Hendrickson to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) The Orioles have signed Mark Hendrickson to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, CSNBaltimore.com reports.

Hendrickson, who last pitched in the majors in 2011, spent 2014 with York of the independent Atlantic League, posting a 1.54 ERA and 34:11 K:BB ratio in 52 2/3 innings over 55 appearances.


Rangers' Matt Harrison expects to open season on 60-day DL
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Rangers pitcher Matt Harrison said Saturday that he expects to open the season on the 60-day disabled list as he continues to recover from spinal fusion surgery, the Dallas Morning News reports.

"My job is to just get as healthy as I can and get myself right so I don’t have something happen like it did last year when I tried to come back," Harrison said. "I’m just going to focus on that and get ready to contribute whenever it may be."

Harrison is dealing with some stiffness in his right side, which will cause him to throw from a distance of 90 feet for a second consecutive week rather than progress to 105 feet. He hopes that he'll get his hips to rotate more and loosen up with more stretching and more throws from the 90-foot distance.


Report: Rays sign Ronald Belisario to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) The Rays have signed pitcher Ronald Belisario to a minor-league deal with an invitiation to spring training, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Belisaro made 62 appearances with the White Sox in 2014, posting a 4-8 record, 5.56 ERA and 47:18 K:BB ratio in 66 1/3 innings. He'll compete for a bullpen spot during the spring.


Dodgers SP Zack Greinke hasn't decided whether to opt out
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke said Saturday that he's yet to decide whether to opt out of his contract at the end of next season but added, "There's not really better options anywhere besides here," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Greinke is set to make $23 million in 2015, and he's due another $71 million over the following three seasons if he remains under his current contract. The Dodgers said earlier this offseason that they wouldn't discuss a contract extension with the pitcher during the winter.

Greinke went 17-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 207:43 K:BB ratio in 202 1/3 innings in 2014.


Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez hoping to bounce back in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Orioles pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez can't wait to get on the field and get past the 2014 season.

"I can’t wait," Jimenez said at Saturday’s FanFest event. "Whatever happened in 2014 is in the past. There's nothing I can do about it now. I can just look forward and now I’m going to do everything in spring training to get myself ready the best I can for the season and help the team."

Jimenez, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with Baltimore in 2014, went 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 125 1/3 innings pitched. 

"It was pretty hard, coming in with a new team and signing a contract like that and not to do what everyone is expecting you to do, it’s hard," Jimenez said. "It’s hard not to be there for the team, but regardless what happened, I fought a lot. I think I was trying to find a way to survive to be there for the team and do whatever I can do the best. We got really far. I didn’t help a lot, but I tried to do whatever I could with whatever I had."


Royals' Alex Gordon plans to take it slow in recovery
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/31/2015) Royals outfielder Alex Gordon is still recovering from his wrist surgery this offseason and plans to take it slow in his rehab.

"We really don’t have a timetable," Gordon said. "We’re just going to see how it feels. Obviously, it’s spring training. So we don’t want to rush anything. If it feels good, we’ll be aggressive with it. But if it’s not feeling good, we’ll take it slow."

Manager Ned Yost wants to continue to take things slow with Gordon.
"We’ll just take it slow," Yost said. "We’ll see how he feels. We’ll play him one day. Then we’ll give him a day off. Play him another day, five or six innings, then give him a day off. We’ll just see how he’s doing."
Gordon hit .266 in 2014 with 19 home runs and 74 RBI.

 
 
 
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