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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
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara not utilizing fastball this season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has been throwing an unusual amount of offspeed pitches to start the season. Uehara has thrown fastballs on just 15 percent of his pitches this season, compared to 50 percent over the last three years, according to the Boston Herald.

Manager John Farrell isn't reading too much into it.

"He's going to go with what he feels," Farrell said. "Every 3 mph is about a foot distance in traveling to home plate. So there's a little bit different reaction time. But regardless of velocity there still needs to be the use of (the fastball) just to create separation between his fastball and his split."

Uehara is 1-1 so far this season with a 4.15 ERA and three saves in 4 1/3 innings.


White Sox send reliever Daniel Webb back to Triple-A
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) White Sox reliever Daniel Webb , who was called up Sunday as the 26th man for the team's doubleheader against the Royals, was sent back down to Triple-A Charlotte after the game. 

Webb pitched in 57 games last season for the White Sox but was one of the team's final cuts in spring training. 


Diamondbacks struggling to fill in void at third base
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale knew his team wasn't going to go the entire season without an injury. But the skipper was hoping to avoid the issue he currently has at third base, according to AZCentral.com.

With Jake Lamb on the disabled list with a foot injury, Aaron Hill and Yasmany Tomas have struggled to put it together, combining for a .559 OPS in the last five games.

"Yeah, that's huge," Hale said. "You're going to have injuries all year. There's going to be a multitude of them for every team. If you can't make the adjustment — if guys can't come in and fill the void — then you're going to be in trouble as a club."

Tomas is hitting .286 in 14 at-bats this season while Hill is scuffling along at .156 in 45 at-bats.


Phillies pitcher Chad Billingsley allows seven runs in rehab start
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Phillies pitcher Chad Billingsley allowed seven runs in five innings of work in his third rehab start in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, according to Philly.com.

Billingsley, who is currently on the 15-day DL with an elbow injury, added three strikeouts and two walks in the appearance. He has yet to appear in a major league game since 2013 while dealing with multiple elbow injuries.


Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez still working out of funk
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has yet to put things together at the plate so far this season. Gonzalez is hitting just .197 with two home runs in 66 at-bats and it's wearing on him a bit, according to the Denver Post.

"I'm not in a good place. I'm still hitting (.197)," he said. "But I'm happy that I'm healthy, and that I'm playing, and that we are winning. I think we are having a good month so far as a team."

Manager Walt Weiss thinks he's really close to seeing Gonzalez get all the pieces together and go on a run.

"I saw real good signs from CarGo, hitting the ball hard the opposite way," Weiss said. "It wasn't just the couple of hits he got. It was the way he got them. Those are things that he had been working on. Then, to get results like that, is always encouraging."

Report: Josh Hamilton trade expected to be completed Monday
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) The trade of outfielder Josh Hamilton from the Angels to the Rangers is expected to be completed Monday, with Hamilton then reporting to Texas' spring training site in Arizona to continue his rehab from offseason surgery, per MLB.com. 

The trade was rumored to have been completed Sunday, but complications arose in finalizing the deal. The Rangers are expected to hold a press conference announcing the trade on Monday. Hamilton is expected to play several games in Triple-A before being called up to the Rangers. 


Dodgers' Jimmy Rollins not concerned with early slump at the plate
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins isn't worrying just yet about his struggles at the plate, according to the Orange County Register.

"Well, some people like to panic. That has never been my MO," he said. "I have, what, 50, 60 at-bats, I'm not sure. So if these are my worst 50 at-bats this year – I'm glad they're happening now. (If they are his worst at-bats) it’s going to be a very good year."

Rollins is hitting just .186 in 70 at-bats so far this season. He believes he's still been taking good swings at the plate, just not finding the gaps in the defense.

"It's hard to compute if you just look at numbers," he said. "I'm getting myself in good counts, just not finishing it off. I know it's coming. I'm hitting some off the end, some are getting in just a little bit. But the swing path is right. It's just a click here, a click there.

"The process is good. You have to continue to trust in the process and believe in the process. You get oriented in just results – especially at times like this – then you're trying to make all these technical changes and that's when you go from one to two to 100. So the process is right. Executing it is about fine-tuning."


Angels OF Matt Joyce hopes hit signals end of slump
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Angels outfielder Matt Joyce saw his eight-game hitless streak come to an end Sunday with an eighth-inning single that ended an 0-for-26 skid. The right fielder, who figures to be a fixture in Los Angeles' lineup with the expected departure of Josh Hamilton, said he hopes the small start will lead to bigger things, according to the Los Angeles Times

"Sometimes it's a tough game," Joyce said. "It seems like you try everything, and you put in so much time and effort and work, it gets to be frustrating. It gets to be hard to swallow and accept it, and hard to keep showing up and grinding it out."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he will continue to stick with Joyce, who is hitting just .140 on the season. 


Mets starter Jonathon Niese struggles vs. Yankees
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Mets starter Jonathon Niese was not sharp Sunday in the finale of the Subway Series against the Yankees, lasting just five innings while allowing six runs and eight hits. Niese was betrayed somewhat by his defense, which committed four errors behind him, leading to two unearned runs. 

Niese was spotted a 2-0 first-inning lead, but he quickly gave it back, allowing a first-inning homer to Alex Rodriguez and then giving up four second-inning runs as the Yankees broke the game open. 

"You can't look into it too deeply," Niese said to MLB.com. "It's a loss. It's a tough loss. Obviously we want to win, but we've just got to get through it, learn from it, move on and play better."

Niese, who threw 86 pitches, saw his ERA rise to 2.74 in absorbing his first loss of the season. 

"I just wish I could have a couple pitches back," Niese said. "But I threw them. The results were what they were. I've just got to move on."

Niese will look to get back on track Saturday against the Nationals.


Nationals considering keeping Yunel Escobar at third base
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Nationals manager Matt Williams will have a decision to make when his regular third baseman Anthony Rendon comes back from injury. With Rendon on the shelf, Yunel Escobar has shifted to third and Williams is considering leaving him there even after Rendon returns, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The team is unsure yet what will happen when Rendon returns, but one theory has Escobar staying at third and Rendon shifting to second base, according to Heyman.

Escobar is hitting .292 with five RBI in 65 at-bats while slotted at third base.


 
 
 
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